Tuner Test: 2006 Vortech Mustang GT
Blown Expectations: Ponycar Fans Get Supercharged
By John Kiewicz
Photography by the author
Carroll Shelby's force-fed 1966 GT 350 was the first Mustang in history to have a supercharger. Shelby claimed the GT would run 0-to-60 mph in five seconds flat, its Paxton centrifugal blower reportedly delivering a 46-percent power increase over Shelby's carbureted HO 289 V-8, raising output from 306 horsepower to about 440. But in our August 1966 issue, the supercharged GT 350 mustered only a 6.0-second 0-to-60-mph sprint.
Hit the fast-forward button to 2005, and ponycar fans are rejoicing over the all-new Mustang GT. Just like the 1966 GT 350, the 2005 Mustang's fastback roof incorporates a pair of rear side windows (the windows were a one-year-only option on the Shelby), but there's no supercharger option under the hood--yet. Well, you don't have to wait for Ford's in-house tuner SVT: Paxton, and it's sister company Vortech Engineering, have complete supercharger kits to make your new Mustang GT remarkably similar in spirit to that of Shelby's GT 350 and promises power increases of up to 50 percent (when intercooled) over the regular 2005 V-8.
The setup tested here incorporates Vortech's V-2 SQ S-trim centrifugal supercharger and is good for 410 horses. The "SQ" blower is a much quieter version of the company's racing version, but looks nearly identical.
With 9psi boost on tap, the Vortech Mustang proves difficult to launch on normal tarmac, as 2600 rpm produces a soft takeoff and 2800 offers a boost-filled gallop that turns the rear tires to molten goo. Regardless, the $3890 Vortech hustles the Mustang to repeatable 13-second-flat quarter-mile runs--better traction would easily run the car at 12.7s--and nails 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. Want more? Soon to be released is an air-to-water intercooler system that Vortech claims will add another 40 horsepower.
A big gain in propulsion is nice; but life is filled with curves, so Vortech's test mule incorporates Eibach 1.3-inch-lower springs ($225) matched with Tokico D-spec adjustable shocks ($700). Ronal LZ Eleganz 18x8.5-/18x9.5-inch wheels ($3250) team with Toyo Proxes RA1 tires ($1200) to keep the Mustang better attached to terra firma. The handling wares combine to improve 600-foot-slalom speed by nearly two mph. However, with big boost on tap, aggressive throttle input yields wild oversteer and a quick 360 view of the road.
On the highway, the Vortech Mustang proves reliable and fun, and the Bassani stainless-steel mufflers ($570) are throaty, but not obnoxious. A set of Baer Racing 13.5-/13.0-inch (front/rear) cross-drilled rotors clamped by six-piston calipers prove fade free and easy to modulate, but don't improve stopping distances.
2005 Mustang GT Vortech Mustang GT
Power/Torque 300 hp/320 lb-ft 410 hp/417 lb-ft
0-60 mph 5.1 sec 4.6 sec
1/4 mile 13.5 @ 103.5 13.0 @ 108.5
Braking, 60-0 mph 125 ft 131 ft
600-ft slalom 65.4 mph 67.3 mph
Lateral Acceleration 0.87 g 0.92 g
Significant Others: Tuner Mustangs
Who: Roush Performance
Turnkey Tuner: Roush Stage 2 Mustang. $10,985 kit incorporates a full body kit, 18-inch wheels/tires, full Roush suspension, cat-back exhaust system, interior bits
Power parts: Cold-air intake, cat-back exhaust systemHandling hardware: Lower/stiffer springs, struts/shocks, front/rear anti-roll bars, lower rear control arms, urethane bushingsAero and bling: Front fascia, chin spoiler, rocker panels, rear valance, decklid spoiler, sport leather interior, white-faced gauges
What's in the works: Roush supercharger (adding 125 horsepower) with custom computer calibration
Who: Steeda Autosports
Turnkey tuner: Steeda Q335. $10,500 gets you a 335-horsepower engine package, a full suspension kit, 18x9.5-inch wheels/tires, body kit and hood, interior goodies, and billet rear badge
Power parts: Intake manifold "charge motion" plates, nitrous-oxide system, cold-air intake, custom computer calibration, underdrive pulley system, cat-back exhaust, stainless-steel headers, axle-back exhaust system
Handling hardware: Sport springs, billet strut tower brace, billet caster/camber adjusters, bumpsteer kit, anti-roll-bar mounts and end links, billet lower trailing arms, panhard bar, rear shock tower brace
Aero and bling: Street and competition rear wing, front splitter, functional race hood, polished interior knobs/buttons, pedal covers, carbon-fiber stuff, shifter handle
What's in the works: 400-horsepower Q400 tuner package with a Roots supercharger