KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
June 4, 2014
Photos By: KJ Jones

As time continues forward at warp speed, those of us who have remained dedicated to ’Stangbanging through the years now find ourselves acknowledging—albeit begrudgingly—the notion that the very early versions of our beloved, late-model Mustangs (Fox, SN-95/New Edge, and even first-gen Three-Valve S197s) certainly aren’t getting any younger.

However, despite this maturation, we strongly believe a Pony’s increasing age doesn’t necessarily mean it should be put out to pasture, so to speak; retired for a more-current-year ’Stang; or in an absolute worst case, a replacement of some other (brand) vehicle.

To the contrary, in this era of ’11-’14 Coyote-, Roadrunner-, and Trinity (5.8L)-motivated ’Stangs, the present actually is a darn near perfect time for the slightly older late-model Ponies. As we’ve said in past reports, bone-stock versions of the earlier rides—especially S197s—are in abundance, and they certainly are perfect for upgrading in whatever way your mind and budget can support.

With the the ’05-’10 Mustang GT being such a strong platform, many enthusiasts are now exploring upgrades that theoretically put the Three-Valve–powered Ponies in the same performance space as their younger, V-8-motivated siblings (’11-’14 GTs, and especially ’12-’14 Boss 302s, in naturally aspirated trim). Dale Hargrove is one such enthusiast. He owns the ’09 GT that headlines this tech effort, which focuses on making the Three Valve ’Stang’s power, handling, and braking characteristics as good as those of a ’12-’13 Boss.

Dale Hargrove’s ’09 GT sits low and ready after receiving a performance-and-handling makeover designed and installed by the crew at Brenspeed (highlighted by Edelbrock’s E-Force supercharger system, handling bits from Whiteline and Ford Racing Performance Parts, and a big-brake upgrade from StopTech). If you’re thinking the surgery took place in Indiana, you’re wrong by roughly 860 miles. We caught up with the installation and dyno tuning of this setup at the company’s new Lone Star digs located just outside Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas.

Of course, making such moves is best done with assistance from a reputable Mustang shop. Consultants and technicians who know the cars from stem-to-stern can help you make your vision become a reality. In the states near Texas (Oklahoma/Arkansas/Louisiana), Brenspeed’s Dallas-based hub is the place where dreams like this come true.

“For many years, we have had a very large mail-order customer base in the Dallas/Houston/San Antonio area. This is about an 18-plus-hour drive to our installation facility in Indiana,” says Don Jones, Brenspeed Texas’ man-in-charge. “Only a small percent of our customer base has the ability to visit Indiana for a professional installation. Opening an installation facility in the Dallas area made sense, as the drive is now much shorter for our customers in this region of the United States.”

In early 2014, yours truly made the trip to Dallas to check out Brenspeed’s new digs. While there, we watched Mustang specialists Cliff League and George Dockery transform Dale’s S197 from stone-stock to street-stout with a Brenspeed-designed suspension-and-power package that Don says is becoming quite popular with the Three-Valve set. The project’s highlights and dyno results are covered in these photos and captions. Check out the story for the full lowdown on how the boys get things done deep in the heart of Texas.

1. In addition to adding more than 225 (crankshaft) horsepower, Brenspeed Texas’ goal is to set up Dale’s Pony to handle turns as well or better than a ’12-’14 Boss 302 Mustang, and also whoa down the big steam. This is the rear setup, developed with Whiteline’s lower and upper control arms, with relocation brackets for the lowers, and Ford Racing Performance Parts’ lowering springs, shocks, and antiroll bar (Adjustable Handling Package).

2. Cliff bolts in the Whiteline Watt’s link, which will enhance the ’Stang’s traction and handling. Unlike a Panhard bar, which is stiffer due to its fixed attachment points, a Watt’s link allows the axle to remain centered below the car and move up and down in a true vertical plane. By moving in this fashion, the ’Stang’s roll center behaves exactly the same in left- or righthand turns. The Watt’s link system can be adjusted according to ride height, with changes coming by way of adjustable, chrome-moly control arms that are attached to the differential. Keeping the rear centered allows the rear tires to stay as close to equally weighted as possible in a live-axle environment.

3. For lowering the front, Brenspeed Texas also uses Ford Racing Performance Parts struts, springs and antiroll bar. A set of Whiteline’s aluminum ball joints and bumpsteer kit also were added. The bumpsteer pieces are required for all lowered S197 Mustangs, as excessive bumpsteer (a radical change in toe angle caused by the suspension moving up or down) is a direct byproduct of lowering the car and altering its suspension geometry.

4a-b. The balanced brake upgrades from StopTech’s Big Brake (front) and Sport Stop (rear) kits were chosen to ensure Dale can slow the Pony to safe stops once the power is added.

5. Having the ability to stop on a dime is something often overlooked by Mustang enthusiasts when serious engine-performance upgrades are made. The four-piston-caliper Touring version of StopTech’s Big Brakes shown here use a one-piece rotor design. The rotors are physically larger in diameter and mass than the stock discs (in this instance, 355x32mm versus 316x0mm), for superior braking leverage and heat dissipation. Brenspeed selected StopTech’s Para-aramid composite Street Performance brake pads for Dale’s Pony.

6. With suspension and brake installations complete, Brenspeed’s George Dockery begins the engine-upgrades process by removing the ’Stang’s fascia, radiator, intake manifold, throttle body, fuel injectors, serpentine belt, and various other components from the front and top of the engine.

7. Here is a comparative look at the stock radiator and Ford Racing Performance Parts’ bolt-in, aluminum radiator for ’05-’14 Mustangs. The new rad features a two-row core (1-inch tubes) and hand-fabricated aluminum tanks. Brenspeed likes to use this unit for performance packages such as ours, as it efficiently dissipates heat for engines producing nearly 700 horsepower.

FRPP’s Performance cooling fan (right) is the second piece used in Brenspeed’s cooling upgrade. The new fan, which actually is OEM equipment on ’13-’14 Shelby GT500s, features one additional blade, and a set of unique flap-style vents in the lower-left and lower-right corners.

8a-b. FRPP’s Performance cooling fan (right) is the second piece used in Brenspeed’s cooling upgrade. The new fan, which actually is OEM equipment on ’13-’14 Shelby GT500s, features one additional blade, and a set of unique flap-style vents in the lower-left and lower-right corners.

9. George lowers the new aluminum radiator in place. The radiator bolts right into the factory location without modification.

10. George and Cliff prepare the engine for the new Edelbrock E-Force supercharger by installing new spark plugs (NGK Iridium 7554) and taking care of some of the electrical/wiring tasks that are associated with the project (intercooler water pump, extending MAF harness). Brenspeed offers the blower and a host of complementary hardware as its own Stage 1 system, which includes key elements of Edelbrock’s Stage 1 kit (Eaton TVS 2.3L supercharger, intercooler, and more), combined with parts specifically selected by Brenspeed (SCT calibration, cold-air induction, NGK plugs, Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump, 3.5-inch/7-to-11-psi blower pulley and 41-lb/hr fuel injectors).

11. Two people are needed for lowering the Edelbrock supercharger into position. Once the blower is positioned, George locks the unit down by applying three stages of torque (7.5 ft-lb, 15 ft-lb, and finally 23 ft-lb) to each bolt.

12a-b. Super-hot supercharged air is cooled with a high-capacity, 110-square-inch air-to-water intercooler that bolts to the ’Stang’s front bumper, along with a high-volume water pump, which circulates coolant through the intercooler’s core.

13. The E-Force supercharger features this uniquely shaped, 85mm electronic throttle body that’s matched to the blower’s inlet for maximum efficiency. The short combination is void of the kinks, turns, and restrictions that are detrimental to making the power this setup is capable of producing.

14. In lieu of replacing fuel pumps, Brenspeed’s Stage 1 supercharger system includes a Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump, which increases fuel-pump voltage when boost starts to climb.

15. Edelbrock’s E-Force 2.3L supercharger is an Eaton Gen VI TVS piece featuring two 160-degree rotors (both rotors have four lobes) and an intergrated bypass valve. If the blower looks a little unconventional to you, that’s because it is inverted—literally upside down, if you will (the blower actually sits beneath the manifold). The unique design helps maximize the unit’s long intake runners, which increases torque at low rpm.

16. After installing the blower, Cliff and George bolt in a Dynatech one-piece aluminum driveshaft, and then close out the makeover by bleeding the brake system. While a complete brake flush isn’t required when Big Brakes are added, Brenspeed recommends upgrading the system with DOT4-spec fluid, which provides increased dry and especially wet boiling points over DOT3. Wheels and tires are then added, and Cliff performs a minor wheel alignment that will make the Pony driveable for road testing.

17a-b. With the ’Stang lowered on all fours, adjusting the Watt’s link (centering the rearend) is the final adjustment. Cliff uses a plumb bob to index the distance from the rear tires to a piece of string that’s taped to the rear quarter-panel. Once measurements are taken, the rear is moved to the right or left by adjusting the Watt’s link accordingly until the distance between tire and string is equal on both sides.

Ready for the dyno!


On the Dyno

Brenspeed prides itself on the solid power gains that come from its 4.6L, Three-Valve, forced-air performance packages. Baseline dyno-testing was done on Dale Hargrove’s bone-stock ’09 Mustang GT on the chassis dyno at the Cedar Hill, Texas, branch. Next, the Pony was upgraded with a selection of suspension-and-braking upgrades to support the increased performance. After that, Cliff League and George Dockery went about installing Brenspeed’s Stage 1 supercharger system, featuring Edelbrock’s 2.3L E-Force TVS unit.

“We try to understand the customer’s goals before we recommend any part,” says Brenspeed Texas’s Don Jones Jr. “In this case, the Edelbrock fit Dale’s goals perfectly. The blower will work well with his stock engine and the handling mods that were added. He will be able to get behind the wheel and drive this 450-rear-wheel- horsepower car without any difficulty.”

Just like its Indiana mothership, Brenspeed Texas uses a DynoJet 224 chassis dyno for all of the Mustang PCM calibrations and power/torque evaluations that are performed at the facility.

Brent White is the man behind all of Brenspeed’s custom PCM calibrations, and he was in the dyno cell with us at the Texas location laying a tune on the newly blown Three-Valve. As we had anticipated before doing the project, and per Brent’s preference (for a 91-octane, pump-gas supercharger package like this), his SCT tune is created with roughly 17 degrees of timing and sufficient fueling for maintaining an 11.7 air/fuel ratio when Dale is hard on the gas and in boost.

As the accompanying dyno chart shows, the power-adder segment of Brenspeed Texas’s performance package makes a huge difference, adding nearly 200 peak horsepower and more than 200 lb-ft of torque at the feet. When coupled with a suspension and braking that’s designed to help make the most of the gains during the spirited moments on the road or track, we think this setup is perfect for older stock S197s that are ready for a new identity.

We definitely timed our visit well, as Brenspeed owner and braintrust Brent White was on hand to put an SCT tune on the ECU in Dale’s newly hopped-up ’Stang. All calibrations are developed in-house by Brent, and the Texas facility is set up for full, real-time remote tuning by Brent and Cliff (for those times when Brent is socked in by snow in Indiana). Brenspeed also prepares and distributes several levels of thoroughly tested mail-order calibrations for its various supercharger packages. “Our calibrations are put through their paces on our own development vehicles before they’re released, which ensures a person receives a tune that will perform exactly the way it’s supposed to in their modified Mustang,” says George.

On The Dyno
Base E-Force Difference
RPM HP TQ HP TQ HP TQ
3.50 107.79 161.75 277.99 417.16 170.20 255.41
3.60 157.17 229.29 286.15 417.47 128.98 188.18
3.70 145.83 207.00 295.13 418.93 149.30 211.93
3.80 154.54 213.59 301.55 416.78 147.01 203.19
3.90 167.74 225.89 315.43 424.79 147.69 198.90
4.00 179.04 235.08 321.33 421.92 142.29 186.84
4.10 197.62 253.15 331.81 425.04 134.19 171.89
4.20 205.93 257.51 338.80 423.67 132.87 166.16
4.30 210.73 257.39 342.88 418.80 132.15 161.41
4.40 216.22 258.09 353.14 421.53 136.92 163.44
4.50 220.39 257.23 359.76 419.89 139.37 162.66
4.60 224.84 256.72 367.93 420.09 143.09 163.37
4.70 230.17 257.21 376.42 420.64 146.25 163.43
4.80 232.39 254.28 386.60 423.01 154.21 168.73
4.90 236.39 253.37 392.28 420.46 155.89 167.09
5.00 239.86 251.96 397.32 417.36 157.46 165.40
5.10 242.36 249.59 400.29 412.22 157.93 162.63
5.20 243.15 245.59 411.17 415.29 168.02 169.70
5.30 239.29 237.13 415.03 411.28 175.74 174.15
5.40 241.37 234.76 420.15 408.65 178.78 173.89
5.50 250.79 239.48 421.96 402.94 171.17 163.46
5.60 248.28 232.86 426.73 400.22 178.45 167.36
5.70 249.1 229.53 428.53 394.86 179.43 165.33
5.80 248.55 225.07 430.45 389.79 181.90 164.72
5.90 245.14 218.22 430.51 383.24 185.37 165.02
6.00 244.11 213.68 433.51 379.48 189.40 165.80
6.10 242.13 208.47 437.50 376.69 195.37 168.22
6.20 n/a n/a 438.51 371.47 n/a n/a
6.30 n/a n/a 437.94 365.1 n/a n/a
6.40 n/a n/a 440.39 361.4 n/a n/a
6.50 n/a n/a 441.83 357.01 n/a n/a
6.60 n/a n/a 438.38 348.85 n/a n/a
6.70 n/a n/a 436.5 342.17 n/a n/a
6.80 n/a n/a 433.88 335.11 n/a n/a


Horse Sense

No, Brenspeed hasn’t packed up and moved from its Pierceton, Indiana, home base, the company has just expanded a little, by setting up shop in Dallas, Texas. If you’re wondering which facility is “better” than the other, that should never be a concern. Both facilities have the same DynoJet 224 chassis dyno, and personnel who are well versed on ’05-to-present Mustangs (including GT500s), as well as 5.0L and 6.2L-powered F150s. While all of the phone orders, tech support, and scheduling is still handled out of Indiana, southern customers can now save time having the installation done in Texas.