Originally Posted by jimkaray
Things to ignore? Really? I would agree don't expect big power gains and keep expectations modest. The kid is ready to dive in so I say let him start with the basics and work toward the big stuff if he wants to stay with it.
Getting more air in and out, advancing the timing and tweaking the spark curve will always makes a difference, pushrod or not. Its a staple of hotrodding. To advance the timing, tweak the spark curve to take advantage of the increased air & fuel with a higher octane you need a chip to tune it. You can argue a custom chip is needed to see the true gains the mods will offer. The stock TB is more than adequate to support these basic mods so I agree its a waste to replace it. These motors ship with headers from the factory so aftermarket is really only for cosmetics.
Another good starter mod is underdrive pulleys. I like to also recommend synthetic lube in the engine, trans & rear as well. These free up a few HP and help with gas mileage too.
Keep in mind we're talking about a single port 97 Mustang here. This is a totally different animal from your 4.0 or any other car you may of worked on. These things simply do not respond to mods very well. To get big power you literally have to invest big bucks, and the things you mentioned won't do Jack. We're not pulling this out of our asses when we say this as both Roush and I as well as others have been there and learned the hard way.
Out of the stuff you mentioned you can't "chip" these cars, chips are outdated technology and not used on these types of vehicles. A tuner is used to do all those changes. You can't walk outside and simply adjust the timing, you have to use a tuner to do that but it has to be done with a dyno to ensure proper tune is set. It's not like a 5.0 where pretty much everybody knows advancing the base timing to 13* is an optimal point and good for a free 10 rwhp or so. This just isn't the same car. A 93 octane tune is 100% useless on these cars. The power difference between tunes is marginal to non existent. I personally tested the same car on the same dyno with a 93 vs 87 octane tune with my 98 V6 and had 0 difference given the variance in weather and the average across 3 runs. You could argue I did get 1 rwhp gain, but that's a minor difference that can't be accurately judged as you would see zero difference in the quarter.