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Old 07-07-2013, 10:11 PM   #1
Allthehorses
 
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Default What upgrades make most difference in a V6?

I just bought my first car. A '97 V6 Mustang with about 130K miles on it. I'm very mechanically inclined, one of the best auto students at my school. So I wanted to get a car that I could take the opportunity to learn from modifying it and increasing its performance, which I think Mustangs fit the bill for very well. I don't have the kind of money to buy a V8 or pay for insurance, but I'm still quite proud to now own a Mustang regardless. Im the president of our schools Car Club, and I want to show other students what can be accomplished with the right amount of effort.
My question is, what are the most effective upgrades or mods I can install or create to get the most bang for my buck and time? Or what are some good general things to know about 97 V6 Mustangs?
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:40 PM   #2
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Well it is quite an old car with a lot of miles on it. Nevertheless it's a good car. Always my first answer will be cold air intake. Then a true dual exhaust. If you got the time take a look at american muscle they have great vids on cheap and fairly inexpensive v6 mods
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:57 AM   #3
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You need to consider what you want to do with the car. There are different aspects of performance. For example a drag race set up has a different focus from an autocrosser, so you should have a long term plan as to where it is you're wanting to go with the car. The 6 is lighter and has a better weight balance giving it an edge when the focus on braking & handling. For serious straight line performance you'll want to go with a power adder like turbo or supercharger. Engine wise there are lots of little mods like a CAI, underdrive pulleys, performance chip to start you off but don't expect them to result in big power gains. Look to the GT for stock take off parts for a cheap solution for starter upgrades on things like brakes, swaybars, struts, exhaust and rear end. The T-Bird Super coupe is a popular source for an inexpensive route to a supercharger upgrade. Luckily there is now a ton of mod history for your car well documented and on the web. So all you need to do is the research, set a realistic goal and work toward it a little at a time.
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:10 AM   #4
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1) Find a good junk yard to get cheap(if that's possible) parts.
2) Ignore expensive advise.
3) 7.5 rear put in any 3.73 you can find that fits and a cheap Ford TRACK LOC Posi.
Your not going to pushing big numbers so an 8.8 is not needed. Unless you "Blow/NOS.
4) FRPP CAI for V6's, the best one for your application also used in the Bullet model. A real
cold air intake that looks good and requires a tune(that tells me it's actually doing
something).
5) 93 Octane tune, power isn't cheap otherwise get an economy car.
6) Yes true dual exhaust, Long tube if you can with high flow Cats, MAC Pro Chamber H-
pipe and good FRPP mufflers. The MAC Pro is a steel box the size of a phone book
where the "H" would be(will make your v6 sound good and FRPP mufflers are tunes to
sound good on a Mustang.
7) With all this you may be able to up the Throttle Body to a BBK 70mm.
8) The best you can do cheap on these is Air-in, Exhaust-out as fast as possible.
9) PnC the heads, L/T's, CAI, TB, Exhaust fast flow is best bet for cheap power.
10) Your Stangs is possibly a 3.8 mine was a 4.0 so some things may not apply but don't:

Use that T/B spacer, especially with a 70mm T/B.
4.10 rear unless you want low milage but it's fun
Use an X-Pipe, Raspy! You don't need anymore Raspy!

Do: Find some wrecked GT's and cannibalize them.

Later

Last edited by VistaBlueFrank68; 07-08-2013 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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Um, set a goal, then make your plan.

Things to ignore on a pushrod V6 motor:

Cold air intakes
"Performance chips"
Anything higher than 87 octane unless you are using a power adder (supercharger/turbo/nitrous)
Throttle body upgrades (unless using a power adder)
Throttle body spacers
X vs H pipe doesn't matter b/c of the firing order
"Headers"

Skip anything that applies to a 4.0L SOHC motor - as they are completely different than your single port 3.8L OHV.

Want big power, skip the bolt ons and just put a supercharger on it. You will nickel and dime yourself to get minimum power gains if you screw around with bolt ons.

I build cars from the suspension/brakes up.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:16 PM   #6
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For a 97 Mustang Roush hit all the key points.

Basically go supercharger or nickle and dime yourself to death for literally no power.

A good additional upgrade is a 99-04 upper intake/head split port assembly. Without any porting (which I would recommend) this swap is good for 40 horse power in it's own. It will also drastically improve the performance boost from a supercharger due to it's better air flow and increased flow rate over the 94-98 single port design.
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13 Mustang GT CS - 380 RWHP, 370 TQ
13 Mustang V6 Pony Package - 270 RWHP, 260 TQ

08 Mustang GT - 285 RWHP, 305 TQ (sold)
99 Mustang SVT Cobra - 280 RWHP, 290 TQ (sold)
11 Mustang V6 - 270 RWHP, 260 TQ (sold)
95 Mustang Cobra - N/A 250 RWHP, 275 TQ; S/C 400 RWHP, 400 TQ (sold)
97 Mustang GT - 190 RWHP, 250 TQ (sold)
00 Mustang V6 - 145 RWHP, 184 TQ (sold)
98 Mustang V6 - 125 RWHP, 210 TQ (sold)
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LilRoush View Post
Um, set a goal, then make your plan.

Things to ignore on a pushrod V6 motor:

Cold air intakes
"Performance chips"
Anything higher than 87 octane unless you are using a power adder (supercharger/turbo/nitrous)
Throttle body upgrades (unless using a power adder)
Throttle body spacers
X vs H pipe doesn't matter b/c of the firing order
"Headers"

Skip anything that applies to a 4.0L SOHC motor - as they are completely different than your single port 3.8L OHV.

Want big power, skip the bolt ons and just put a supercharger on it. You will nickel and dime yourself to get minimum power gains if you screw around with bolt ons.

I build cars from the suspension/brakes up.
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.
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:54 PM   #8
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Yes, ignored.
All those spacers/pullies/'tunes'/higher octane/air intakes etc will net you no more than 3-4 hp total when you put them all together on an otherwise stock 94-98 3.8L V6 Mustang - and for how much $$? $400-$500? More?? Too much for the power gained, that's for sure. He'd get more power just doing a basic tune up on a worn out motor.

Trust me, I've spent over a decade looking at every way possible to squeeze power out of the pushrod V6 no matter what the cost.
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimkaray View Post
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.
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13 Mustang GT CS - 380 RWHP, 370 TQ
13 Mustang V6 Pony Package - 270 RWHP, 260 TQ

08 Mustang GT - 285 RWHP, 305 TQ (sold)
99 Mustang SVT Cobra - 280 RWHP, 290 TQ (sold)
11 Mustang V6 - 270 RWHP, 260 TQ (sold)
95 Mustang Cobra - N/A 250 RWHP, 275 TQ; S/C 400 RWHP, 400 TQ (sold)
97 Mustang GT - 190 RWHP, 250 TQ (sold)
00 Mustang V6 - 145 RWHP, 184 TQ (sold)
98 Mustang V6 - 125 RWHP, 210 TQ (sold)
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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So much to argue about and so little time:-)
So the OP is looking to mod, learn and spend his money wisely. Some of that is subjective so he needs to follow up and research each mod and make his own decision. As I read his post he isn't asking about big power just yet but I agree it is important to look at the big picture and have realistic expectations. While many of the minor mods were expensive when you were on the leading edge of the performance effort for these motors, they can now be found used for cheap. That goes for the big mods too or even a motor swap but its all relative you your budget, goals and skills.
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Originally Posted by jthorn9 View Post
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.
An awfully presumptuous and condescending comment. Of course I keep that in mind. Can you remind me what cars I've owned & worked on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jthorn9 View Post
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.
Unfortunately "very well" is relative to something he doesn't have so that's a big problem. He'll have to answer is 'very well' good enough.
You learned that big power costs big bucks. That's so cute:-) (busting your ***** here) Duh, we all had to learn that and so will the op. Goals should be realistic but he may have goals different than yours. Or, maybe the same as when you started.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jthorn9 View Post
Out of the stuff you mentioned you can't "chip" these cars, chips are outdated technology and not used on these types of vehicles.
I'm all for a flash tuner, personally I just think of using a chip for these cars, consider it a flashback if you'll pardon the pun. I see at least one chip is still available, btw. The point was how to make those changes. The tech tools to make the changes evolves but the principle behind making them hasn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jthorn9 View Post
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.
Who did the your tune, I think I might want to avoid him:-) If this was a custom 87 tune optimized for you then I can imagine little change to peak # with the 93. More to the story than peak #'s though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jthorn9 View Post
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.
I prefer to argue that a dyno is simply an advanced tuning tool and not the same as real world driving experience. A singe rwhp # data point with out any overall context means nothing. You need to examine and improve the entire power curve and expand the power band. A more important # to know is what was the change to your avg rwhp? A motor is only at peak HP a small fraction of time compared to the rest of the time its making power. Next to consider is HP means crap to these cars, more important is what was the change to your avg torque #'s? A small motor and heavy car needs torque improvement NOT HP improvement? Maybe those numbers were unchanged as well, I don't know.
All in all I agree with your end game but that may not be for everyone. I agree you really want to consider cost/benefit but think you can do a lot of little things for not a lot of money if you are smart. Yes it may only be little gains, but he is going to be modding and evaluating and learning.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:20 PM
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