So I just bought my first stang ('11 GT Premium, very excited about it) and am absolutely loving the power. That being said, some added power and kick wouldn't be the worst thing in the world either..... So I have two main questions to kick this thread off:
#1 . I want to upgrade my exhaust to really achieve that full muscle car sound. The stock exhaust just doesn't have the exact right feel for me. After extensive research, I have decided that the Borla S-type exhaust is the perfect sound and rumble (with NO DRONE) for me. However their catback systems are priced at around $1300 which is no small price for a kid trying to finish his senior year of college Is there any significant benefit to the catback system over the axleback s-type system they offer? Will the sounds be any different? Does the catback provide more power because of the better flow it gives? I have read in a couple of threads that the catback is only really necessary if you are planning on doing a forced induction set up, which leads me to my second question.....
#2 . I am looking to squeeze some more power out of my 5.0, but I am hoping to stay away from any forced induction set ups. This is mostly due to the fact that this car is a daily driver for me so I don't want to affect the reliability, as well as because frankly I don't have anywhere near the sufficient amount of funds to buy and install one of these set ups with the supporting mods. What kind of bolt on modifications can I install to get some boosts in power? I am hoping to buy a CAI/tuner kit soon, so I guess I am asking what mods would be most optimal after these... I have searched many forums and found many conflicting answers. For example, I have read some people say that with the proper tune, a catback with shorty headers can pack a real punch, while other people say it won't and that this set up is only really necessary for forced induction set ups... so what bolt ons would you guys recommend?
If I had what you have, I would go with axleback exhaust, cai and tunes. That will give you the change in sound you are looking/listening for as well as a mild but noticeable boost in HP. That will help keep your costs down for now. If down the road you want to add other power adders (high flow cats, differential gearing, etc.) then a tuner from American Muscle will give you the flexibility to do that. That is just my opinion.
I bought the Borla S system last year at the Ford Nationals. Sounded great there, but where I live is quiet neighborhood and my neighbors four houses down can hear it when I start my car. Ended up taking them off and putting the stock mufflers back on after two weeks. If I could do it over I would of spent that money on coilover shocks.
To answer your first question, a cat-back exhaust includes resonator deletes as well as new mufflers. I personally still have resonators on my car for now... I wouldn't expect to see any real HP gains from either or axle-back or a cat-back system. Sound is the only noticeable change you will see/hear. For starters, I went with the Corsa Xtreme axle-backs and in my opinion they were not loud enough for me. So a year later I did a cat delete. I found that doing each part individually may be easier to achieve that perfect sound you are going for. So my advise, start with axle-backs and see how you like them. If you simply want them louder, either order a cat delete or a resonator delete if you don't want any issues with inspections.
For the second part... DO NOT BUY SHORTY HEADERS!! These 5.0 engines come factory with shorties. They are not a typical manifold you would see on other cars. They have plenty of flow and will perform perfect unless you go boost... Then go for long tubes. I can tell you that the CAI/Tuner setup is worth the money. I went with the AirAid Race CAI and Bama Tuner and I was very happy with the results. Definitely power you can feel. As for other bolt-on power adders, it comes down to what you want out of the car. I have played with the idea of a new intake manifold (Boss 302 or Cobra Jet), but for my application, it wouldn't make sense. The stock manifold is great for low end torque and good for high end power. These other manifolds take away low end torque for more high end power. So for me, who doesn't go to the track and I don't typically run up near redline alot, It didn't make sense for a new manifold. Those are really the extent of "bolt-on" adders. Cams could be a possibility, but could also take the drive-ability out of you daily driver.
I hope this kinda helps with your decision. Let me know if you have any more questions. I have done alot of research on bolt-ons and whether they are worth the money. Also being 24, I understand your situation with college, money and time to spend on these mods. Sometimes its more beneficial to put the money into cosmetics to give your ride a unique look that is only yours.
So at car show yesterday (The Log Cabin Car show every Wednesday for any Rochester area members) I met a fellow 5.0 owner who is going to sell me his Roush axle backs for $200 which I decided is the best way to go. Its cheap, got a great sound, and no drone. My next modification is going to be a CAI/tune combo for sure. I think I want to go with a Bama tuner just because of their offer for free custom tunes for life After that, I'm kinda up in the air. You say shorty headers aren't really worth it... What about an x-pipe? I know it will make a raspy-type exhaust sound, but will there be any performance gains?
So the X vs H pipe debate has been going on for quite some time. Here is my understanding of it.
Improved airflow at high rpm
slight increase in hp at high rpm
gives exhaust a raspy sound
Comes stock on mustangs
gives exhaust a deeper sound. more rumble, less rasp
Now unless you plan on doing an O/R mid pipe swap, an aftermarket after-cat x-pipe really wont do much. It may change the sound a bit, but not really anything else. Most people who do any sort of mid pipe swap do prefer the x-pipe because it has been proven to have higher hp gains. But once again, its all about what you want. If you are going for sound, your decision might be different than if you are more concerned with what your dyno sheet might say.
I personally have an O/R x-pipe on currently and yes, there is way more rasp than with the factory h-pipe. It is significantly louder too. I did not notice any performance gains after switching, but I also wasn't looking for any.
As far as muscle car sounds go, I have the RTR Street Axlebacks. Deep low RPM growl but tapers off at 3500 rpm and up. The Competition Axlebacks are supposed to be louder. They aren't cheap though. If you're lucky, you may be able to squeeze 5-10 hp out of an axleback.
The roush exhaust you plan to grab for $200 isn't a bad start. That is one of the louder exhausts available.
With a offroad mid pipe, it certainly gives you a greater potential for hp with a slightly better flow, but it will mostly be a sound/volume (db) change.
Headers are alot of work to change out and will require a whole new mid pipe and can get expensive. Sounds good though.
High flow cats come with the same warnings, but in addition make sure you will pass inspection (unfamiliar with Ontario's rules) otherwise you could be in for a headache.
The biggest bang for your buck is a tune. The change in throttle response alone is worth it. Some CAIs for our cars are really warm/hot air intakes. Some still pull from the fender if the correct mount is used, but some of them aren't isolated from the hot air of the engine.To get the most out of a CAI, you will need a tune regardless of any manufacturer's claims.
Intake manifolds can increase power as well. I did the Cobra Jet intake mainly to be unique at car shows, but the change in power was greatly enjoyed. The boss intake will rob you of a little torque down low, but give some hp up top. The cobra jet loses a tiny bit of torque down low, but gives a better increase of hp than the boss up top. Not a surprise as the cobra jet program was built for drag racing. I don't have experience with the boss IM drivability, but the CJ IM does drive a little different and tunes can take a little ironing out due to the massive size of the throttle body. It will definitely be double the cost to have a CJ IM than a Boss IM in parts alone.
Personally, as others have said a tune and cosmetic mods may be a better suit before you turn the car into a money pit. I started cosmetically and slowly built up power as funds allowed over the last few years.
To see what I've done, check out my build thread here
I know that this thread is stupid old, but just to address some things here. The stock headers can certainly be improved upon even with going the Shorty header route. The Kooks Super Street Headers are a good example and will pickup additional HP over the stock headers while still maintaining an emissions friendly system. The 1 7/8ths primaries are a bit big for a stock system, but you will still pick up some additional power and even more if you decide to go with something like the JEGS cat delete pipes. It would be a fairly inexpensive system (~$850 range). The reason IMO why people say not to buy shorty headers is that they do make less power than long tubes, but not by a whole lot. If you are on a budget and not looking for all out performance and a great sound than I think they are a great choice especially in inspection compliant states. The problem with headers is that they are a pain in the butt to get in and can take a weekend to put in in your driveway. The shorties are a little bit easier to do than long tubes, but still. When it comes to headers though, reuse the factory hardware and exhaust gaskets.
Lund also offers free tunes for life unless you go with something like their Flex Fuel tune which allows you to switch between 93 & E85 without having to change tunes or their ghost cam or E85 or Cobra Jet tunes. IMO it is a far better option than the Bama tunes unless you go with the VMP tunes, but those aren't free tunes for life. When it comes to the intakes, the stock factory intake is one of the best that you can get, but you will pick up a slightly more HP with a Steeda, Airad, and I have been hearing good things about the PMAS intakes. I would limit my options to those in all honesty as the tune is where you will pick up the most hp, not necessarily the CAI. The two best bang for your buck mods are a tune and off road pipes. I wouldn't spend too much time trying to guess between an X & H pipe as you are MAYBE 2-3HP difference between the two styles and just go with some JEGS cat delete pipes, the BBK ones seem to have some fitment issues every now and than.
As far as Cams .... well here are my cams during the tuning process:
These are a bit rowdier spec wise than your typical Comp Stage 3 cams and even with the Cobra Jet and monoblade the driveability is perfect! It all comes down to having someone who knows what they are doing and who can dial in a tune the correct way.No need to cheap out on tunes or tuners.