Tuning the Ford Mustang

"The birth of an Iconic American Muscle Car"

The Mustang has been around for many years now, originally released in 1964.

It has been the star car in many movies and there is a great modding community built up around this Iconic muscle car.

It holds the accolade as one of the longest running production car models in the world and has quite a selection of aftermarket parts and tuning kits for it.

In 1994 an extensive and somewhat controversial restyling took place, engine choices ranged from a 3.8 litre to the 5.4 litre.

See our video which provides a complete introduction to Ford Tuning, it contains some tips on performance and handling modifications.

In 2005 the 5th generation mustang was restyled and relaunched recapturing the essence of the original car with its quad head lamp arrangement.

2015 saw a 6th generation Mustang, it boasts an all new independent rear suspension and more aggressive styling. This was updated in 2018 with a light redesign, and new engine lineup with power increases on most engines.

There are a lot of performance tuners and modifiers around specializing in the Mustang. The Shelby GT model is based upon the standard Ford GT with upgraded parts.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

It has been extensively tuned and with the Shelby upgrades makes around 319 brake horsepower. 2007 saw Shelby introduce a 500 bhp model using a supercharged 5.4 litre V8 engine. These power gains show the potential for tuning in the basic mustang models, and these tuned Mustangs can make even more power when you take the mods to the next level.

With some careful planning and research plus time and money, you can get your Mustang running a 7 second quarter mile.

Roush Performance and Saleen Autosport have also produced some high power versions of the Ford Mustang. There is certainly no shortage of performance Mustang parts available. With a fairly substantial outlay and some careful planning it is possible to run a sub 10 second quarter mile time.


Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the Mustang.

If you set the toe out to around 1.5 degrees on the front, and add slight negative camber then cornering will greatly improve.*

We would go to a maximum drop of 45 mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

A drop of around 40-50mm will lower the centre of gravity and we have noted big cornering gains through tweaking the camber and toe settings, particularly at the front with toe out and some negative camber.

*The exact settings depend on your engine and model year but this is the sort of thing you can discuss in our forum with our other Mustang owners.

Engine Tuning modifications.

Peak power is all well and good but if you want a truly driveable car it will need a wide power band and lots of low down torque. Whilst a lot of car part makers will claim peak BHP figures what you really need is a dyno plot showing the full torque curve.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your Mustang

  1. Air Intake and high flowing exhausts - Please be warned on their own these mods won't ADD TORQUE in most applications, but they permit you to lift power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  2. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  3. Mustang Suspension Tuning - Upgrading your suspension greatly enhances your Mustang road holding and cornering. Poly Bushes and Coilovers are typically fitted to achieve this
  4. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. Not always not a great upgrade for all Mustang engines.
  5. Tunes - A tune/remap offers the most power for the money, replacement ECUs, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  6. Brake Mods - Stopping your Mustang needs to be listed in your priority list.
  7. Fast road cams are are often the best upgrade for an engine, but ideally be setup by someone familiar with setting them up on your car and tracking one down can be a challenge but you'll probably find a local firm to regrind a stock cam .
  8. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - A New Turbo is the most efficient approach to improve intake air supply, ensuring you are able to combust more fuel and make better power figures. Although one of the most technically difficult mods you'll see massive gains.

Mustang Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap, Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels, Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter, Suspension upgrade (drop 24mm - 36 mm.).

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injector, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Sports gearbox, Engine balancing, Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Your goal when tuning should be a nice flat torque range. You want to avoid sending all the torque to be at the top end of the rev range unless you are creating a motor sport car.

In this article we shall give a limited introduction to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance part.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest torque gains for your money as far as a single performance upgrades goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

It maximises the intake and exhaust durations and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a competition cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

When pushing up the power you will need to look at to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you have flat spots and power surges after your tuning mods you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well.

Upgrading the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Mustang's uprated injectors.

Internal head work ensures that the engine breathes as efficiently as possible. A 3 or 5 angle valve job will also make a big difference to mid range torque and low end power.

The headers and exhaust header/manifolds should also be upgraded if you are serious about big performance gains on your Mustang.

The larger power gains come from forced induction with a choice of either, a supercharger or turbo kit. Many of these bolt on and a 5 psi boost can raise horsepower by 115-120! We have even seen Mustangs hitting power figures around 1000bhp and pulling sub 10 second quarter mile runs.

With some additional internal engine work higher boost can be applied leading to significant performance gains.

Attention will also need to be spent upgrading the exhaust for a better flowing exhaust system and also the air intake can be improved.

Some owners complain that third gear is annoying so upgrading the gear box for a closer ratio box and short throw shifter will also makes the car more pleasant to drive.

Mustang Intake and exhaust modifications.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Please note that WE DO NOT SEE IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car extensively and are finding that the standard air intake has become the bottleneck.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications.

TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts can help increase the flow of air through the engine. But if the exhaust is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of your flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Getting the head polished and ported will allow you to get more air into each cylinder.

This is definitely a job for a pro with a flow bench.

Your clutch can lose you loads of power as you increase the power if it starts to weaken and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 48%.

Fit an upgraded clutch to avoid power leak through the transmission. The best mods in our experience for your Mustang are fast road camshaft, remap, induction and exhaust, suspension.

Remaps offer large power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful. However a tune/remap on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

Adding forced induction will see massive power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. Turbos increase power in increasing proportion to the engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

Superchargers however will give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is simpler. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the compression ratio of the engine .

You will also need to increase the size of the throttle body as appropriate to maximise air flow into the engine.

Mustang Wheel modifications.

Because alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they can help to cool the brake disks.

Pay attention to your choice of tyres (tires) for your car, a good soft compound tire can really enhance your cars handling. Large Mustang alloys can decrease performance.

If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Because of this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 19 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Mustang options in more detail with our Mustang owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Ford tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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