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Mean Green: Joe vs Pro Tuning

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Words by Anthony DiPietro

Photos by Austin Akins

pic-1a

 

Ever seen a car you just gotta have?  Well for my friend Rick it was this 2014 Gotta Have it Green Mustang. Already the owner of a 2008 dark green Bullit Mustang that puts almost 700hp to the wheels, he just could not resist buying this bright green sibling to keep it company. And, as all such stories go, while this was bought to keep as a “driver”, once the mod bug bites that bastard is persistent. Within a few thousand miles the new car was sporting a cold air intake, lowered suspension, axle relocation brackets, cat back exhaust, black RTR wheels with Nitto NT-05 tires, 52lb injectors as well as a potent power adder – a P1SC polished ProCharger .

 

Now as we all know, there are two paths you can go down when putting a supercharger on a late model car: do it yourself with a plug in “canned” tune or take it to a professional to have it fine tuned by a pro. The original plan was that we would do it ourselves with online help from the gang at JPC. While no one had a good canned tune yet for a pro-charged 2014 that had been modded , Justin Burcham and the guys at JPC in Maryland were willing to sell Rick a starter tune and then work with him over the phone and computer to data log and fine tune it.

Out of the box, the car actually ran decent. We first had to make sure that everything was functioning as intended – good fuel pressure and no pinging. Then, we plugged in the laptop, and with Rick manning the computer keys and yours truly behind the wheel, we began the process of making fourth gear pulls. We first started from 2000 rpm to 4000 rpm and sending in the info on the first day. We would download a new tune, then run it from 4000 rpm to 6000 rpm in fourth again to see how the new tune worked the next day. Finally two runs from 4000 rpm to 7000 rpm to get the final few tweaks in.

I could see and feel the difference in each tune as the car built more boost sooner and pulled harder and smoother each run, while also smoothing out the idle and gear changes in normal unboosted driving.

 

The end result was a smooth driving, evil animal that could change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde with the twitch of your right foot. Given the chance at a local dyno day, Rick’s mean green ‘Stang was strapped down and made 549 rwhp on a Dynotech dyno! We were ecstatic with what we had been able to accomplish with our meager tuning abilities. Considering that we had no access to extra parts, no idea how close to the edge we could push it before doing something dumb and hurting a new car beyond simple fixing, we were satisfied this was as far as we could take it.

 

Was that the best it could do?  Having heard of professional tuners getting over 600 hp out of late model 5.0 coyote motors, Rick could not resist the Siren’s call of more horsepower. The call went out to one of the best, Jon Lund, and he agreed to meet us at Evolution Performance one fine day in early April. Having a profressional tune your car on a dyno means every last hp can be squeezed out safely while watching every parameter in real time before it can get out of hand and harm your motor. That means more boost, more timing, more fuel, and more power. Is it worth the expense? We’re about to find out.

 

Now before we go any further, we are well aware that Evolution uses a Mustang dyno which most feel is a more honest, real world numbers dyno compared to a Dynotech dyno, and we agree. While we would have loved to do same day, same dyno back to back runs, Jon Lund’s time is not cheap and not plentiful, and he had a plane to catch, so we have decided to use the industry standard of 10% to 15% difference and figure that Rick’s mean green machine was putting about 520 mustang dyno horses to the ground.

 

pic2a-jon talking with owner rick carment-Jon Lund speaking to owner Rick Carment )

 

Rick wanted me to drive the car down so I could see first hand from behind the wheel how it felt to wheel this beast in traffic. Let’s just say it was a relatively quick trip.

Upon arriving and checking out the car and its current tune, the plan that Jon and the guys at Evolution lined up was to start the day by installing ID1000-100lb injectors and a smaller 4.25inch pulley (in place of the stock 4.38 inch pulley) for more boost and an off-road x-pipe before even tried to re-tune it .

 

pic7-wrenching w chuck

 

With Chuck and Rob from Evolution spinning the wrenches, the new parts were quickly swapped in. Jon’s first base tune loaded and the car was strapped down on the rollers. The car had a much more raucous rumble echoing thru the building without the cats in place. We loved the burble while Jon ran the car up through the gears checking part throttle fueling before putting the lash to it and roaring up to redline. Ah, sweet music! And, the numbers looked good – 570hp at the wheels. With the new pulley the car was seeing 7.5 psi of boost compared to 5.0 psi that it saw with the stock pulley. The new injectors were having no trouble keeping up. We gave it a couple minutes to let the car cool while Jon spoke with Rick about how hard he wanted to push it. It was decided that since this was supposed to be his daily driver, a safe 93 octane pump gas tune was the final objective. Jon quickly rewrote a few lines of code, downloaded the new version of the tune, fired it up, and let it roar.

 

pic-4a-dyno graph

 

Final numbers after two runs with Weather Correction Factor were 574 rear wheel horsepower and 469ft/lbs of torque.

Rick was kind enough to toss me the keys once again, and we were off on an hour-plus cruise home. The car idled smoother, was easier to drive just off idle, and pulled like hell.

And, the cost of all this?  Well, the bill came out to right around $2,000 to pick up another 50hp and a better drive. By my math that’s $40 per horsepower. Worth it? Well anyone who’s spent money building cars and had balls enough to run the numbers thorough a calculator will tell you it generally cost about $35 per horsepower, so we were in the ballpark.

As it wasn’t my hard earned meager bucks we were spending, all I could think as I ripped third gear at 6500rpm was, “Hell yeah”! It was worth every penny!

 

pic-6-evolution on dyno

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