The significant modifications to date have been 3.55 gears, Trans-Go shift kit, PSC upper and lower control arms, Dynomax exhaust, underdrive pullies, and a Flex-a-Lite electric fan. Of course we've removed the air-intake silencer, installed a K&N panel filter, and performed a tune up. Timing is at 12 degrees initial, using 92 octane in the tank.

Playing around with a G-tech meter a week earlier showed consistent 14.60's at 102. We figured 14.60's was accurate, and the 102 was probably 4 mph high. (The G-tech measures terminal speed, whereas the track measures the final speed as an average between two points, sixty feet apart.) A bone stock AOD car from the factory, with stock exhaust and gears, would typically run low 15's, possibly high 14's. A five speed Mustang 5.0L or newer 4.6L, in stock form, would be expected to run mid to low 14's. A gear and exhaust upgrade on a T5 car is about all it takes to break into the 13's. In theory a 3400 lb car only requires 200 rear-wheel horsepower to run 13.90's. Of course in reality getting all 200 horsepower to the pavement is impossible without slicks. Nevertheless, we would have been happy if our AOD car ran 14.50's at over 95 mph on radials. Boy, were we in for a surprise!

We took the car to Sacramento Raceway, a track we are very familiar with. The weather started out a balmy 85 degrees, but cooled off into the 70's after sunset. The single most important factor in drag racing is "hooking up", tire spin is the enemy and will kill ET's. Since we're running on stock-sized radials (Pep Boys Futura GLH 225-60R15), getting a decent launch would be a challenge. Launching with radials is a hit or miss situation. Radials, unlike slicks, are not made to flex and store potential energy, so they tend to break free and loose traction. If the track is poorly prepped and slick, 60fts could be in the 2.40's or worse. If the track has a fair amount of VHT and is sticky, playing around with launch rpm, tire pressure, and burnout time could get the car into the low 2.10's. We would not expect to achieve 2.0's or lower with the stock torque converter and radials.

We did not remove any weight from the car on the first six runs (removed the spare and jack on the final run.) In fact, with the upgraded 95 GT power seats, we're slightly heavier than stock (an estimated 3400 lbs.)

The first run ever with this car was a good sign of things to come. Even though I screwed up the shifts, the car ran a 14.59 at nearly 97 mph. The sixty-foot was a decent (for radials) 2.16 seconds. Shifting a stock AOD is challenging. The stock shift points (even with the Trans Go) are too low for letting the trans shift itself, so you must manually row the gears. However the AOD does not have distinct positions for 2nd and 3rd gear. Rather the Drive position (D) functions as 2nd and 3rd gear. Even if you manually start out in (1) and shift into (D), the trans will automatically shift from 2nd to 3rd at a lower than desired rpm. In order to actually control the 2nd gear in the trans, you must shift into (D), then quickly pull the shifter back into (1). When you are ready to shift into the 3rd, move the lever back up to (D). This pattern, commonly known as the 1-D-1 shuffle, is tricky and if you're working fast you can accidentally shift into OD...which is precisely what I did.

The key to making EFI cars run their potential, is to run then at low engine temperatures. So we thoroughly cooled the car between runs, a clear advantage of having an electric fan.
The next several runs, with the shifting down, really showed the power of the stock EFI motor. The car ran 14.35 and 14.27 at 97 mph. Then, with additional cooling via icing the intake, the car ran back to back 14.20's at 97.5 mph! This was far beyond our expectations for an AOD car with 3.55 gears. (Typically AOD cars perform best with 3.73 or 4.10 differential gears.)

With the staging lanes about to close for the night, we decided to go for broke on the last run. We cooled the engine for nearly thirty minutes, and iced the intake. The spare tire and jack were taken out of the hatch to reduce the weight by fourty pounds or so. The real advantage however was in eliminating the serpentine belt. This would eliminate the drag on the crank from the waterpump, which typically robs as much as 8% of an engines total horsepower. Reducing the drag from the other accessories would add to that value as well. Overheating wasn't a concern because the earlier runs showed the engine wasn't reaching full operating temp (180 degrees) until some point down the return road. I threw the belt and wrench in the car so I could reinstall it immediately after making the pass.

The results of our last minute attempts? 13.94 at 99.47 mph!

A bone-stock AOD mustang can be expected to run 15.0's, 14.90's if you are lucky. Knocking off over one second without touching the long-block, power adders, or slicks, isn't easy but can be done if you make the following modifications to other areas of the car. Even though the electric fan and pullies help free up power on the street, they actually served no purpose during the 13.94 run because we eliminated the belt. We've listed the approximate costs and ET reductions in brackets.
With a T5 manual car, you obviosuly don't need the shift kit, but all the other mods can get a manual car into the 13.70's with good driving.
  • 3.55's gears, minimally, are a must.
    Estimated gain, 2 to 3 tenths. ($150 + labor)

  • Trans Go Shiftkit is needed to speed up the AOD, and to hold rpms to 5000.
    Estimated gain, 2 tenths. ($110)

  • Free-flowing Dynomax exhaust and shorty headers.
    Estimated gain, 1 to 2 tenths. ($500)

  • Performance Suspension Components upper and lower control arms resulted in low sixty-foot times on 225-60R15 radials! Estimated gain, 2 tenths on radials! ($530)

  • Remove air intake silencer, add new air filter or K&N.
    Estimated gain, <1 tenth. ($free - $50)

  • Remove accessory belt (or short belt), ice intake.
    Estimated gain, 2 tenths. ($free)

  • Drive it like a rental. (Priceless!)
Timeslip Log
1/8 ET
1/8 MPH
1/4 ET
1/4 MPH
no belt
iced intake
1 (7/14/00)
miss shift

Tech Archives Project Cars Readers Cars Feature Cars