Pony Wars Episode 8: The Champion Is Crowned

One of the greatest rivalries in our time has been going on since 1908. The competition is as intense today as it ever has been and the enthusiast will fight tooth and nail to tell you who the real winner is regardless of what the results say. We are talking about none other than the battle between Ford and Chevrolet and, more specifically, the Pony Wars.

To give you a quick recap of the competition, we decided to take the two pony cars–a 2017 Camaro SS and a 2017 Mustang GT–and battle it out to see who the victor would be. We dyno’d the pair first to get a baseline, then added $5,000 worth of parts to each car and turned them loose on the drag strip, road course, dyno, and even tested the braking. After the smoke settled, the Camaro was the winner with 3 points for the drag race and 2 points for the dyno challenge. But the competition from the Mustang was fierce as it won the road race for 3 points and the braking challenge for 1 point. Final score: 5 points for the Camaro and 4 points for the Mustang.

For Round Two we strapped on some serious parts with a budget of $15,000 per car in upgrades. Both vehicles received ProCharger D-1X superchargers with race intercoolers and with the power numbers expected, serious modifications needed to be made to harness the newly found horsepower and torque.

The Mustang received a ton of suspension upgrades from Steeda including, lower control arm bearings, knuckle-to-toe-link bearings, competition dual-rate springs, front lower control arms, front adjustable shocks, rear swaybar, S550 subframe alignment and support kit, and rear IRS subframe support braces. To help the Mustang come to a halt, the Baer 15-inch 2015-2018 Mustang GT PP EradiSpeed front rotor upgrade was utilized, along with Steeda brake lines. DeatschWerks 1,200cc fuel injectors made sure the fuelling for the ‘Stang was sufficient in conjunction with a JMS PowerMax FuelMax fuel pump voltage booster. GForce Performance Engineering half-shaft axles eliminated any questions of safety over the factory units, and the driveshaft was replaced with a super light QA1 REV Series carbon fiber driveshaft. With the Mustang strapped to the Dynojet chassis dyno, it was time to see what kind of power could be extracted. Our Pony Wars stallion put down 809 horsepower and 586 lb-ft.

Unlike the Mustang, the Camaro received a new forged long-block build put together by L&R Engines, which included parts from ARP Bolts, COMP CamsMAHLE Motorsports, SCAT Crankshafts, and Texas Speed and Performance. The engine was not the only thing getting an upgrade in the Camaro, BMR Suspension helped us out with the suspension, and GForce Performance Engineering came to the rescue with bulletproof axles and an aluminum driveshaft. The last dyno session for the SS was nothing short of extraordinary with the final numbers at 829.26 horsepower and a monstrous 711.32 lbs-ft of torque. These numbers netted the Camaro a win in the $15K dyno challenge and 2 points.

The next contest for our rivals was back at the drag strip, and, by the dyno numbers, it would appear that the Camaro had a considerable advantage going into the race. That was not the case, and after several passes, it was clear that the Camaro did not know what to do with that massive torque. After several passes, changes in tire pressure and tuning adjustments, the best the SS could muster was a 6.67 to the Mustang’s 6.61. The Mustang was the clear winner of this event with a better elapsed time, sixty-foot, and four more miles per hour over the Camaro. 3 points were awarded to the Mustang, and the contest was now tied with 7 points for the Mustang and 7 points for the Camaro.

The final race would take place on the road course at Button Willow Raceway, and we would finally be able to crown the pony car champion. Well, it didn’t exactly shake out that way. Both cars were plagued with problems of overheating and parts failure. Neither the Camaro or the Mustang was able to complete even a single lap, so we loaded up and headed to the shop.

The Camaro suffered from a broken water pump, and both catalytic converters were clogged up. Naturally, we installed a new water pump, and the cats were removed and hollowed out for better exhaust flow. BBK Performance sent us off-road pipes for the Mustang so that we would not have the same problem with the catalytic converters as well.

Mishimoto came to the rescue on both cars with a new auxiliary radiator (P/N MMRAD-CAM8-16) on the Camaro. The performance auxiliary radiator on the SS consists of an aluminum construction with durable TIG-welded end tanks. The dual-pass design offers maximum efficiency for temperature reduction over the stock radiator while increasing the efficiency by 10-percent. It also offers 14-percent more surface area over the factory Chevrolet radiators to keep the engine cool under boost.

The GT received a direct-fit Mishimoto performance radiator (P/N MMRAD-MUS8-15) that offers a 52mm 3-row core and increases the coolant capacity 129-percent over the stock GT radiator. This replacement radiator also increases the air surface area 55-percent over the stock performance package (GT350) radiator as well. These units are fully brazed aluminum cores, that fit both manual and automatic vehicles, and TIG-welded to perfection. All of Mishimoto’s radiators come with a lifetime warranty so you never have to worry about the quality or defects with the products.

Mishimoto came through in a big way for the Pony Wars, allowing us to upgrade both cooling systems on the cars and get the excessive heat under control.

After both cars were mended, we headed back to the track and hoped to crown the winner for Pony Wars once and for all. The vehicles received a new set of Hawk Performance brake pads, new 888R Toyo Tires, and the tanks were topped off with VP Racing Fuels MS109 fuel. We also resorted to a lower boost level to try and get the cars under control in and out of the corners. Instead of Button Willow, this time we visited nearby Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, California to try our luck. As driver Rob Krider pushed the paces of both vehicles, it is evident that despite our efforts we were still going to have thermal issues with both cars due to the desert temperatures. The decision was made to switch cars every couple of laps until we were happy with the performance of both pony cars.

And The Winner Is

In the end, there can only be one. The Camaro came out on top with the quickest lap of 2:07.9 to the Mustang’s slower 2:08.8. Nine-tenths of a second separated the cars at the finish, and, due to the circumstances of the Camaro winning, there was no need to do the braking challenge. Both vehicles fought hard, but the SS had taken the victory and tamed the Mustang for the title of this year’s Pony Wars champion. The big question is, can the Camaro repeat next time?

Backed by some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket — including ARPBMR SuspensionCOMPCovercraftDiabloSportDyna-BattE3 Spark PlugsHolley Performance PartsMahleMickey ThompsonProCharger, QA1Royal PurpleSummit RacingTCIWeld Racing, and others — the inaugural season of Pony Wars would not be possible without them.

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About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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