Cobra Jet Intake Swap Pushes A 2018 Mustang Over 500 RWHP

Cobra Jet Intake Swap Pushes A 2018 Mustang Over 500 RWHP

As we know, the Gen 3 Coyote 5.0-liter powering the latest Mustang GT includes numerous improvements that push its output to 460 horsepower. Among those changes is an improved intake manifold and throttle body. The former has proven a potent upgrade for Gen 2 Coyotes, so is there more on the table with an intake swap on the latest Mustang?

We were pleased with the gains we found under the curve and at the peaks… — Matt Alderman, ID Motorsports

Clearly Ford found a bit of power on the forthcoming Bullitt with the Shelby GT350 induction, but Matt Alderman of ID Motorsports wanted to find out what Ford Performance Parts’ top-shelf Cobra Jet intake (PN M-9424-M50CJA) was worth on his 2018 Mustang GT project.

Matt Alderman, of ID Motorsports, tested a Ford Performance Parts Cobra Jet intake manifold on his bolt-on, E85-fueled 2018 Mustang GT with solid results. (Photo Credit: Matt Alderman/ID Motorsports)

“Since the introduction of the Cobra Jet intake, it was quickly adapted to street-driven Coyotes. We have a lot of success over the years and refined driveability to be stock quality. With the third generation of Coyote having an updated stock intake manifold, we were curious what it would take to put the Cobra Jet on and start testing,” Matt explained.

Two parts facilitating this swap were UPR Products Pro Series Urethane Adjustable Engine Mounts, which allowed lowering the engine, and SCT Performance’s BDX handheld tuner, which obviously flashed the factory PCM with ID Motorsports’ custom calibration.

That required lowering the engine with UPR Products engine mounts, which is common on the earlier Coyote Mustangs. However, on this car, the composite oil pan will hit the steering rack if you go too low. Because the Gen 3 5.0 couldn’t drop as low, Matt also had to dimple the hood brace for additional clearance.

“When looking at the stock manifold it would appear to be a modified GT350 manifold, so we were not expecting huge gains as on previous years,” Matt said. “There are some gains in the upper-RPM range. We expect even more with a larger throttle body. For our base we used a stock, 60mm twin-blade. I believe with the larger throttle body the gains will justify the price tag.”

Doing so presented some technological challenges as well, since the latest Powertrain Control Module utilizes the Single Edge Nibble Transmission throttle body protocol. As such, it won’t actuate the electronics found in the earlier throttle bodies, like the oval units employed by the CJ intake.

ID Motorsports 2018 Mustang Mods

• E85 fuel

• Ford Performance Parts Cobra Jet intake manifold

• ID Motorsports 2018 5.0 Mustang custom tune

• REV-X Performance Programmer, Powered by SCT

• ID Motorsports converter box

• Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers

• Revolution Automotive cold-air intake

• Shelby GT500 60mm twin-blade throttle body

• Solo Exhaust Street Race cat-back

• UPR Products lowered engine mounts

“Our first hurdle was the new throttle body electronics. It is a completely digital signal now with such tight tolerances. Once we got past that, it was time to start tuning. We were pleased with the gains we found under the curve and at the peaks. Even on E85 the stock fuel system keeps up with the added airflow the Cobra Jet intake moves,” Matt said.

Bridging the older throttle body with the new electronics using a converter cleared the way for Matt to put his vaunted tuning experience to good use. He was calibrating these cars right away when they were new, so he was able to apply that knowledge to the swap using SCT Performance’s Advantage software and BDX handheld tuner.

“When calibrating for the Cobra Jet there are changes to be made outside of the just plugging in the converter box. Most of them are from the 2015-2017 to make the throttle body work properly. It is just as important for it to drive well as it is to make power,” Matt said. “All the parameters were there in the SCT tuning software to make it work, and we were able to get all the data we needed with the Livelink datalogging software. Anything that needed adding, SCT rolled out quickly.”


New-Look Cobra Jet

While Matt used the original Cobra Jet manifold design, Ford Performance Parts recently tweaked the intake for the modern era. It still requires a lowered engine or a taller hood, but you can tell the difference between the two based on the badging, as the current model wears the of-the-times Ford Performance badge rather than the passé, molded-in Ford Racing logo.

The latest manifold (PN M-9424-M50CJA) is still meant for use with a factory Shelby GT500 throttle body (PN M-9926-MSVT), as tested here, or the larger Cobra Jet offerings from FPP, which include the dual 65mm unit (PN M-9926-CJ65) and larger oval-bore Super Cobra Jet unit (PN M-9926-SCJ). Either of the latter units should yield even more performance than the factory twin 60mm used in this testing.

With the proper electronic tools in hand, Matt put his tuning acumen to use dialing in the air/fuel, cam timing, ignition timing, and more to maximize his bolt-on, corn-fed Cobra Jet combo (see sidebar for details) for power and driveability.

“It took about a day to get everything where we wanted it. Thanks to our previous experience with the twin-blade on the ’15-’17 cars this gave us an edge on getting the ’18 going a little faster,” Matt added. “I believe if the larger throttle body can net us some more up-top ponies, then it will be well worth it. As far as hindering performance down low under the curve, we have not seen anything at the track to show it makes the car slower.”

Matt dialed in the combo and did his before and after testing on ID’s in-house Mustang Dyno (left). As you can see, the CJ gives up a bit of power and some torque under the curve, but it storms out the back door. It pulls strong to 7,500 RPM, while the stock intake runs out of steam around 6,500 RPM. To see how the final results translated on a Dynojet, Matt headed to Mastiff Performance. There it put down 507.10 horsepower and 441.99 lb-ft of torque at the wheels on the inertia dyno.

Though the CJ does tend to bias its performance to the top of the tach, Matt says it’s actually a completely streetable combo.

“We actually got the car done the day before we left for NMRA in Bradenton,” Matt added. “We drove the car across the state and back with no issues. Without knowing, you would think it was a stock manifold.”

Next up, Matt will be trying out a larger throttle body, which should unlock even more power from this free-breathing Gen 3 Coyote, but suffice it to say that if you want to uncork your 2018 Mustang’s inlet for high-RPM fun, the Cobra Jet intake is a solid upgrade, which ID now offers as part of a handy upgrade package (PN IDM-18GT.CJ.Kit; $2,495).

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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