Modern V6 Mustang Performance

Achieving great v6 Mustang performance these days, couldn't be easier.

And the difference in gas mileage, compared to a V8 powered car makes these modifications even more worthwhile.


While there has always been some interest in V6 performance for the Ford Mustang, the 1999 model year brought Mustang V6 performance interest to a new high.

The 1999 Mustang featured a revamped V6 engine that pumped out a very respectable 190 horsepower, bringing it much closer to the output of the previous year's V8 (225 horsepower). Although power increased in the V8 that year as well, a new respect for v6 Mustang Performance was rising.

The 2004 mustang v6 has been a popular engine to massage for more performance. And the 2005 new Mustang, with its cool retro styling has become a perennial favorite of V6 Mustang performance fans.

2011mustang v6 burnout















V6 Mustang Performance Potential

So what kind of power can you get out of the 3.8 liter V6 Mustang and what does it take to make it happen ? With the right modifications, you can realistically see your Mustang v6 performing reliably with 300-400 horsepower.

Now this all comes down to what you need and your budget. The great thing, is that you can work towards the top end of V6 Mustang Performance and horsepower, if that's your goal and add important parts along the way.

If you've read the other parts and performance parts sections, you'll know I'm all about Biggest Bang for the Buck. So the V6 performance section will be no different.

One last thing, before we get into it. Performance isn't just horsepower. It's acceleration, it's passing power and it's getting that power to the ground, so we're going to look at how to do all these things.

Cheap V6 Horsepower - Instantly !

If you're happy with the day to day performance of your Mustang, but would like to make an occasional run at your local drag strip, your biggest bang for the buck has to be nitrous oxide.

In some ways, nitrous works like an inexpensive supercharger. It cools the incoming air, making it more dense, adds oxygen and when combined with more fuel, makes instant horsepower.

If your last contact with a nitrous oxide system was over 10 years ago, you'll be amazed at the changes. In our example of a 2004 Mustang V6 you'd be intrigued with how computer engine management has been integrated to make the systems work even better.

While old systems had little more than a carb spacer with a jet, a wide open throttle switch and a bottle, today's systems integrate the throttle position sensor and engine management to allow you to set when the spray turns on and when it stops.

If you can't get good traction off the line now, why would you want another 50-100 horsepower kicking in and just spinning your tires (unless what you want is a smoky burnout) .

Now, you can set when it turns on and when it turns off. Good news if you have one of the rare V6 Mustangs with a stick.

For a few hundred bucks, there's nothing like it. And when it's not on, you retain all the benefits of mileage and stock driveability.

Building Budget Horsepower One Step At A Time

If you're on a budget, the following is the order I'd recommend adding new parts.

Cold Air Induction

While we expect that more horsepower reduces mileage, some modifications increase it. Cold air induction kits make modest increases in a V6 car (10-12 horsepower) but they also improve mpg and make your engine sound great! To really reap the benefits and improve driveability it's a good idea to custom tune your engine's computer.

A Predator tuner or similar reprogrammer can make this happen. Its also useful as you continue your modifications. Where necessary, it can adjust fuel flow and timing and optimize the engine for different octane levels in your fuel.

They are also necessary additions,if you plan on other more involved future modifications that allow the engine to breathe better. (Note: an improvement of 2-3 mpg is also common)

Full Dual exhaust

Another good addition, that increases horsepower and improves the sound of your Ford Mustang is modifying the exhaust system into a full dual exhaust. This reduces back pressure, increasing power and is a necessary addition later if you plan on major engine mods.

Several choices are possible. The least expensive alternative is picking up some Mustang GT takeoff pipes and mufflers. Other choices include, adding some cool Borla or Dynomax mufflers and pipes, or buying the mufflers and having your local muffler shop fabricate some 2.5 inch pipes back to your new mufflers.

Long Tube headers

If you're going to add a set of headers, the long tube headers seem to be the worthwhile choice. The stock pipes, from all reports point to more or less equal performance when compared to aftermarket "shorty" headers in newer V6 equipped Mustangs.

Underdrive Pulley kits

These have been around for a long time because they work. Under drive pulleys increase horsepower and torque and help gas mileage, by reducing the amount of effort the engine must use to spin accessories such as the alternator or power steering pump.

New gears and locking differential

A V6 Mustang responds extremely well to lower (higher ratio) gears. Popular choices include 3.73:1 up to 4.10:1 gear sets, which make the car bite better and accelerate more quickly.

A locking differential, or traction lock, allows both wheels to turn under power, effectively doubling the surface contact and traction under hard acceleration off the line. It's also a benefit in the winter when on slippery surfaces. (Note: there usually is a 1-3 mpg loss)

Mustangs from 1999 and newer, will benefit from computer tuning for the new gears, and to have the speedometer read properly. Earlier cars (1994-1998) require a new speedometer gear to be installed.

Shift Improver Kit

If you have an automatic, like 90% of Mustang v6 cars, a shift kit will make an impressive improvements. No more slushy shifts with these babies. Go with the top names in the business. They have decades of experience with improving automatic transmissions and ensuring that the mods are safe.

Short shifter kits

If you drive a manual transmission and particularly if you plan to race your car, a short throw kit will improve the way you shift and help make missed shifts a thing of the past.

Bigger Bucks - Bigger Gains

Performance intake

Just like the old days, a good flowing intake manifold/plenum speeds the air into the engine, which means more oxygen and higher horsepower. EFI or fuel injected cars intakes are tuned for maximum air flow, while early carburetor set ups try to maximize air and fuel.

The next two steps should probably be done at the same time for maximum benefit and time savings.

Install high flowing ported heads

The quicker you can get air into the engine on any given intake stroke, the more power you make. High flow heads increase flow and improve V6 Mustang performance. With them go a stronger valve train kit.

Install a high performance camshaft

A performance cam helps air and fuel get into the cylinders quicker and get spent exhaust gas out fast. For maximum V6 Mustang Performance both things have to happen.

High End Performance and Racing

As we all find out, you can get used to any level of performance, which sometimes means a need for more power. Or you decide that you want to get more serious in your racing at the track. If that sounds like you, its time for even more fun.

I wont get into too much detail here, as when you get to this point you probably already have a good idea what you want. But i will list some of the next popular steps.

1. Drag clutch or high stall torque converter and transmission cooler2. Aluminum Flywheel3. aluminum drive shaft4. Supercharger or turbocharger5. larger Mass airflow sensor (MAF) and larger throttle body6. A V6 Mustang Performance engine Stroker Kit and rebuild with high compression pistons and a stronger bottom end. (Ideal for supercharged or turbocharged engines but only with lower compression pistons)

No matter which combination you prefer, the great thing about improving your V6 Mustang performance, is having all the fun of the v8 and the gas mileage you'd expect from a V6.




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