Not long ago I wrote a story about a pony car tuned with a supercharger. The installation of the fan was done correctly. Then the owner of the car put on a set of great looking wheels wrapped in good looking but cheap rubber. On my first test ride, I couldn’t get that supercharged sweetness to the ground. It was the perfect drive to park in a Burger King parking lot on a Friday night. Spinning around on a Sunday ride, I shook my head that someone had spent five figures to get more power the right way, with a clean install, then wiped the gains so thoroughly that the stock engine probably would have overwhelmed the tires.
This got me thinking about the ways people screw up their quest for horsepower, either up front (by not insisting on a clean install and paying money for it) or at the back end (with additional purchases like cheap tires or cheap gas). So I called three tuners, one aimed at GM, one at Mopar, one at Ford, to find out what people need to know about how to get the best power for their goals and how to make sure they can get all that power. use. . The first interview in this three-part series was with Blake Leonard at Top Speed Cincy in Cincinnati, Ohio. The second is with Brandon Alsept at BA Motorsports in Milford, Ohio. In addition to building a non-stop procession of Ford-powered four-figure horsepower drag racers, he does the supercharger installations for the $45,000 Mustangs sold by Beechmont Ford Performance.
The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Are Mustang buyers usually out to bet huge numbers from the get-go?
I would say that over 75% of the people who come to see me are looking for large numbers. Most will come in with their dyno chart or dyno video and say, “I want that.”
What is the most important thing when choosing a tuner?
The most important thing is to find someone who has done your goal and listen to them. Find someone you like, communicate well with, and listen to what they tell you, and you’ll end up with a good product. Do your research. There are now reviews about everything everywhere, you can find people who have had good results.
If they found a tuner, what should they ask?
Reputable tuners will have no problem answering some small questions for you. If it’s ‘I’m looking at this, I want to get a tune from you, what would you recommend as far as fuel injectors or the fuel system?’, no one should have a problem spending a few minutes answering that You. Just try not to wear them out with a quote – ‘This person said this, this person said that.’ Right at the beginning, tell them, “Hey, this is what I want to do, what parts do you suggest?”
What are the mistakes people generally make?
The main thing I see is that people have these huge numbers in mind and they only want the end number, they skip some steps in the middle. People leave out the things that support your strength. They want to jump around or buy cheaper parts here and there rather than going to a shop that has a lot of experience with the car they are working on and listening to what [the shop says] and the brands they represent. Instead, it’s “Well, I know you wanted to use this part or brand, but I could find this part on eBay for a quarter of the price, so I guess I’ll give that a try.” Keep your ears open for what they’re trying to tell you – it’s not always an attempt to sell you. It’s more that stores don’t want people to go out and blow things up and have a bad experience. That’s not good for their reputation or their business.
What parts do people try to skip or skimp on?
Fuel systems seem to be the big ones. Let’s say you installed a supercharger on your 2018 Mustang and you want to upgrade to E85. Those fuel systems are going to cost a few thousand dollars to get good pieces in place — everything from the gas tank to the cylinder. I get it, it’s a very expensive hobby that we play here. But if you don’t have fuel, you can’t make electricity.
Say I have a 2018 Mustang, if I want a lot of power, what should I look at first?
Coyote engines are known for breaking the oil pump gears so we recommend doing the oil pump gears and crank gear before trying to put a load on it. From there the engine is pretty decent – we’ve put over 1,100 horsepower to the tire of cars and all they’ve got are oil pump gears and crank gear and supercharger. After that, we’ll usually point them to drivetrain parts – you’re going to load and break things, transmissions, clutches, countershafts, driveshafts. We want them to be aware that they are going in, budget permitting you should probably try this now. If not, be prepared.
How about doing a cold air intake and exhaust, how much power can I expect from that?
A cold air intake, exhaust and a tune? Thirty to 50 behind the wheel. But this gets to a point where it’s okay to talk someone’s plan out. If you have a goal where a part becomes invalid once you execute part B of your plan, we try to keep people waiting.
So someone says “I’ve got $3,000 now”, but they know they want to spend 15 grand over time, maybe they should skip some parts?
Precisely. We’ve taken a few customers off sale. For example, someone says, “I want long-tube headers on the car, but I want to put a turbo on it next year.” They are investing the money incorrectly as there are headers specifically for turbos. Save your money and you can get your turbo kit faster. If you know you’re going to delete A, B, and C, doing them isn’t enough. And to me, most of this stuff isn’t really a good investment.
With internal parts like cams, do you recommend doing other parts when you take the top apart because you’re already in it?
It’s a conversation to have when we’re doing things like the oil pump [to get the] minimum working time investment. We’ll make people aware, ‘If we go down that far, remember to do this while we’re here, because it’ll save you money.’
Have you seen someone spend the money to get a tune right and then ruin the tune with a separate, inferior part?
I don’t see much of it, but I see a lot of people getting lost. Some people think, ‘If it worked for one person, it will work for everyone’, so they think, ‘I can handle this part and this part and this part’, [the parts] don’t mix and you won’t get a good end product. It comes back to someone who has experience with what you want to do. That is usually worth its weight in gold, understanding how everything works together, not mixing and matching everything and then expecting it to work the way it would for someone who had done everything the right way.
So be prepared to invest time and money to get it right.
Precisely. When customers say, “I want more horsepower, but I don’t have a lot of money,” I try to be transparent and go through everything so that they either A, pull the trigger; B, save a little more money so that they can do this the right way; or C, go to someone else and come back to me in a year or so when everything is blown up.