Not long ago, I wrote a the story of a carriage tuned with a supercharger. The blower installation was done properly. Then the owner of the car bolted on to a set of great looking wheels covered in cheap but good looking rubber. On my first test drive, I couldn’t fathom any of the supercharged sweetness. It was the perfect ride to park in the Burger King parking lot on a Friday night. I tried during a drive on Sunday, shook my head that someone put in five figures to get the extra power the right way, with a clean install, then wiped the gains to the point where the engine availability may have overwhelmed the tyres.
This got me thinking about the ways people screw up their quest to find horsepower, either at the front end (by not asking for a clean install and paying for it) or at the back end (with additional purchases). such as cheap tires or cheap gasoline). So I called three tuners, one focused on GM, one on Mopar, one on Ford, to learn what everyone should know about how to get the best power for their goals and how to make sure they can use all of it. The first interview in this three-part series was with Blake Leonard at Top Speed Cincy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Monday was with Brandon Alsept at BA Motorsports in Milford, Ohio. In addition to relentlessly building Ford-powered drag racers with four-figure horsepower, he also installed superchargers for $45,000 worth of Mustangs sold by Beechmont Ford Performance.
Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
How often are Mustang buyers looking to order a large number in the first place?
I can say that more than 75% of the people who come to see me are after big numbers. Most will come up with their dyno chart or dyno video and say, “I want that.”
What is the most important part about choosing a tuner?
The most important thing is to find someone who has accomplished your end goal and listen to them. Find someone you like, you communicate well and listen to what they have to say to you, and in the end you will have a good product. Do your research. There are reviews everywhere on everything, you can find people who have had good results.
Once they’ve found a tuner, what should they ask?
Reputable tuners should have no problem answering a few minor questions for you. If it was, ‘I’m watching this, I’d love to hear from you guys, what would you suggest regarding the fuel injectors or the fuel system?’, No one has a problem spending a few. minutes to answer that for you. Just try not to wear them down in a single quote – ‘This person says this, this person says that.’ Tell them directly from the start, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do, what parts do you recommend?’
What are the common mistakes people make?
The biggest thing I see is that people are always thinking of these huge numbers and they just want the final number, they skip some steps in between. People neglect to deal with things that support your strength. They want to jump around or buy cheaper parts here instead of going to a shop that has a lot of experience with the car they are making and listen to what [the shop says] and the brands they recommend. Instead, it’s “Well, I know you want to use this part or this brand, but I could find this part on eBay for a quarter of the price so I thought I’d give it a try.” Pay close attention to what they’re trying to tell you – you’re not always trying to sell you. More than that, stores don’t want to see people leave and blow up stuff and have a bad experience. It’s not good for their reputation or business.
What parts do people try to skip or skip?
The fuel system seems to be one of the big ones. Let’s say you order a turbocharger in your 2018 Mustang and you want to switch to E85. Those fuel systems would have to run several thousand dollars to get the good stuff in place – everything from the gas tank to the cylinders. I get it, it’s a very expensive hobby that we play here. But if you don’t have fuel, you can’t make energy.
Let’s say I have a stock 2018 Mustang, if I want great power, what should I consider first?
Coyote engines are known for breaking oil pump gears, so we recommend getting the oil pump gears and sprockets spinning before we start trying to tax it. From there, the engine was fine – we made over 1,100 hp on the car tires and all they had was the oil pump gears, the sprockets and the turbocharger. Then we usually direct them towards the steering components – you’ll start to stress and break stuff, gearboxes, clutches, half-axles, drive shafts. We want them to be aware of participating, if your budget allows then you should probably try to do this now. If not, then be prepared.
What about cold air intake and exhaust, how much power can I expect from that?
A cold air intake, exhaust and a regulator? Thirty to 50 at the wheel. But this goes to the extent that it is good to speak out one’s plan. If you’ve got a goal that’s partially going to be nullified by the time you do Part B of your plan, we try to keep people waiting.
So someone says, “I have $3,000 right now,” but they know they want to spend $15k, maybe they should skip some parts?
Correct. We talked to a few customers who didn’t make a sale. For example, someone might say, “I want a long hose in my car, but I want a turbo next year.” They are investing the wrong amount of money, because there are turbo-specific titles. Save your money and you can get your turbocharger sooner. When you know you’ll do A, B, and C, it’s not a good enough investment to do them. And for me, most of these aren’t really a good investment.
With internals like cams, do you suggest doing other parts after you take the top off since you’re already in there?
It’s a conversation when we’re doing things like pumping oil [to get the] Minimum labor time investment. We’re going to let people know, ‘If we’re going too far, you should think about doing this while we’re here because it’ll save you money.’
Have you ever seen someone spend money getting a tune done the right way and then ruin it with discrete, shoddy composition?
I don’t see a lot of that, but I do see a lot of people end up being lost. Some people think “If it works for one person, it will work for everyone”, so they think “I can put this department in, this department and this department on” , afterward [the parts] don’t mix and you won’t make a good end product. It comes down to someone who has experience with what you want to do. That is often worth it in gold, understanding how things work together, not having to mix and match things and then expect it to run like it did with someone who did everything the right way.
So be ready to invest time and money to get it right.
Correct. When a customer says ‘I want more horsepower but I don’t have much money’, I try to be transparent and work it all out so that they A, pull the trigger; B, save a little extra money so they can do this the right way; or C, go to someone else and then come back to me in a year or so when things blow up.