The new Camaro SS and Mustang GT get these BBK goodies to see what they do to performance.
Which is the better car, a new Mustang GT or a new Camaro SS? Post that question online and you’ll get maybe five or six reasoned, impartial comments, and 700,000 passion-fueled, argumentative, “Mustangs SUCK!” or “Camaros are JUNK!” responses. Few cars inspire the passion that these two do, and for good reason; they’re both really good, fast cars.
While we’re not going to give our opinion on which one we like better, what we can do is take one of each, give them the same bolt-on parts, and see which one best responds to aftermarket performance parts. We took a 2011 GT and a ’12 Camaro SS to BBK Performance in Temecula, CA and threw the company’s most popular bolt-ons at them (a cold air intake, a throttle body, and a full exhaust with long-tube headers), and ran them on the dyno after each step. To help us out with the test, we enlisted Jessica Barton to keep the testing fair. Who came out on top? Read on and find out.
Camaro versus Mustang
Which one would you rather have, a new Camaro SS or a Mustang GT? The Camaro’s LS3 engine makes more power according to Chevrolet, with 425 hp compared to the 5.0 Mustang’s 412 hp, but the chassis dyno says otherwise. How do they each respond to the same bolt-ons? As it turns out, about the same.
Baseline Dyno Runs
The brothers from BBK, Ken and Brian Murphy, were on hand representing their favorite muscle cars in this battle for horsepower between Detroit’s biggest. “You know, bigger is always better, Ken,” said Camaro fan Brian Murphy. “I’d hate to disagree, but that more advanced dual overhead cam Mustang is going to shut it down,” exclaimed Mustang fan Ken Murphy. As Jessica Barton tried to keep the peace, we first moved into getting before dyno numbers.
The first thing we did was strap both of the cars in stock form onto the chassis dyno rollers to get baseline power numbers, and you might be surprised at which one came out on top. The Camaro’s 426hp factory rating compares to the 5.0 Mustang’s 412 hp, which might have you assuming the Camaro put down superior numbers on our chassis dyno. But most Mustang fans know that Ford underrated the 5.0 when they crammed it between the shock towers of the Mustang in 2011, and that was proven by our test. The baseline dyno run for the 5.0 was 370.61 rwhp and 340.80 rwtq, while the Camaro made 356.88 and 360.53, respectively. So, the 5.0 made the most horsepower to the wheels, and the SS made more torque. Pick your winner: do you prefer torque or horsepower?
Mustang – 370.61 rwhp and 340.80 rwtq
Camaro – 356.88 rwhp and 360.53 rwtq
Cold Air Intake Installation
The first modification we did to both of the cars is the most common bolt-on that the average person does first: a cold air intake (CAI). With less restriction in the intake tubing and a straighter shot at clean air than the stock setup, BBK’s cold air intake is a quick bolt-on for either car. The installation of the CAI on both vehicles takes virtually no time at all, and involves the same basic steps between both vehicles. BBK markets their CAI as a “quick and easy installation that needs no tune,” meaning it’s a true bolt-on that doesn’t require you to find a tuner to flash the factory computer. As we write this, the BBK CAI for both cars is only available in chrome, but they should have them available in a new Blackout Series sometime in the first quarter of 2012.
The BBK cold air kit replaces the factory air filter housing and intake tube, and is simple to install. On the Mustang, these two rubber grommets must be removed from the bottom of the factory air box and installed on the BBK air filter housing.
Again, the installation process is very similar on both the Camaro and the Mustang. On both cars, you need to remove the factory plastic decorative engine covers, if equipped, to gain access to the throttle body. Then it’s a matter of removing the factory filter housing, filter, and intake tube, and reinstalling the BBK parts. In both cases, you’ll need to reinstall the factory mass air flow sensor into the BBK tubing, as well as any wiring connections involved. In the case of the Mustang, the BBK CAI is made for both manual and automatic transmission cars; the only difference is that the kit for the automatic cars has an extra hose that runs to the intake pipe. Since our 5.0 is a stick, we plugged that extra nipple on the intake pipe with a supplied yellow cap. Be sure you don’t miss that step or you could have problems with driveability. Both kits come with new fasteners where needed, and full instructions to show you the way.
The conical filter slips onto the BBK tube and attaches with the supplied clamp.
Camaro Cold-Air Intake PN #1771, Mustang PN #1768
Washable cotton element filter
Integrated heat shield blocks out engine heat
Chrome plated intake tube does not require a tune
Mustang intake includes integrated velocity stack
With our tune-free BBK cold air kits installed on the otherwise stone-stock cars we put them back on the dyno to see what happened to the power curves. The 5.0 put down 380.5 rwhp and 358.42 rwtq, a gain of about 10 and about 18, respectively. The SS now made 368.74 rwhp and 365.94 rwtq, for gains of 11 and 6, respectively. So, the Camaro and Mustang responded basically the same on the horsepower front, but the Mustang saw three times as much of a torque gain as the Camaro, narrowing the torque difference a bit. The Mustang is still ahead of the SS in horsepower at the wheels and the SS still leads in torque, so there is still no clear winner at this point of the BBK dyno battle.
(Left) The Mustang takes an early lead in total numbers and torque, while the Camaro has the biggest gains overall on horsepower
Stock: 356.88 rwhp and 360.53 rwtq With BBK CAI: 368.74 rwhp and 365.94 rwtq Gain: 11.86 rwhp and 5.41 rwtq
Stock: 370.61 rwhp and 340.80 rwtq With BBK CAI: 380.5 rwhp and 358.42 rwtq Gain: 9.89 rwhp and 17.62 rwtq
BBK Throttle Body
Leaving the CAIs in place, the next parts we installed were the BBK throttle bodies on both cars. Both are CNC-machined aluminum castings. The Mustang uses an 85mm Power Plus throttle body that BBK says increases air flow into the 5.0 engine by 33 percent, and uses OE drive-by-wire electronics already installed for a plug-and-play installation. The Camaro SS throttle body is a Power Plus 95mm unit, but since it’s still a prototype part, BBK wasn’t too willing to give us many details on it.
Replacing the throttle body on both cars is really a remove-and-replace affair, requiring you to remove the air intake tubing from the throttle bodies, unplugging their electrical connectors and cables, removing the bolts holding the throttle body to the intake, and removing the body. Installation is the reverse. It’s about as easy as it gets. The Camaro part is only slightly more difficult in that you must reuse the factory drive motor on the throttle body.
So what did the BBK Power Plus throttle bodies do to the rear-wheel power of each car? The Mustang gained another 2 rwhp and just over 6 rwtq, while the Camaro saw another 10 rwhp and 9 rwtq. These numbers are the gains on top of the power with the CAI installed. So far, both cars have responded positively to these affordable, bolt-on parts.
The Camaro SS (left) and Mustang GT (right) throttle bodies are very easy to install.
(Left) The Camaro continues with the biggest horsepower gains as well as peak torque numbers, while the Mustang leads in torque gains and peak horsepower.
Stock: 356.88 rwhp and 360.53 rwtq With BBK CAI and Power Plus throttle body: 378.91 rwhp and 374.81 rwtq Gain with throttle body: 10.17 rwhp and 8.87 rwtq Total Gain: 22.03 rwhp and 14.28 rwtq
Stock: 370.61 rwhp and 340.80 rwtq With CAI and BBK Power Plus throttle body: 381.49 rwhp and 364.78 rwtq Gain with throttle body: 1.59 rwhp and 6.36 rwtq Total Gain: 10.88 rwhp and 23.98 rwtq
BBK Header, X-pipe, and Axle-Back Install
With the easy intake air flow bolt-ons done, we turned our attention to the other side of the engine, the exhaust. BBK offers full exhaust systems for both the 5.0 Mustang and the LS3 Camaro (and also the L99-equipped automatic-transmission cars), from the cylinder heads all the way to the exhaust tips. In this test, we went whole-hog and installed the company’s long-tube headers, off-road X-pipe, and axle-back muffler setup on each car. If you live in California, you’ll have to use shorty headers, since the long-tubes eliminate the catalytic converters, something that California laws (and those of several other states) prohibit. But we realize that a big portion of our audience does not live in The People’s Republic of California, and long-tubes make more power, so that’s what we used.
Installing the headers and X-pipe on both cars was the most time consuming part of the project so far, but also provided the most power of all the bolt-ons.
The BBK headers for both cars have equal-length 1 3/4-inch primary tubes and when paired with the off-road (meaning, no cats) X-pipe, that means there’s very little restriction to exhaust flow, which means more power. About their headers, BBK’s Brian Murphy says, “Our headers for both the Mustang and the Camaro SS come in three finishes—stainless steel, ceramic-coated, and chrome. The headers have 3/8-inch-thick flanges and come with the gaskets and the hardware needed for installation. The tubes are mandrel bent and the welds are made with precision robots for the best quality possible.”
Offered in 304 stainless, silver ceramic, and polished silver ceramic
1-3/4 primaries to 3-inch collector (Camar0) and 2-3/4 collector (Mustang)
Options for catalytic converters or off road straight pipes
Mandrel bent and machine welded
Removing the stock exhaust manifolds are similar for both the Camaro and Mustang. Removing the engine mount and steering shaft might not be required to remove the shorties, but it really helps out for installing the long tubes. Also, don't forget to reinstall your O2 sensors into the new headers.
BBK's Vari-Tune exhaust is still under development but will be released soon!
Installing the headers was by far the most time-consuming step of our bolt-on upgrades and took us a good five hours to complete per car. The result after the exhaust work was done on both cars still left us with a split decision on which car made the best gains.
The ’11 Mustang GT now put down 406 rwhp and 378 rwtq with all three mods in place, while the SS Camaro threw 401 rwhp and 404 rwtq at the rollers. The Mustang won the horsepower war by 5 rwhp and the SS won the torque war with 26 rwtq over the Mustang.
While the Mustang won in overall peak horsepower, the Camaro swept the competition in peak torque as well as total gains.
Stock: 356.88 rwhp and 360.53 rwtq With CAI, throttle body, full exhaust: 400.64 rwhp and 404.35 rwtq Gain with full exhaust: 21.73 rwhp and 29.54 rwtq Total Gain: 43.76 rwhp and 43.82 rwtq
Stock: 370.61 rwhp and 340.80 rwtq With CAI, throttle body, full exhaust: 406.15 rwhp and 378.45 rwtq Gain with full exhaust: 24.66 rwhp and 13.67 rwtq Total Gain: 35.54 rwhp and 37.65 rwtq
The moral of the story is that the cars each have an advantage in stock form, with the Mustang winning the horsepower war and the Camaro taking the win when it comes to torque. That’s still a bit surprising, since the Camaro’s LS3 has more displacement by a fairly significant margin, more than 70 cubic-inches, than the 5.0 in the Mustang. When Jessica drove both cars before and after the installation, she said, “There is definitely a noticeable gain in performance between the two vehicles. While the Mustang feels like it pulls harder in the higher RPMs, the Camaro feels like it has more low RPM grunt.” After our three rounds of bolt-ons, both cars responded in similar fashion, with the Camaro seeing the most gains. How does that translate into street performance? The real winner will have to be decided at the track.