Form and Function: Installing an Anderson Composites Hood on an S550

There are a lot of reasons one might decide to go the way of replacing their stock hood with an aftermarket variation. Whether it be for a change in appearance, weight reduction, or hood clearance, aftermarket body panels are a big deal in the Mustang world.

You might remember Project Boosted Coyote – a 2015 Mustang equipped with a Livernois-built engine topped with a Whipple Gen 5 3.0-liter Cobra Jet supercharger. Perviously, the Coyote sported a Whipple 2.3-liter supercharger, but with the new supercharger installed, owner Ivan encountered the issue of hood clearance utilizing the stock hood. This is a common concern for a number of Coyote applications, but it’s a pretty easy fix! He reached out to our friends at Anderson Composites and they hooked us up with a 3-inch carbon-fiber cowl hood, eliminating that issue.

“When it came to needing additional hood clearance and sourcing an aftermarket hood, we wanted to go with the best option available,” Ivan explained. “After some internet searching, it was clear that Anderson Composites is the leader in aftermarket hoods within the modern muscle car market. They have worked with Ford on projects like the Cobra Jet and the all-new 2020 GT500. If it’s good enough for Ford, we knew it would a perfect fit for our project.

“Remember the goal of this project is to make big power, will remaining functional and durable,” he continued. “We street drive this car a lot and wanted a product that would withstand a long life trouble-free. After speaking with Zach at SEMA and seeing the products in person (including the new GT500 on display with Anderson Composites’ carbon-fiber parts), we knew we made the right decision.”

This particular hood fits 2015-2017 Mustangs (EcoBoost, V6, and GT) and is super easy to install! It is composed of a carbon-fiber “skeleton” bonded to the underside of the carbon-fiber hood, allowing for an even further reduction of weight. It utilizes the OE hardware, but Anderson Composites also highly recommends the use of hood pins as an added safety measure (to be honest, any aftermarket hood should be paired with hood pins). For our particular application, we utilized AeroCatch latches from AC. Anderson Composites also tells us that heat shield is required, and that they do not recommend the use of gas shocks, dampers, or struts. The hood comes with a six-month appearance and finish warranty as an added bonus.

Anderson Composites’ Zach Bohn told us a bit more about our new hood. “Our carbon-fiber parts are manufactured by spraying a coat of marine grade resin with UV inhibitors on the mold,” he explained. “Sheets of carbon-fiber fabric are laid out across the mold, and then a final coat of resin is applied on the fabric before being placed inside a vacuum sealed bag to cure (provides an excellent fabric-to-resin ratio). Once cured, the part is removed from the mold, trimmed, and a final coat of gel coat with UV inhibitors is applied and polished to protect the surface and increase the high-luster finish.”

Because of this process, additional clearcoat is not required.

The Installation

As soon as our hood arrived, we opened up the box and checked the contents. Included was heat shield and warranty info. We checked the hood to make sure nothing was disturbed or damaged during shipping, but everything was just fine. Anderson did a great job packing our hood so it would arrive safely.

We made quick work of removing the factory hood by unbolting the four factory bolts on the underside of the hood. It helped to have extra hands to pick the hood up off the brackets and place it down on the floor without damaging it.

After making sure the stock hood was out of the way, the front latch sticker was transferred to the AC hood so that we will be able to utilize the factory hood latch.

“Next, we hung the Anderson hood on the car,” Ivan explained. “We were very surprised because this hood needed almost zero adjustment to get it centered. We bolted it down with the factory bolts and it was just about perfect!”

With the hood in place, the AeroCatch latches were to be installed next.

“Anderson Composites recommends the use of these latches with their hoods to make sure they are secure at speed,” Ivan explained.

The latches are lightweight, high-quality, and feel sturdy and durable – just what you want when you’re trusting them to keep your hood in place at high speeds.

“You want to make sure to mount the latch stud into something very sturdy, like the radiator support that doesn’t have any give,” Ivan told us. “We played around a bit by taping the latch to the hood to decide on the positioning of the latch. We wanted it to follow the lines of the hood and not look like something that didn’t belong. We wanted the end result to look great.”

With the hood in the ideal position, Ivan made quick work of drilling the holes in the radiator support before securing the latch stud. He utilized just a little bit of grease on the top of the stud to mark where it would make contact with the underside of the hood.

That mark would determine where we would drill the hood from the underside so that the stud could pass through the hood. With the stud through the hood, we drew the outline of the latch onto blue painter’s tape to create a template to cut, allowing us to mount the latch.

With the hole cut and smoothed, the latch assembly could be bolted together, following the included instructions.

Finally, the rubber insulators were installed onto the latch studs before being cut to size to ensure the right amount of pressure to secure the latch tightly.

We double checked the fit and function, and our installation was finished! As recommended by AC, we will be adding heat shield to the underside of the hood as well.

“The final result was excellent,” Ivan said. “Both the Anderson Composites hood and the AeroCatch latch kit looked awesome! We now have all the room we need for the Gen 5 Whipple supercharger and the hood looks great.”

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff got her start in automotive media while attending Rutgers. She worked for Roush Performance for a while, before eventually landing here at Power Automedia. Her Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox-body drag car is her prized possession.
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