• Part 1 - Header & Exhaust Install
• Part 2 - Supercharger Install
• Part 3 - Lowering Kit Install
• Part 4 - Wheel & Tire Install
• Part 5 - Big Brake Install
• Part 6 - Electric Fan Install

We are excited to introduce Project Dark Horse, an '04 F-150 standard cab, shortbed with a 5.4L V-8 and automatic. Fans of Blue Oval trucks have been asking for more Ford presence in the pages of Sport Truck, so here it is, and it's going to be fantastic. To launch the project and give you an idea of what the finished truck will look like, here's an illustration by Jimmy Smith of Jimmy's Hot Rod Design in Glendale, Arizona. Jimmy's creative concepts appear regularly in Rod & Custom, Street Rodder, Custom Rodder, Lowrider, and Classic Trucks.

Jimmy is not only a talented artist, but he's a truck guy, too. He's building a slammed '64 Ford pickup for himself. "My love for custom cars and trucks cannot be founded on any one major influence," says Jimmy. "While I do favor certain eras, ignoring the others is not an option. I dig it all and try to mix clean style into whatever I do."

If you'd like to see more of Jimmy's work or have him create a concept illustration for your next project, go to www.jimmyshotroddesign.com, or call (602) 330-4318. In the meantime, here's a brief outline of what's going into Project Dark Horse. It's going to be a breed apart. So, if you are interested, then turn the page and check out Dark Horse's first performance modification: JBA Headers and Bassani exhaust system.

Mechanical:
JBA headers, a Bassani exhaust, a Powerdyne centrifugal supercharger, new fuel injectors, a cold-air intake, and Predator computer reprogramming.

Stance:
McGaughy's static drop kit, an AIM air-ride kit, high-performance shocks, a rear stabilizer, performance brakes/vented rotors, 23-inch Tezzen alloy wheels, and Nitto 295/30R23 tires.

Exterior:
Auto Air Colors' black with two pearl white racing stripes and rocker panel graphics like the Ford GT 500, a Street Scene hood, a front bumper cover, side skirts, a steel rear roll pan (with two round taillights), a front cowl cover and sport mirrors with turn indicators, a black horizontal billet grille, shaved insignias, door handles and taillights, reverse tailgate handle, smoothed tailgate, antenna and third brake light in cab removed, TaleGator power tailgate, a Gaylord X-2000 Series lid, and a Clifford remote-start system with door-popper.

Interior:
Center console from an '04 Expedition, heated power seat bases, black leather seats, a black wood steering wheel, a brushed silver stainless steel dash kit, a Sony audio/video system, and a GPS system.

To kick off Project Dark Horse, our '04 Ford F-150, we'll show you how we squeezed 30 more horsepower out of its 5.4L 3V Triton V-8 with a simple bolt-on header and exhaust installation. Since the truck is still under warranty, it had to be a street-legal system, so we decided to work with the performance pros at JBA Headers and Bassani. First, we contacted Mark Mathews at JBA, who set us up with Ed Howard at the JBA Performance Center in San Diego. The center is a full-service retail parts and installation facility with a Dynomax chassis dyno that does everything from simple bolt-ons to race performance work.

Mark set us up with a set of stainless steel Cat4ward headers (PN 1676S) with the optional high-temp JBA titanium ceramic coating. Like all JBA products, the headers are smog-legal in all 50 states and are covered by JBA's limited lifetime warranty. They feature patented technology like JBA Firecone merge collectors, 1 1/2-inch mandrel-bent 409 stainless steel primary tubes, JBA sealing domes, and 3/8-inch-thick mandrel-bent flanges.

The headers are direct bolt-ons with no welding or modification required; however, for this application, we recommend using a lift (or at least, large-base jackstands and a floor jack), and plan on spending a full day doing the swap. It took Ed six hours. Next, we visited Bassani Xhaust in Anaheim, California, for one of its Lightning-style after-cat exhaust systems. However, after Ara Trujillo removed the giant OE muffler to install the exhaust, he found it was too long for our standard cab shortbed, so he and Darryl Bassani himself prototyped a new system on our truck. By the time you read this, they'll have a part number for that system, too.

The system includes a twin-outlet, stainless steel muffler with polished tips, aluminized stainless steel connector pipes, gasketless ball and socket connections, stainless steel band clamps, new hangers, and detailed instructions. The exhaust is extremely easy to install, and of course, it's also legal in all 50 states, will not affect factory warranty or emissions standards, and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. All that remained was to see what kind of performance gain we got by doing a dyno run at Superior Automotive in Anaheim. However, there was a minor glitch. The factory speed limiter prevented us from making a full powerband run; it automatically shut the engine down at about 90 mph.

The cure was simple. Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning & Performance came in and changed the speed limiter to 120 mph with a U7151 Predator tuning flash programmer. (See sidebar.)

With that problem fixed, Joe Jill, Jr. ran the truck again and came up with some very impressive numbers. The truck had gone from a baseline of 206.1 hp and 274.7 lb-ft of torque to 235.7 hp and 300.1 lb-ft of torque, substantially increasing power for passing and towing. Follow the photos to see how simple it is to put 30 more ponies to the pavement with a bolt-on exhaust system.

Predator Fixes Speed Limiter Problem

Today's computer-controlled engines have a built-in speed limiter, which is normally a good thing. It keeps you from going too fast in any one gear and blowing your engine. In this case, it also prevented us from getting full powerband dyno runs on our F-150-necessary to determine what we gained from installing the headers and exhaust. However, it was easy for Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning & Performance to overcome that problem by using the Predator plug-in tuner from DiabloSport to increase the limiter speed.

The Predator is a full-featured flash programmer with adjustable parameters that allow the user to custom-tune depending on modifications done to the vehicle. Because it allows for timing and fuel adjustments, the user can optimize the tune for a specific vehicle using a dyno with proper air/fuel monitoring and the Predator's live data feature to monitor timing and other vital parameters. However, for this article, we only used it to increase the speed limit for our Third gear dyno pulls.

We'll give you more complete information on the Predator in another issue, when we go back on the dyno and have Shawn use it to tune the Ford for an even greater power gain.

SOURCE
JBA Performance Exhaust
www.jbaheaders.com
JBA Performance Center
5135 Convoy St.
San Diego
CA  92111
8-88/-JBA-5570
www.jbaracing.com
SoCal Tuning & Performance
Dept 5.0
www.socaltuning.com
Superior Automotive Engineering
www.superiorautomotive.com
Bassani Exhaust
2900 E. LaJolla
Anaheim
CA  92806
714-630-1821
www.bassani.com
DiabloSport
1865 SW 4th Ave., Ste. D2
Delray Beach
FL  33444
561-908-0040
www.diablosport.com
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