In racing circles, turbochargers are often referred to as “snails” due to the spiral shape of the compressor and turbine housings. It’s an ironic bit of slang, as there are few upgrades capable of making as much horsepower as a quality turbocharger system. John Urist, five time NMRA Super Street Outlaw Class Champion and owner of Hellion Power Systems, can attest to just how quick a good snail can be. We got our hands on one of his complete, fully-engineered single-turbo systems and installed it on a 2010 Mustang. The results were impressive to say the least.
Turbo Systems Bred from Racing and Experience
Urist started racing more than a decade ago on a whim, when he took his 351W-powered Mustang to a Fun Ford Weekend event and managed to get all the way to the final round. He dabbled in nitrous systems for a while before a massive engine explosion (where his nickname “The Fireball” was born) caused him to rethink his choice of forced induction. Turning instead to turbocharging, Urist soon teamed up with Alan Dudley and Wayne Young to produce a 1,600 horsepower 358 cubic inch engine. He met with such success on the dragstrip that other racers started asking him for parts and advice, not just for their race cars, but for their street cars as well. That was when the light bulb turned on in Urist’s mind.
“The turbocharger market was very unpredictable at the time,” says Urist. “There was no such thing as a modular turbocharger kit. If you wanted a turbo, there was often a lot of cutting and welding involved and it could get very complicated very quickly.” Urist, who has a degree in Management from the University of New Mexico, realized there was an untapped market clamoring for easy-to-install turbocharger systems. Thus, Hellion Power Systems was born.
“The great thing about turbochargers is that they almost always make more power than you need,” Urist explains. “Plus, if you have a boost controller, you can turn the boost up or down without ever leaving the driver’s seat. It makes the car much more drivable on the street.” Turbocharging has become increasingly popular in the past decade, both on the strip and the street; many Pro Touring enthusiasts and hot rodders have applied turbos to their vehicles. Factory turbocharged cars have made a comeback as well, with Ford taking a big leap and producing a whole line of EcoBoost engines with twin turbos to deliver big-displacement horsepower with improved fuel economy and emissions.
Mustangs, Modular Design, And More
Hellion has always been deeply involved with Ford and Mustangs in general. Their most popular kits by far are for the Blue Oval’s 1979-2010 Mustang, and they offer both single turbo and twin turbo kits. They also offer twin turbo kits for Chrysler’s SRT8 models (Charger, Challenger, and 300), as well as the 99-04 Lightning. “Those guys take their trucks and racing very seriously,” says Urist. Hellion is also working on a turbo kit for the 2010 Camaro that should be “available soon,” as they say.
Hellion’s off-the-shelf systems make installation easy, which is why they have proven so popular. The modular design allows the owner to upgrade their turbocharger down the road without having to replace all the intake and exhaust plumbing involved with a turbo system. “We work with Bassani exhaust to produce the piping, and every pipe is hand welded and CNC bent to ensure we make the same part every time,” says Urist. Hellion sources their turbos from respected manufacturer Turbonetics, and offers a wide array of turbo systems from mild to wild. These systems are incredibly easy to install, and even an average mechanic can do an entire turbo system in a weekend.
“We can give you everything you need to turbocharge your car at a very competitive and affordable price,” says Urist. That means the turbocharger, stainless steel piping, intercooler, bypass valve, wastegate, tubing, and all the nuts and bolts. And since the exhaust system is an integral part of any turbocharger system, Hellion’s kits come with that too. “What separates us from a lot of supercharger systems is that to see the advertised power, you often have to invest in headers and an exhaust system on top of the supercharger,” Urist points out. “But not with our turbo systems. If you so desire, we can sell you a system that will plug into the stock exhaust, and we can sell you it with or without a tune.”
Hellion turbo kits come with everything you need to install a turbo on your Mustang, eliminating the need to run out to the parts store or scour catalogs for other pieces.
Highlights of the Single Turbo Kit for the ’05-’10 Mustang GT:
- (1) Turbonetics 61mm Turbo
- (1) Hellion 24x6x3 Intercooler
- (1) Wastegate
- (1) Set of 39lb Injectors
- (1) UPR Air Filter
- (1) Bypass Valve
- (2) Sway Bar Relocation Brackets
- (1) 10 ft. Heat Wrap Roll
- (1) Downpipe
- (1) Turbo Inlet
- (1) Rearward Turbo Crossover
- (1) 4″ Turbo Inlet Pipe
“We should have the first 2011 5.0 Mustang in New Mexico,” says Urist. And while it is impossible to know exactly how much horsepower the new Ford 5.0 engine (factory rated at 412 crank horsepower) will make under boost until they actually have a turbo system hooked up to it, Urist says it should make 650 horsepower easily. But beyond the big V8’s, Hellion is also considering several other directions since a turbocharger system can turn just about any car into an absolute street terror.
The demand for turbo kits has been so strong that Hellion is considering branching out into other markets, like smaller-displacement late model cars and classics. “The new V6 engines make almost as much horsepower as the old V8’s, so we are definitely looking into the V6 stuff,” says Urist. However, there are no firm plans as of yet. “We’ve also talked about making a universal turbo kit for classic cars, and we should have one out by the end of the year.”
So just how much power can you expect to make from a Hellion turbocharger system? To find out, we installed one on our 2010 Mustang GT. The results were impressive, the frustration minimal, and it took less than a day to complete.
Installing A Hellion Turbo System On A 2010 Mustang GT
Due to modular, off-the-shelf nature of Hellion turbo kits and the illustrated step-by-step instruction manual, installing one on your car is a snap that doesn’t require any special tools or training. The crew at Motiva Motorsports installed the kit for us, and after the battery was disconnected and the coolant drained and saved, the stock airbox and inlet hoses, overflow reservoir, and upper radiator hose were pulled to make room to work.
Next, the crew punched a hole in the oil pan for the turbo oil return line. This is perhaps the most intimidating part of the installation, but Hellion even provides the punch and tap, making it a straightforward task. With the return fitting threaded in the tapped hole, one of the hardest parts of the installation was complete.
After removing the oil pressure sensor on the driver’s side, they installed the T-fitting to supply the turbo with oil, then reinstalled the sender unit. In order to fit the turbo piping, the sway bar needed to be relocated to the lower radiator crossmember, using mounts supplied by Hellion. Leaving these loose for the time being made installing the piping easier down the road.
To properly install the turbo piping, the factory exhaust has to be cut, so after carefully measuring per the Hellion instructions, they made the cuts, removed the H-pipe behind the cat, and deburred the tubing.
Hellion supplies clamps to join the exhaust, so no welding was required. With everything connected under the car in approximately the right position, the clamps were snugged down but left loose enough to allow the pipes to be moved around a bit to maneuver everything into the final position. Next, they moved on to the turbo, a good sized 61mm piece from Turbonetics.
Since the oil-feed line needs to face up, the turbocharger itself needed to be clocked (rotated) for proper fitment. This was done by loosening the bolts on the compressor and turbine. The turbo required a few more assembly steps, like installing the oil drain flange and 90-degree vacuum fitting. After fitting the silicone hose over the compressor discharge, they bolted the appropriate pipe to the turbocharger and then set it aside.
Next, they assembled the oil return line and slipped another pipe in between the K-member and radiator shroud to ease installation of the intercooler piping. Loosening the AC line retainer made this process much easier.
After all this was done, they were able to set the turbo assembly into the correct position in the engine bay without bolting it up. With the turbo roughly in place, they next had to remove the stock injectors and fuel rails. This is necessary not just to replace the factory injectors, but also to raise the intake and remove the stock alternator support bracket. They replaced the stock bracket with the new turbo support bracket and then installed new 39lb injectors. They then bolted the turbocharger to the new support bracket after removing the serpentine belt idler pulley to install the turbo support bracket strap. Installing the turbo inlet pipe was as easy as tightening down a clamp, though again they left it just finger-tight for the moment to aid in the rest of the install.
After sliding a clamp onto the downpipe, they were able to install the downpipe using the factory hanger. They also used the factory clamps to help install the new Y-pipe. With it in place, they were able to finally tighten up the sway bar and move on to the wastegate. In this kit, the wastegate plumbing is a “closed” design that dumps excess pressure back into the exhaust system downstream of the turbine.
With the wastegate taken care of, it was time to install the turbo oil return line to the turbo and oil pan. It is very important to route this away from moving parts, because a broken oil line can obviously ruin your day. Fortunately this is relatively easy, and the crew had no problem routing the oil return line in a safe manner.
One of the most important parts of the install was installing the 1/8″ barb on the proper side of the wastegate. An improperly installed barb can lead to over-boost, damaging the engine. A vacuum line sends a pressure signal from the compressor housing to the wastegate, regulating boost.
Next, it was time to install the intercooler. This required removing the whole front fascia, which sounds like a lot of work but actually goes smoothly thanks to Hellion’s clear instructions.
After installing the two silicone hoses to the intercooler itself, the crew removed the bolts from the hood latch to install the intercooler support straps. The installation was rather simple, and it involved routing the piping down through the engine bay and back up to the intake. After the core was installed, the 4″ inlet pipe was put in next and hooked up to the throttle body. Finally, the bypass valve was installed, which relieves pressure in the intake tract during shifts by rerouting flow from just ahead of the throttle body back to the compressor inlet.
From this point on, it was all about tightening bolts and clamps, finishing hooking up the piping, and reinstalling the front fascia and headlights. Before starting the car, the coolant had to be replaced. Hellion recommends changing the oil and using a synthetic brand, which will help protect the center bearing of the turbocharger thanks to its higher heat resistance. Once the car is started, check for exhaust or boost leaks before taking it to a dyno to have it tested and tuned.
Before installing the Hellion turbo kit, we did a baseline run on the 2010 Mustang GT to see how much power we were making. Box stock, the Mustang made 257 horsepower to the rear wheels and 284 ft-lbs of torque. Not bad, but not exactly earthshaking either.
Using Hellion’s tune, we put the Mustang back on the dyno, and the results were impressive to say the least. The turbo kit added 192 horsepower for a total of 449. Torque also jumped up 190, for 474 ft-lbs of torque at the wheels. Figuring a 15% drive train loss, this kit made about 515 horsepower and almost 550 ft-lbs of torque at the flywheel.
Considering most Hellion turbo kits cost around $5,000 and can be installed in a weekend, this is one of the easiest, most cost effective modifications you can make to your car while maintaining civil daily driving manners – at least until you put your foot into it. It is the perfect choice for someone looking for more power without a lot of headaches or aggravation.