What’s Important Now, Wasn’t Important Then
I can remember pulling the air silencer out of my 1988 Mustang GT in college and my buddy Chris saying “You know, someone’s gonna pay big $$$ for that kind of stuff some day”. I quickly agreed and that part ended up on my shelf for years. He wasn’t wrong at all. But at the time the extra 3-5hp gain from removing it and adding a K&N panel filter was more important. All in the name of power and speed as they say. Chris and I laugh about that every time we hang out these days because years later I sold that air silencer for $60 to a buddy needing it for an 87 Saleen restoration. My how things do flip flop from the past.
At every show I go to that same conversation comes up at some point. “If I only had a time machine” or “I wish I had held on to…” name the part that was sacrificed all in the name of speed and horsepower. Factory H pipes, factory cat back muffler systems, and many other things that are now bringing a lot of money. I’ve seen guys advertising stock 87-93 5.0 intakes for $200! What you once couldn’t give away now has large monetary value. Especially if it is an NOS (new old stock) part.
This brings up another point at the show scene. You’ll hear discussions of what is “correct” and “incorrect” on 80’s and 90’s cars now. This isn’t just in the Foxbody Mustang world either. This is something that is discussed at any large gathering that I’ve attended in the last five years. All makes and models aren’t immune to this critique. So things like air silencers and factory exhaust details get discussed when at one point no one cared at all about those details.
This kind of discussion came up recently at a show regarding Foxbody Saleen Mustangs that were equipped by Saleen with Vortech Superchargers. These are known in the Saleen community as “Factory Supercharged” models. Saleen started offering this on their Mustang models starting in 1992. The reason the discussion came up is because at one point in time when Vortech serviced your unit, they just grabbed a new unit off the shelf, stamped the original serial number in it and shipped it to you. They then destroyed the original unit. It just wasn’t worth their time to rebuild the units10 or even 20+ years ago. Vortech also offered the replacement as an “upgrade” when they weren’t making the exact model sent in. Like they would offer you a V2 or V3 unit for your V1 unit at a price paid by the customer.
The challenge with that type of replacing is that the original tag on the unit wasn’t transferred. This means you got whatever tag was on the new unit. Over the years the tags would change due to patents being updated, CARB numbers being updated, and Vortech’s location changing. Something they also did was flip flop between the term Supercharger and Gearcharger.
The image above is from a VERY early Vortech Supercharger sold by Vortech to Saleen Performance at the time and installed on a 1992 Saleen. The script on this unit says Supercharger. There’s some rumors going around that a unit like this would be considered a “replacement” unit on an early Saleen. Hold that thought for a minute.
The above image is a picture of the supercharger from 1993 Saleen SA10 #08. Note the differences from the previous picture. It says Gearcharger on it and the patent numbers have been added. It was assumed by many that the Gearcharger term was used by Vortech Engineering first and then Supercharger used later. Circling back to the thought I said to hold on to above, I did some investigating. I made a phone call to Vortech because they keep records of all the serial numbers to units when they come in for repairs/upgrades. I asked about the unit from the 1992 Saleen above and what was interesting is that I was given all the info on it. The unit was produced and sold to Saleen Performance in May of 92 which made sense as the Mustang was completed by Saleen in June of 92. They had ALL the info on this unit. But, what’s interesting is that it has NEVER been back to Vortech for service. Ever!
So to sum up all the details. It is apparent that Vortech started out using the term Supercharger on their units and at some point changed to Gearcharger and then went back to the Supercharger name and stayed with that name from then on. That change based on what I’ve seen was circa late 1994-95. About the time the S trim model came out.