Above: Stock calibration vs. E85 calibration.MET
Above: Stock calibration vs. 93-octane calibration (93-octane fuel used for both tests)
The Boss 302. If you haven't been on a trip to the Moon or Mars lately, this car needs no introduction. If you're lucky enough to own one, you know all about the red ignition key; the one called "TracKey". When you start the Boss using this little gem, 200-some-odd parameters within the PCM run under a different color...and we think they see everything in red. So you get the full 444 hp and a much angrier ride than, say, your poor valet who has to drive the Boss 302 with the regular ignition key, which we think Ford should have called "LacKey". We'd apologize to the valets for this remark, but we know what you do! We were there once, too, donchaknow? But back to the Boss! As good of a job as Ford did, we know there's always just a little bit more on the table, so we went looking for it. And then we poured in some E85 for good measure. And along the way we stumbled across a great little bit of kit called the nGauge.
The nGauge is a cool little device. We normally don't throw praise easily around here, but this product we love and we could wax poetic about it all day. It is, first and foremost, a gauge. You can mount it in your car and use it to display in an analog or digital format. In digital mode, you can also select the number of parameters you wish to see displayed; 4 or 6. There is also a set of programmable LEDs across the top (think F1 or Indycar shift-light style) as well as an on-board microprocessor that can pluck the data from your OBD II port and thus display just about all of the parameters your PCM outputs. How cool is that? But, before you say "We've seen that before, dudes!", get this: the nGauge also has an on-board SD card that can hold extensive data-logs and a bunch of calibrations that you can export from your HP Tuners Editor software. Have we got your attention now? Good, 'cause there's more. Along with data-logging, you can also perform diagnostics by reading, displaying and erasing Diagnostic Trouble Codes, and you can use the nGauge to program your your PCM with the calibrations you have loaded onto the card. You have to admit, that's pretty cool! So we decided to put this sweet bit of kit to good use and set up the Boss 302 for proper track duty by making a quick E85 tune and then we also made another calibration for optimum use with 93-octane pump gas. Ford, doing a stellar job of calibrating the stock PCM, left nothing on the table with fueling and cam timing when the car ran using the TracKey. We did, however, manage to pick up a bit of power by tweaking the ignition maps for use with 93-octane and E85. This particular Boss 302 is a completely stock car, just as it arrived from Ford (well, save the wheels and tires) with no engine mods whatsoever...not even a different air filter.
Fueling with the TracKey on the stock calibration results in an AFR of 12.9:1 to 13.1:1 across the entire rev-range at WOT, so there wasn't much to gain there. Same goes for the cams. We tried both, and a few changes plus and then minus did us no good as no power was gained. We then went to ignition timing. A few degrees of timing resulted in a 10 hp gain at the rear wheels when running 93-octane fuel, and we had 18 hp over stock at the rear wheels when running E85. You can check out the dyno graphs further down the page. What we loved about the nGauge, though, is that now we're able to load all of these calibrations onto the nGauge's on-board SD card and have the ability to change the PCM calibration no matter where we are even if we leave our tuning equipment at the shop. You can basically think of the nGauge as a complete (and very sophisticated) gauge while also serving double-duty as a hand-held tuner (without having to hold it of course). Check out our little video feature below. We show you how the nGauge sets up as well as how to export your tunes from your HP Tuners Editor onto the nGauge SD card. To get a better view of the HP Tuners screen captures, run the video in full-screen mode, and then do yourself a favor and get yourself an nGauge. The nGauge will work on most any OBD II-equipped vehicle as a gauge and currently supports Ford vehicles for PCM programming, but support for GM and Chrysler vehicles is coming shortly. You can grab an nGauge by reaching out to the good folks at Ferraro Speed by clicking here. And don't forget to check out the dyno graphs below!