Jim Bell has been playing with turbos and superchargers for well over 30 years. Although he started with Buick V-6 and V-8 engines, his company, Kenne Bell, has developed a line of supercharger kits that run the gamut of automakers, including Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, and Mazda. Bell's latest application takes Lincoln's ultra-lux Navigator and successfully transforms it into a hot-rod 'ute.
Starting with Lincoln's 300-horsepower, 24-valve 5.4-liter DOHC V-8, Bell adds a 2.2-liter twin-screw AutoRotor blower, conservatively set at six pounds of boost for longevity. A set of 36-pound injectors supply fuel, and Bell recalibrates the engine-management system and tweaks the tranny for firmer shifts at wide-open throttle. A cool-air kit directs a dense charge. Spent gases are expelled through a Magnaflow muffler with dual stainless slash tips from Doug's Headers. The combination squeezes another 82 ponies out of the mill, making 382 horsepower on the dyno, with 343 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 44.
Compared with its stock sibling, the Kenne Bell Navi launches like it was shot from a steam catapult, but we noticed a couple of flat spots in the rev range where the engine and transmission needed to be on better speaking terms. Power delivery is strong and smooth from idle to 5000 rpm, and Bell's blown version effectively trounced its stock counterpart's run to 60 mph by 3.7 seconds, posting a 6.3-second pull. Quarter-mile times also were impressive: the 14.7 second at 90.9 trip through the timing lights mashed our stock version by 2.4 seconds and 8.2 mph. We like the deep, throaty sound the Magnaflow exhaust offers, but at highway cruising speed it's boomy--forget about making small talk with your passengers, and turn up the tunes.
With the mods to the underpinnings consisting of 23x10-inch Oasis "Chris Style" wheels shod in Toyo Proxes 305/40R23 115V M+S tires, we expected to see longer stopping distances with the stock-brake/mongo wheel-and-tire package. That clearly wasn't the case, as this 'rodded Navi stopped from 100 mph in 375 feet (better than the Acura TL and Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder) and 129 feet from 60, some 10 feet better than a stock Navigator, the same as the Ford Harley Davidson F-150, and five feet better than an Escalade. Lincoln's slide-rule boys certainly overengineered the Navigator's braking system, and the huge rubber makes a big difference in stopping distances. But after three 60-to-0 runs, the big Lincoln's brakes were smoking more than a pack a day.
In the slalom, the Toyos helped the Navi gain a four-mph speed advantage over its factory-fresh brethren and made the steering reaction, chassis response, and weight transfer happen much quicker. The rest of this heavy-duty hauler remains stock, with the exception of a Stull Industries Billet stainless-steel grille and a complete re-spray in SpectraFlair "Quicksilver" color-shifting paint.
Bell will be happy to help you transform your Navigator into a blown stoplight screamer for a mere $3950, which includes the entire supercharger kit (with fuel-pump booster, mono chip, cool-air kit, and hardware). He can also point you to an authorized installer. If you want a copy of Bell's luxo hauler, be prepared to shell out around $18,700, including paint and wheels. Any way you slice it, this is one Navigator that earns respect on the road or at the local dragstrip.