Written By Michael Galimi
Photography by Michael Galimi and Courtesy of Shearer Fabrications
In the late 1990s, a new concept was brought into the Mustang marketplace—air-to-water intercoolers. Vortech certainly didn’t invent the air-to-water intercooler; it merely packaged it so that the average enthusiast can bolt one on to their Mustang with relative ease. Officially named the Mondo Cooler, enthusiasts instantly branded it as the “Igloo” due to a mix of ice and water to help chill the boost. Vortech had released the Igloo in conjunction with its big superchargers of the time, like the J- and X-trim units, but eventually all types of boosted applications turned to that setup.
The concept was simple—a box served as the upper plenum and had an intercooler core wedged between two lids. A variety of base plates allowed racers to adapt the Igloo to popular 5.0-Liter lower intake manifolds of the day. The Igloo became an instant icon in the marketplace and etched itself in the history books of hot rodding.
Twenty years later, the concept is still a viable and effective one in the high-performance market and Shearer Fabrications helped adapt it to today’s high-flowing boost makers.
“About a year ago, Alex Vrettos called me to talk about his new Ultra Street car,” shared Ron Shearer of Shearer Fabrications. He continued, “He had used an Igloo on his Mustang and he wanted me to bring that concept back to life for his new LS engine.” After kicking around a few ideas Shearer had directed Vrettos to one of his shop’s more popular products, a Holley Hi-Ram intake with a custom intercooler core built into it.
Vrettos might have been satisfied with the Holley/Shearer intake and intercooler arrangement, but the Igloo concept stayed fresh in Shearer’s mind. For months the concept of revitalizing the Igloo cooler ate at him until he succumbed to the madness. Shearer fired up his computer and began drawing a new concept to revive the Igloo intercooler system. He quickly realized that the Shearer two-core intercooler was practically a perfect fit.
“The Igloo core was very close in height and width. I had to slightly modify our 2,000hp cores and now it fits just right,” Shearer confessed.
The concept inched closer to reality and Shearer enlisted Redline Motorsports to help test it in the real world. Redline’s Matt Bell revealed, “The main reason we switched to it [the Shearer/Vortech intercooler] was because we were trying to get every last bit of power for heads-up racing.” Bell knew that moving the intercooler from the passenger seat to under the hood would greatly reduce the discharge piping length. In most cases, increasing the efficiency of cold-side piping results in increased manifold pressure, leading to greater power production.
Bell knew this intercooler arrangement was ideal for Brian Edwards’ 1993 Mustang. The Redline team uses that car to compete in MX235, a small-tire category that requires racers to run 235/60-15 drag radials. Despite the traction-limited rear meats, adding power is always a good thing in a heads-up car. The combination is rather simple—a 356ci engine benefits from Trick Flow High Port cylinder heads and a Precision 85mm turbocharger.
The Mustang threw down a baseline run of 1,372 rwhp with the in-car mounted intercooler, which at the time was good for 4.80 performances on the drag strip. Adding the Shearer Fabrications/Vortech Mondo Cooler increased rwhp output by 94, swelling total output to 1,466 rwhp. Increasing power by nearly 100 rwhp without jumping up in turbo size or any other major engine modifications is certainly an appealing modification. On track, the results were just as impressive as Edwards has run a best of 4.671 at 157 mph.
Adding a high-flow Shearer Fabrications two-core intercooler setup to a Mondo Cooler helps modernize an old friend to keep up with today’s centrifugal and supercharger technology.