The debate between bar and plate versus tube and fin intercooler technology is an old one. There are boosts in reliability and performance for bar and plate, but they also come at more of a cost too. PWR Performance of Australia owns C&R Racing based in Indy, and over the years, we’ve had experience with both companies’ products. Now, the big push is on for PWR to offer a premium bar and plate intercooler to outperform not only its own legacy product but is ready to battle competing cooling products with a commitment to hardcore coolers tortured in all kinds of motorsports.
We stopped in at PRI to see their first bar and plate product and met with PWR owner Kees Weel to explain their tech further and the new push into this style of intercooler manufacturing.
“We are heading toward bar and plate because they are far more durable and take the punishment,” explains Weel. “Through our design, it’s more efficient overall, too. The bar and plate is also the preferred style of OEM manifold coolers, like our first effort here, the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 intercooler.”
The bar and plate technology differs from the tube and fin style as it’s more expensive and more challenging to manufacture. Manufacturers have thicker gauges of flat, extruded-aluminum hollow bars, but the result is a product that can take abuse and the longevity needed for motorsports. Tube and fin, by contrast, is more delicate and is easily punctured in front-mount intercooler applications.
The technology also meets the strict requirements of the OEMs such as Ford in this case, who turned to PWR Performance to manufacture the bar and plate cooler for the supercharged 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The GT500 is a demanding beast making a staggering 760hp but also one the manufacturer needed to hold up in all kinds of climates, conditions, both on- and off-track for thousands of miles. Its sister company, C&R Racing, manufactured all of the oil coolers on the GT500 straight off the assembly line, so the GT500 is going to be one capable track car off the dealer lot.
“We have learned from OEM supplying and many forms of motorsport from F1 on down,” explains Kees. “Our costs are coming down as we step up bar and plate volume, meaning the aftermarket and street cars will benefit from all of that R&D.”
PWR had a few inquiries at PRI from supercharger manufactures looking to private label, so the bar and plate tech will be more widespread. As for the first official aftermarket PWR bar and plate intercooler, we confirmed it would be for the 2020 Ford Shelby GT500 to offer even more performance than the OEM program produced. PWR will also be making custom-spec bar and plate intercoolers in the near future for those in motorsport running platforms with little to no aftermarket support.