Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
March 1, 2009
Photos By: Kevin DiOssi

There seems to be an endless supply of Mustang tuners in the market these days, but few of them have what it takes to produce a truly viable high-performance Mustang. Steeda Autosports in Pompano Beach, Florida, has always impressed us with its product offerings, and for good reason. During the week, Steeda works closely with Ford utilizing the technology transfer program to ensure that its components meet or exceed factory specifications. On the weekends, you'll find the Steeda staff at any number of racetracks in Florida, as they put their products through the ultimate high-performance tests.

We recently had a chance to workout the company's mid-level Mustang package, but don't let the middle grade fool you into thinking this is some body kit and cold-air combination. Not even close. The supercharged Steeda Q500 was designed to take down the likes of Shelby's GT500 and GM's Corvette ZO6. It's a serious player in the high-performance car market.

Being that this particular Q500 has been the development mule for Steeda, it has seen more parts than probably any other car on the Steeda campus. Its current configuration is what one could expect if they bought a complete car through one of Steeda's dealers, or if they just called up Steeda Autosports and ordered the Q500 components. While the 4.6L long-block has been left untouched, its been supercharged using Whipple's efficient Gen II twin-screw blower. The intercooled system offers 10 psi of manifold pressure, and the Gen II delivers more airflow in a lower rpm range to improve low-speed throttle response and power.

Complementing the supercharger is an upgraded fuel system that utilizes Steeda's GT500 dual-fuel-pump setup, along with 34 lb/hr fuel injectors. The system is good for 600 flywheel horsepower, so it's plenty safe for the Q500s output. Aside from Steeda's Adaptive Performance Calibration--more on that later--the only other engine modifications are Steeda's cold-air kit and stainless steel axle-back exhaust.

Making that kind of power in a car of the S197's heft requires stopping power that is capable of pulling the behemoth down from speed--repeatedly and without fail. To that end, the Q500 wears a 14-inch rotor/four-piston caliper arrangement up front and a 13-inch rotor with the stock rear caliper setup at the back. Steeda's brake cooling system is also on board to keep the binders chilled. We can attest that the brakes work very well, even when pushed hard on an open road course like Sebring International Raceway.

When we picked up the Q500 to snap some photos, the car was sporting Steeda's brand new 20-inch wheels. Details were limited at the time this was written, but they should be hitting the streets by the time you read this.

And it's those high-speed corners at Sebring where you'll most appreciate Steeda's full complement of suspension components. Front and rear sway bars, camber plates, a bumpsteer kit, ball joints, lower control arms, a Panhard bar brace, a strut tower brace, and sport coil springs all wear the Steeda name, and join a quartet of Tokico D-spec shocks and struts. Steeda's brand new adjustable Watts Link rear suspension was fitted to our Q500 and replaces the stock Panhard bar. Unlike most Watts Linkage setups, Steeda engineered an adjustable center mount so that you can alter the rear roll center to optimize handling and feel.

As with the engine, the rest of the Q500's drivetrain is relatively stock, though a Tri-Ax shifter manipulates the Tremec 3650 five-speed transmission, and an Exedy Mach 600 clutch transfers the power. The 8.8 rear axle has been left untouched.

The interior and exterior have been given the full Steeda complement of styling cues, from the Sidewinder door graphics to the custom gauge faces and leather upholstery. The exterior styling elements give the S197 Mustang an aggressive and sporty appearance, without seeming overly gaudy. We loved the vibrant red-on-black combination, but you can get a Q500 in any factory color you like.