Evan J. Smith
April 22, 2011
Photos By: Pete Epple, Justin Cesler

Track Test

At the start of this adventure I mentioned we had a choice to make. Since Steeda was itching for us to best its 11.97 e.t. with drag radials and the front antiroll bar disconnected, we took advantage of the cool morning air and headed for the strip.

Wasting no time, Associate Editor Marc Christ installed our new Mickey Thompson 275/40-17 drag radial tires. We left the front antiroll bar in place, wanting to see what the car could do without much fuss.

Running low 12s out of the gate was a snap, as I was heating the M/T rubber with a mild Second-gear burnout and then launching at 3,500 rpm. After a few "get-to-know-you" passes, I was in the 12.0s at 115 mph. The GT was bogging a bit due to the great bite, so I upped the rpm to 4,200 and was able to score a 1.76 60-foot time (from a previous best of 1.78). The improved launch (combined with aggressive powershifts) gave us our first 11-second run-an 11.97 at 115.14 mph.

As a comparison, we tested a stock 2011 GT (MM&FF, July '10), and managed 12.69/112 stock (2.06 60-foot) and 12.34 (1.75 60-foot) with drag radials in similar weather and track conditions.

To say we were having fun would be a gross understatement. The Steeda Sport Edition was producing all the right sounds, smells, and performance that anyone could ask for. The boys at Steeda did a great job with the tune, and we enjoyed the few extra revs, since the limiter was turned up just north of 7,500 rpm. This allowed us to shift higher than normal, but not much more. We did try going as high as 7,600, but the engine didn't pull up there, so we backed it down to 7,300 and were rewarded with our best lap of the day-11.92 at 115.97 mph. If we didn't have to move on, we're certain an 11.80 was a just a pass or two away.

Satisfied that the GT was a solid 11-second player, it was off to the road course. The Gainesville course is tight and a real brake killer, but it's ok for basic vehicle evaluation. Unfortunately, the cold weather did nothing for traction. Nevertheless, we slipped in a lap quicker than our best in the stock 2011 GT (1.07.15 and 1.07.18 versus 1.07.83). Problem was, we couldn't build any heat into the tires, and the tail got really happy with the smallest application of throttle on corner exit. Our problems were compounded by the stock brakes, which faded after only a few laps. With warmer weather, there is no doubt we'd have seen laps in the 1.06 range.

Nevertheless, Steeda's suspension, which consists of chromoly strut-tower brace, competiton rear antiroll bar, adjustable front antiroll bar, lowering springs, and adjustable Panhard rod, gave the GT a nimble and accurate feel. It is hunkered down and there was noticeably less roll than with a stocker. We were riding on Steeda 20-inch Spyder wheels with Nitto NT05 tires, and have had great success with that combo on other cars.

No Steeda would be complete without some aesthetic enhancement. The Sport Edition wears a lightweight hood, the aforementioned wheel and tire combo, and a slick graphics package. It also had a billet power plug door and Steeda floormats.

Suffice it to say, we were impressed with this amazing package-heck, we drove the GT for six weeks before reluctantly giving it back! Steeda tweaked the right nerves to enhance performance and let everyone know the GT was packing more than stock. We love any Stang that can whip the snot out of a new Camaro or Challenger at the strip, and then eat Corvettes on a road course.

And with that we have not much else to say-except, Mr. Orlando, can we have it back for another six weeks?

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