Michael Johnson Associate Editor
May 1, 2013
Photos By: Steve Turner

For our yearly American Muscle King of the Street competition, we usually choose 10 to 12 cars. Our hope is—and it has been true to form in the past—that if a couple cars fall out (and they will), we’ll still have at least 10 cars competing. In 2012, the pre-competition attrition was at an all-time high. We picked our usual 12 cars and waited to hear the fallout. Of course, we heard from a couple leading up to the competition that they wouldn’t be able to make it. But when we arrived at Beech Bend Raceway’s amusement park area for the start of the competition, we were down a few more cars for a dismal six contestants. To say we were disappointed would be a huge understatement.

A ray of sunshine came in the form of Evolution Performance’s Fred Cook offering to call one of the company’s customers, who happened to be at Beech Bend Raceway to compete at the NMRA event. Domenic Didonato had his ’12 Shelby GT500 at Beech Bend, and after going over the car’s specifics with Fred, we decided to invite Domenic over to the KOTS game to pinch hit—and we’re glad we did. That brought the total number to a lucky seven. Not quite the 10 we like to have, but what we lacked in quantity we more than made up for with quality.

The King of the Street competition is designed to find the Mustang that best balances all-out horsepower and silky smooth driveability. We look for Mustangs that make a lot of power, but they must also display the ability to drive comfortably in traffic. Therefore, we look for overdrive transmissions, A/C, heat, cruise control, and the like. We have allowed non-overdrive transmissions in the competition, but everyone knows they are not as driveable, so we automatically deduct points for non-overdrive transmissions.

“To be clear about our standards for the King of the Street, we are looking for an ideal Mustang: one that looks great but performs at an elite level. Just bolting parts to a stock Mustang is attainable for anyone, but taking it to the next level is the pinnacle we seek,” Editor Steve Turner explained. “Typically the areas that are most neglected by competitors are the extra steps of appearance mods, the creature comforts, and the audio systems. I have always believed that it’s easy to make a car faster by stripping it down, but it’s far more challenging to retain these aspects in a performance car.”

One thing you’ll see with this year’s KOTS is that the finishing order basically mimicked the horsepower numbers made by competitors. That’s unfortunate as it implies horsepower is most important—in reality, it’s not. However, this year’s competition was a bit of an anomaly. We’ve always explained to people who are fixated on horsepower numbers that King of the Street is more than a power competition, but unfortunately that’s how it went this year. We’d like to think the other categories support a broad spectrum of deciding factors. It’s not every year that the highest horsepower car wins, but if a competitor scores well in the Horsepower and Ride & Drive categories, he is well on the way to excelling.

In order to verify the power each King of the Street car produced, we trekked over to Holley Performance Products, also in Bowling Green, to use its in-house Dynojet. Ensuring a level playing field, every car was given two pulls on the same dyno, on the same day, and received a 5-minute break between pulls for cooling and minor tweaks. What each car makes back home might get you into King of the Street, but it doesn’t help your ride wear the crown. The best number on Holley’s ’Jet is the one that counts.

If there’s any aspect of the King of the Street we strive for it’s diversity. Diversity of body styles, and diversity of power adders and transmission combinations. We don’t want a bunch of similar combinations and body styles in the competition, but this time around we were left with several ’11-’13 Mustangs in the competition. We didn’t have a Fox Mustang apply. We had one pushrod combination, and it was also a SN-95 car so were excited for that car to see how it would do. Unfortunately, that car ran into problems right before the competition and had to drop out.

Of the seven competing cars, we had two outside the ’11-’13 Mustang category, and one was Jammye McQuade’s ’07 GT500, which we invited back for a little redemption. That left Steve Shrader’s ’99 GT as the only non-S197 Mustang, and the oldest ride in the competition. However, as you’ll soon read, Steve’s New Edge held its own, even with a Two-Valve underhood. It was truly the “little engine that could” of the competition.

In the end, though, there was one car everyone else was trying to beat, and that was Jon Lund’s ’11 Mustang GT. Yep, you can add King of the Street to the car’s list of accomplishments. Congrats, Jon!

Horse Sense:
While reading this you are probably thinking your ride could win our little competition. Well, it’s time to put your ’Stang where your thoughts are. It’s never too early to submit your ride for KOTS consideration. Just mail or email a few shots of the car, a description of its mods, and a list of its performance credentials to KOTS, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619, or 5.0mailbag@sorc.com. Get it to us before Labor Day. If we like what we see, you’ll find out on September 3—in plenty of time to make travel plans for the NMRA Ford World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in early October.

Vote for Pedro
Here’s a look at the Facebook poll as voted by readers and event attendees alike. We found this a more accurate representation of the true results instead of people stuffing a makeshift ballot box at the event. The Popular Vote is worth 10 percent of the final score for the King of the Street. The Horsepower, and Ride & Drive categories are each worth 25 percent, while the Engineering and Fit & Finish categories are worth 15 percent. Like the Popular Vote, the Drag Race category is worth 10 percent. If you add all the categories together, you see we score on a 100-percent grade scale.