Michael Johnson Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 1, 2014
Photos By: Steve Turner, KJ Jones

Horse Sense

Hey, 5.0&SF Nation—are you still loving KOTS? We’ve been running this event for years, but we’re wondering if it’s time to try something new. Do you want us to keep rolling with KOTS? Let us know at 5.0mailbag@sorc.com, but ultimately you vote with your wallets. If this issue sells well, we’ll know that you truly want us to keep it up.

We try to bring you the baddest Mustangs on the planet on a monthly basis. It’s one thing to have a few of the those Mustangs in each issue, but to have a dozen of them squaring off in one story, well, that’s our King of the Street competition.

KOTS matches the most powerful street Mustangs on the planet against each other to crown a king. We gather these ’Stangs together and compare horsepower, driveability, engineering, fit, finish, and drag times, and fans also vote for their favorite. All of this combines to help us choose the King of the Street. Of course, since this is the 10th annual KOTS, none of this information should be new. You should be well-versed in everything KOTS. If not, shame on you, but we’re here to bring you up to speed.

The annual King of the Street competition is our way of finding the baddest street Mustang on the planet. We’re looking for the Mustang that best combines all-out horsepower with everyday driveability. Therefore, competitors are rewarded for clean cold starts, an overdrive transmission, a spot-on tune, and a stock-like drive through Bowling Green, Kentucky. Conversely, points are taken away for non-overdrive transmissions, non-functional creature comforts, stalling, or a vehicle operation involving more steps and instruction than the space shuttle. Basically, anything that hints at non-factory operation is up for a score reduction, so any concession made to driveability in the name of all-out performance is going to have a negative impact.

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As part of the competition, we head over to Holley Performance Products, also in Bowling Green, for the most popular segment of the King of the Street. All competitors are tested on the same Dynojet on the same day, going head-to-head for horsepower supremacy. This is a big part of the competition—25 percent of the final score. Every competitor gets two shots on Holley’s Dynojet, with five minutes between pulls for cooling, tuning, or mechanical adjustments. The object of the horsepower game is to make as much as you can—it’s that simple. The top horsepower maker gets the highest score in that category.

This year was the second time inclement weather affected the competition. We woke up to rain Thursday, which delayed photos and the Ride & Drive until late morning/early afternoon. That put us behind. We were able to drive a few cars on Thursday, and a couple on Friday during the dyno portion at Holley, but we still had cars to drive as of Saturday—the day scheduled for track times as part of the Drag portion. Driving a couple of the cars had an impact on the fairness of the Drag portion, so much so that we ultimately dropped the Drag portion from the final judging. We felt this was the best way to keep the judging fair. We folded the Drag portion’s 10 percent into Fit & Finish and Engineering.

Adding to the crunch created by the weather, this year KOTS had more competitors than usual, with a total of 16 entering. Editor Turner advised us to invite all of them, saying the usual attrition striking KOTS competitors would reduce that number to 10. Well, pre-event attrition only reduced that number to 12. (I was close.—Ed.) In his defense, the 2012 King of the Street boasted only seven competitors.

As you’ll read, we had parity among power adders, engine combinations, transmission choices, and body styles. We hoped to have two Fox Mustangs at the competition, but one dropped out at the last minute. Our competitors ranged from a dragstrip-hero ’86 SVO, to a rockstar ’13 Shelby GT500, and everything in between. To see how your favorite Mustang finished, read on.

Judge Dread

Judging the King of the Street is an arduous task. It keeps us up at night trying to score each participant fairly and honestly. Let’s face it, the Mustangs we have in the King of the Street competition are some of the nicest cars you’ll ever see. We’re continuously amazed at the build quality of competing cars. Every year we’re treated to new ideas and innovations that help make our hobby more fun. They also give us something to consider for our own project cars here at the magazine.

The faults we find with these cars are most often nitpicking, but we have to maintain a discerning eye and ear to differentiate a King of the Street competitor from the more common Mustangs we see on a daily basis. Any of us would love a King of the Street competitor, but there can only be one winner.

We usually judge King of the Street using six categories: Horsepower, Ride & Drive, Engineering, Fit & Finish, Drag Race, and Popular Vote. This year weather affected our schedule, leaving many competitors scrambling to be ready or heat-soaked for the Drag Race portion, we felt it only fair to throw out that part of the competition. The Drag Race portion’s 10 percent was rolled into the Engineering and Fit & Finish categories, respectively, making the Engineering and Fit & Finish categories each worth 20 percent of the final score, which harkens back to the days before we added drag racing to the KOTS palette. The Horsepower and Ride & Drive were still worth 25 percent, while the Popular Vote category was worth 10 percent of the overall score, graded on a 100-percent scale.

  • Horsepower: 25 percent
  • Ride & Drive: 25 perecnt
  • Engineering: 20 percent
  • Fit & Finish: 20 percent
  • Popular Vote: 10 percent

Should we soldier on with King of the Street, there will be tweaks to this structure, bringing the focus back to the core categories and reducing the probability of complications. Stay tuned.