Justin Cesler
December 16, 2013

Horse Sense: If you think the 4.0-liter supercharger on Lydon's car is big, there is now a 4.5-liter version available for Mustang applications!

Street car, street car, street car. These days, it seems like everything is labeled as a street car. A 2,000hp drag-radial Mustang with twin turbos and a filled block? Street car! Any car on TV that is fast? Street car! Everything with somewhat functional headlights and a borrowed tag? Street car! A 1,021-rwhp, 4.0-liter, Whipple-blown, nitrous-injected, E85-fueled, 5.4-liter, Darton-sleeved GT500 with a single carbon-fiber seat and a roll cage? Street car!

OK, maybe that last one was a bad example. Because that GT500 actually is a street car, and it's on these pages. Not only is it street driven, it's actually daily driven. As in, it's Lydon Murtha's only car and he drives it every single time he wants to go somewhere. It doesn't get much cooler (or more street) than that.

Known in South Florida's motorhead community as the Red Mamba, what you're looking at here is—and we know it may be hard to believe—Lydon's actual driver. Named after one of the largest, deadliest, and fastest snakes in the world, the Black Mamba, Lydon's GT500 is a true street machine that was built to drive.

"My goal was to reach 1,000 rwhp and still have a daily driver. I wanted this to be a true street car, keeping most of its crucial amenities like A/C, navigation, stereo, and such, without going all-out race car/gutted trailer queen. I wanted to build a car that I could jump into and drive to the supermarket or car show and have that monstrous 1,000-plus horsepower on tap at all times. I knew it wasn't going to be easy ..."

Under the hood, the 5.4-liter GT500 engine has been upgraded by MPR with Darton sleeves, a billet crankshaft, billet I-beam rods, and custom Diamond Pistons. Stage 3 CNC-ported heads, custom billet camshafts, and a 4.0-liter Whipple pullied to 22 pounds of boost bring in the air.

Easy and 1,000 hp don't usually go together, but Lydon assembled a team of hypertalented builders, tuners, and fabricators to turn science fiction into reality. He gave them control of the build from day one. "You know the old saying, ‘Buy once, cry once' ... The rest was history from there." Tim Eichorn from Mustang Performance Racing in Boynton Beach, Florida, acted as Lydon's head coach, helping to not only build a beast of an engine, but also to guide Lydon through the process of setting up such a serious street machine. "I learned a ton through each phase, and it has allowed me to gain substantial knowledge in the performance world of engine building."

Tim and the crew at MPR began assembly of Lydon's 5.4 with a stock Ford block, which was immediately sent to Darton for a new set of M.I.D. cast-iron cylinder sleeves. Once back from machining, the engine was stuffed with a billet crankshaft, Manley billet connecting rods, and a set of custom Diamond pistons, which were ceramic-coated prior to being dropped in the bores. Chris Starnes supplied a set of Stage 3 CNC-ported cylinder heads for the new bullet, which were set up for custom billet camshafts. And yes, custom means you aren't getting the specs, so you'll just have to deal with that ...

"The engine, which would feel at home in any fast race car, was topped with a massive 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger and stacked with a Nitrous Pro-Flo nitrous plate system that was custom made for the Whipple inlet. On 22 psi and 150 hp worth of nitrous, well, let's just say there was no way Lydon's Red Mamba wasn't going to make serious horsepower.

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"After deciding on how the engine was going to be built, I then turned my attention to supporting mods. I believe this area is sometimes overlooked, yet it is extremely crucial in a big build."

Under the watchful eye of Jared Rosen, co-owner of Lethal Performance, Lydon began upgrading the rest of his GT500 to handle the abuse he was planning for it. That meant fortifying the drivetrain and adding a custom-built T56 six-speed manual transmission, complete with a McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch and lightweight steel flywheel, which sends power to a Moser-built 9-inch rear stuffed with a 3.73:1 ring and pinion, 35-spline Moser axles, and a Detroit Locker differential. That's race-car-tough stuff with good street manners, and the six-speed gearbox ensures Lydon doesn't give up any fun factor.

Up front, the Red Mamba rides on Steeda fully adjustable coilover shocks, which are bolted up to a BMR Suspension tubular K-member and control arm package. Out back, Tokico shocks dampen the 9-inch, while a BMR antiroll bar, and Steeda billet lower control arms keep everything planted to the ground. Those gorgeous wheels are from Forgestar, shipped to Lydon wearing a Sunburst Bronze Metallic finish, which really sets the exterior of his GT500 apart. "What's a 1,000-plus horsepower car if you can't look the part?"

For looks, Lydon teamed up with Kris Lim of Superior Automotive Design, who was tasked with designing a "clean and mean" exterior package that would turn heads every time Lydon hit the streets. Kris "wanted to do a different scheme than the typical stripes and make it look more classic, keeping that old-school nostalgic feel but with a modern concept," Lydon explained. One look at the flat-black stripe package, the 19-inch wheels, and the aggressive TruFiber hood, and it's hard to argue with the results.

Speaking of results, are you wondering what the Red Mamba ran at the track? Remember when we told you this was a street car? Well, it's a street car! Which means Lydon hasn't even taken this monster to the track yet, even with a dyno proven 1,021-rwhp on tap. If he did, you can image that the tech officials might have a chat with him about adding a few more bars to that cage. Then, it wouldn't be a street car. And, that is not part of Lydon's gameplan.

Drag radials, no tailpipes, a custom plate, and the flat-black center panel let would-be street racers know that Lydon isn’t here to mess around.

5.0 Tech Specs

Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Stock aluminum 5.4 w/ Darton sleeves
Crankshaft: Billet steel
Rods: Manley billet I-beam
Pistons: Diamond Pistons, ceramic-coated
Camshafts: Custom billet
Cylinder heads: Stock aluminum Four-Valve w/ Chris Starnes Stage 3 CNC porting and PAC Racing valvesprings
Intake manifold: Stock intercooled lower
Power Adder: Whipple 4.0-liter w/ 22 psi and 150hp Nitrous Pro-Flo plate system
Fuel system: Lethal Performance/ Division X return-style system w/ twin 465 Walbro pumps, 205-lb/hr Bosch injectors, and an Aeromotive regulator
Exhaust: Kooks long-tube headers w/ Kooks X-pipe and Magnaflow bullet mufflers
Transmission: Tremec T56 six-speed manual w/ McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch and McLeod lightweight steel flywheel
Rearend: Moser 9-in w/ Detroit Locker differential, 35-spline axles, and 3.73 gears

Electronics
Engine management: Stock w/ Ken Bjonnes tune via SCT XCal2
Ignition: Stock coil-on plug
Gauges: Auto Meter ProComp boost, A/F, and Nitrous Pressure w/ dual Aeroforce Interceptor OBD-II

Suspension and Chassis
Front suspension
K-member: BMR Suspension
A-arms: BMR Suspension
Struts: Steeda coilovers
Springs: Steeda coilovers
Brakes: Brembo, four-piston
Wheels: Forgestar CFV5, 19x9-in
Tires: Nitto Invo, 255/30R-19

Rear suspension
Shocks: Tokico
Springs: Steeda coilover
Control Arms: Steeda billet
Brakes: Brembo, two-piston
Wheels: Forgestar CFV5, 19x10-in
Tires: Nitto NT05R, 305/35R-19