Ro McGonegal
May 27, 2016
Photos By: John Machaqueiro

We looked Keith Fidura in the eye and asked if any of his cars had been featured in an enthusiast rag. He looked right back at us and said that it had happened. “My Camaro was in an issue of GM High Tech. This will be a first for my Mustang, though.” Hmmm. Camaro or Mustang, eh? And Keith’s from Philly, too, kind of like making a choice between a cheese steak from Pat’s on Passyunk or a meatball sanguich from Mama’s in Bala Cynwyd. In the end, it’s moot. Keith has locked onto the Mustang like a lamprey to a shark—an association that’s liable to last a lifetime.

Here’s how that business got started. Keith attended his first SEMA extravaganza in 2010. In his mind it was nothing less than a sojourn to Mecca. “To me, SEMA wasn’t about car parts or sponsorships or magazine articles. It was about knowledge. Parts come and go, e-fame comes and goes, but if you’re lucky enough you meet someone who knows something or has that experience. These people had interesting stories to tell and asked intelligent questions that really made me think.” Among them was Vortech Supercharger’s Brian Ellis.

In 2011, Keith bought a new V6 Mustang. “It was just as powerful, and quicker, than the outgoing 3-valve engine. I absolutely loved it. And the mileage was fantastic. This was only my second Mustang but I was hooked with this iteration of the S197.” Soon, though, he was thinking beyond six cylinders.

A friend at a dealership in Rosedale, Maryland, “got us a great deal on two Mustangs. One was a base-content ’13 that nobody wanted. I wanted it. I was thinking ‘light weight.’” His wife was mesmerized by the Gotta Have It Green metallic tri-coat on another subject, not the mouse gray car Keith craved.

In the end, they bought both, and drove them straight to Capitol Raceway. Knowing the emotional value of “sight-on-scene,” Keith snapped some shots of the green car and sent them immediately to Brian Ellis who responded in grand fashion, saying that he’d give his wife a deal for being a booth car and Keith a deal for its R&D program (they needed a stick-shift version). “One of the best experiences of my life was driving these cars from Pennsylvania to California,” Keith opined. During this hiatus, Keith struck a few more deals with aftermarket suppliers as well.

So when 2013 rolls around Keith sees that his brood is not as potent as it once was. Sponsorship was folding up and the S550 was about to pop. His S197 was long in the tooth, so it was time to use some of the other parts he’d gotten to go against the latest Mustangs. He joined with specialists Revolution Automotive in Rosedale, Maryland, to enact his defense plan.

From the bottom up, Rev Auto fitted the oil pump with MMR gears under the OE oil sump. They upgraded the exhaust tract with 1 7/8-inch primary-pipe JBA long-tube headers and a Greg Jones H-pipe, Magnaflow mufflers and resonators within a 3-inch, mandrel-bent system. Rev went through the MT82 Getrag 6-gear. They replaced the standard torque transfer pieces with a McLeod RXT pressure plate, clutch assembly and flywheel and added a Barton shifter with a Blowfish bracket while they were down there. The Dynotech aluminum prop shaft enables the Detroit Truetrac differential, 3.31:1 gears and 31-spline Moser axles.

The great power adder, the intercooled Vortech V7-JT 6-rib supercharger, was enabled further via a Beefcake Torque Booster (wastegate) and a 3.33-inch pulley. Soon after the conversion, Rev put a Cobra Jet intake beneath the blower. Since the configuration of the stock manifold puts the throttle-body at odds with the blower housing, Rev devised a spacer to lift the housing a scoche and null the interference issue. Rev’s Adam Browne did the tune-up. Making small incremental changes, he took the 550hp (with the stock V7 head and a simple cat-back) to a kidney-disturbing 710hp at the tarmac.

With that much going on behind the scenes, Keith set up the chassis for solid handling as well as straight-line shots. In front, the mechanicals included the original control arms rattling between KW Suspension V3 coilover dampers. To instill a large measure of rigidity, Rev installed a BMR K-member and radiator support. In the hindquarters, strength and security were paramount; UPR upper control arms comport with Bob’s Auto Sport’s lower links. The dampers are KW V3 coilovers. The Panhard bar is BMR and the anti-sway bar was relocated with UPR brackets. As a matter of fact, Rev welded the axle tubes to the center section.

In the friction department, you couldn’t find much better than the 15-inch Brembo brake package (13.8-inch rear) teamed with forged Niche Targa wheels (20x8.5, 20x10) set with Falken Azenis FK453 rubber (275/20, 285/30). Ultimately, the chassis of the 5.0 was corner-balanced, for handling, not straight-line antics. But Keith has still managed 10s in NMRA True Street and is looking for a high-9 in good air.

To optimize the Sterling Gray Mustang’s physical package, Rev added a Cervini Cobra R hood, Roush lower grille delete, Street Scene Generation 2 spoiler and Generation 1 side skirts. The upturned lip on the decklid is a 3D Carbon 3d500 item.

The driver’s pod was customized with Shelby seats slathered in Roadwire Leather hides interrupted slightly by Alcantara inserts. Since the Mustang was a stripper to begin with, Keith maintained his “Mustang Lite” agenda and added nothing more to the interior than a UPR billet shift knob, Alcantara boots for the shifter and emergency brake and Lloyd’s floor mats.

Keith Fidura’s humility, willingness to accept help from others and his ability to step out and view the big picture all had a part in the success of his project. “The car drives stock. With the V3 coilovers it handles just about as well as any solid-axle car can. I just drive the car and let it talk to me. I’m a big fan of taking your time and not letting anyone pressure you, not even yourself,” Keith confessed. “I can’t stress enough that I couldn’t have gotten this car where it is today without HELP and people believing in me.”

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