Paul Rosner
March 1, 2008

Nearly all of us have an addiction to our cars. For those reading this, it's probably a Mustang. Enthusiasts' rides range from mildly modified daily drivers to mega-horsepower show cars to all-out, rocket-fast race cars.

The Matusek family has experienced each of the above with racing roots at the forefront of their family history. Steve Matusek has reached the plateau of performance with his latest creation, following the same path as his father, John.

John was a car fanatic from the onset. After emigrating from Hungary to the U.S. in the '60s, he learned the English language from reading Hot Rod magazine. John's passion led him to a career as a mechanic at a Ford dealership; he eventually opened his own shop where his racing roots began. John toyed with a '56 Mercury before moving on to a '32 Ford Bantam with a fuel-injected 427 Cammer motor. He then went to front- and rear-engine dragsters.

Throughout the '60s and '70s, the Matusek family looked forward to their annual family vacation at the U.S. Nationals. To say racing is in their blood is an understatement. In 1994, they turned their love of the sport into a family business, Aeromotive Fuel Systems. Their most recognized race car is the '70 427-powered Maverick they campaign in ultra-competitive NHRA Super Gas and occasionally in Open Comp-style racing.

Today, Steve and Aeromotive Project Engineer Brett Clow can enjoy the limelight after spending nearly two years building one of the most amazing vehicles we've seen on the quarter-mile pavement.

Steve Matusek's dad John (left), drove 427-cammer-powered dragsters in the '60s and '70s. Now he's a crew staple at68 years old. Every year, John treated the family to a summer vacation on a trip to the U.S. nationals. He never imagined he and the kids would someday race there.

Steve's idea was to use an attractive, high-profile body style with a powerplant consumers could relate to, so he chose an '07 Shelby with a Four-Valve modular engine. He chose a 5.4-liter aluminum engine from the Ford GT-not only for its potential, but so it could easily fit in several sanctions without many changes other than weight. The block is set up in full-race, dry-deck condition with no oil or water passing through the engine for maximum strength.

VT Engines in Michigan did the initial machining with Duttweiler touching up the tolerances before letting the boost loose. JE Pistons are mounted on MGP connecting rods and attach to a Kellogg forged-steel crankshaft. Steve and Brett aimed for a 1.6 rod-to-bore ratio so the engine is actually destroked to around 324 ci with about 11:1 compression.

The most work in this project probably went into the Ford GT Four-Valve heads. To perfect the port design, Brett made hundreds of trips between Kansas City, Missouri's Noland's Head Service and Gore Performance. Once Steve and Brett got the numbers they were looking for, Jesel designed special rocker arms and trick cam followers for the industry's first set of solid-roller camshafts from Comp Cams. The Duttweiler-spec cams are nested in bronze bushings and are probably 0.050 bigger than any other camshaft used in this type of engine. The Comp Cams titanium valves and beehive springs ensure the engine will survive at the 9,200 rpm it typically sees on a quarter-mile pass.

With all the custom port work completed, the heads were sent to Wilson Manifolds to have a custom intake designed and manufactured to utilize every cubic centimeter available. The CAD-CAM upper and lower intake was fully CNC-machined from solid pieces of aluminum. Only the upper plenum box was welded for a 110mm throttle body.

The next challenge was the timing. A modular engine of this magnitude needs eight coil packs and a bolt of lightning to keep them energized. "That's why we chose to run a distributor," Steve says. "Innovators West stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with a custom crankshaft-driven distributor/dampener system that fits in the stock water-pump location." An MSD-8 box, wires, and distributor complete the ignition system, which works seamlessly with the F.A.S.T. tuning software and Racepak datalogging system.