Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 26, 2010

As Dario Orlando put his foot to the floor, the Three-Valve 5.0 growls to life. The Whipple supercharger starts to sing, and our view of the outside world blurs. As we approach a curve, there's no slowing down, the Steeda suspension plants the Nittos on the pavement and the car carries flatly through the sweeper. A huge grin is on my face as the carbon-fiber seats keep me planted to accept the g-forces as they come. Suddenly it's time to stop and Dario throws out the anchor courtesy of a quartet of 15-inch brakes. I lunge forward but the seatbelt keeps me planted as the digits descend from the hundreds to zero.

Think of Steeda's StreetFighter Mustang as a street-legal roller coaster. It sports the kind of performance that's just too tempting not to unleash, packing brute force with lithe agility. In fact, this high-end halo car was somewhat inspired by Steeda marketing guru Bob Adams, who drew inspiration from his own 700rwhp Ford GT. When asked how the StreetFighter compares, Bob paused briefly and said, "I do believe the StreetFighter would out-corner it (the GT)." That's pretty high praise, especially for a ride that began its life on the show circuit, but that's getting a bit ahead of the story.

In fact, getting ahead was just the plan for the StreetFighter. Even as the S197 era was at full-tilt, performance mavens at Steeda knew there were changes in the offing for the Mustang. As such, Dario and Bob traveled to Ford to begin development.

"Approximately 10 months before the Mustang was revealed to the world, Dario Orlando and I participated in a meeting with Doug Gaffka (now retired) of Ford Design, wherein the 2010 Mustang was shown to us in detail and directly compared to it's predecessor," Bob explained. "Doug walked us through the thoughts that their staff considered in their design process and thoroughly discussed the final design elements they incorporated. This initial meeting served as the starting point for our design evolution. With knowledge of the '10 model, we embarked on our design ideations with the primary focus on what the typical Steeda customer desires: performance, agility, and innovation."

The result, as you'll learn in our sidebar, was a refined reimagining of the latest Mustang, which is both functional and attractive. In addition to working with Ford, using CAD design, the Steeda team also worked with focus groups to determine what enthusiasts liked and didn't. The result is a success in our eyes, and at the car's debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show the big Blue Oval appreciated the car too.

"The L.A. market can be a tough market to make a statement in and that is why we decided to go for it. We knew from our focus group sessions that we had 'nailed it' and thought that the next validation we needed to do was to send it to a public venue-the L.A. Auto Show Test," Bob explained. "A senior Ford Motor Company Executive who saw the car in person for the first time spent 20 minutes walking around it, sitting inside it and looking at it from all perspectives. His comment to me said it all: 'Bob, this is the best looking Mustang I have ever seen-ever! And I have seen them all. This car's design is simply stunning. It has a muscular, performance-bred appearance of no equal.'"

Appearance is only part of the StreetFighter story. Underneath, the tweaked S197 chassis could easily benefit from Steeda's prowess tuning the suspension. If you recall, Steeda had jumped on the then-new S197 with a litany of suspension and chassis upgrades that were ready as soon as the car hit the streets. Over the years, it has improved and added to that line of parts so the StreetFighter benefitted from years of experience.