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.

"Ford did a superb job of fine tuning its chassis and suspension components for the '10," Bob explained. "All in all, there were many minor changes that it made-some apparent to the casual onlooker-others not so apparent but, nonetheless, that when combined together resulted in a significant change. We took into consideration all of its changes and then further upgraded our suspension components to further up the ante in the performance arena."

As you learned in the intro, the full-tilt Steeda suspension works like a champ, but what's more impressive-as we've found with our own Steeda-suspended project-is the ride quality. Though this car makes a big visual statement with huge HRE Monoblock P40 rims and rubber-band Nittos, it rides smoothly and quietly. Sure there's a bit more of an edge there, but if you didn't know the car's capabilities, the ride wouldn't give them away.

What's underhood is a bit more obvious. Turning the key the brawny Three-Valve growls to life and takes a minute to find its happy place. After that, the idle is smooth, but the exhaust is robust. It doesn't shake or drone, but you know it's got some oats, 690 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel to be precise. Despite its performance character, the blower's auditory personality takes a back seat to the engine's mechanical symphony, but when the boost starts cooking, it comes alive.

While the Three-Valve 5.0 foreshadows the forthcoming Coyote-powered Steedas, these cars are mainly about showcasing the hardware they are built on.

"At Steeda Autosports we recognize that some customers will want to build their own vehicle to their own taste, timing, and budget," Bob said. "While it will be far more beneficial from a financial perspective to buy one of our serialized vehicles where we package the body kit and performance components together, as in the past, we will not restrict sales of these components to our loyal Ford performance customers."

If you decide you want something the caliber of the Steeda StreetFighter, it will naturally build you one. You certainly won't be disappointed.

Street Styling
There is no shortage of aftermarket body panels available to set your Mustang apart from the crowd. However, when it came time to take on the '10-and-up Mustang, Steeda wanted a cohesive upgrade that performed as well as it looked. "Simply an outstanding performance-bred design appearance that complements the natural lines of the Ford Mustang with no compromises," Bob said of the goal. "It is important to our customers that the DNA that Ford instills in the Mustang and the Steeda race-bred DNA work in complete harmony together."

To make that happen, they used computer-aided design to work with the data provided by Ford. "All of our body components must have a performance attribute, or else they are just dead weight and simply are not needed on the vehicle. From the front fascia (that provides downforce and enhanced cooling for the brakes, oil cooler, and radiator) to the Steeda hood (that outperforms and out flows all other hoods in exhausting the hot air from the engine compartment) to the rear spoiler (that provides downforce and the smoothest slipstream), the Steeda bodywork has no equal in the wind tunnel or the racetrack!"

After several drawings, design studies, focus groups and iterations, the Steeda bodywork went from the computer to the real world as a prototype. From there, as you can see in the photo, the design went through a few final refinements receiving final design assistance from Ford Corporate Designers Melvin Betancourt and Garen Nicogosian who offered their assistance under the Ford/SEMA Show Program. The final version is sleek, unique, and a definite performance-orientated design that is true to the original Mustang and Steeda DNA. "When you look at other designs, sometime they are done with objectives other than performance in mind," Bob explained. "That would never happen at Steeda, as we never compromise a vehicle's performance or safety in the designs that we do."

Natural High
If you drooled over the StreetFighter, but don't make the financial jump into a top-of-the-line tuner 'Stang, Steeda offers plenty of options from parts to entry level, naturally aspirated packages. In fact, Steeda's NA cars have ranked among some of our favorite aftermarket Mustangs that we've spent time in. The final 4.6 iteration of these naturally aspirated packages is the '10 Q350, which won an Outstanding Design Achievement Award at the '10 SEMA show.

This car features the same front fascia and wing as the StreetFighter, but offers a blend of naturally aspirated performance upgrades and a complete suspension upgrade. Rolling on Steeda's own Spyder wheels, the Q350 packs a full Steeda suspension short of the coilovers and Watt's link found on his high-end brother. Underhood, it packs Steeda's own cold-air, axle-back exhaust, charge-motion delete plates, and underdrive pulleys.

With crisp NA performance, and razor-sharp handling, the Steeda Q350 offers a real-world proof-of-concept for the company's wide array of performance parts.

5.0 Tech Specs


'10 Streetfighter
Engine and Drivetrain
Block Stock aluminum 4.6
Displacement 302 ci
Crankshaft Eagle ESP forged 4340
Rods Eagle 4340 forged H-beam
Pistons Arias forged aluminum
Camshafts Comp Cams NSR
Cylinder Heads Stock Three-Valve
Intake Manifold Whipple
Power Adder Whipple supercharger with Steeda beltdrive
Mass Air Steeda 90mm housing with stock electronics
Throttle Body Stock
Fuel System GT500 fuel pumps with 60-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust Magnaflow high-flow catalytic X-style pipe, Steeda axle-back
Transmission Tremec six-speed w/Exedy clutch and Steeda Tri-Ax shifter
Rearend 8.8 w/3.73 gears and Steeda Watt's link

Electronics
Engine Management Stock w/Steeda custom calibration
Ignition Stock
Gauges Aeroforce w/Speed of Sound A-pillar gauge cluster

Chassis and Suspension
Front Suspension
K-member Stock
Control Arms Stock w/Steeda X5 Ball Joint Kit
Struts Tokico D-spec w/Steeda upper strut mount kit
Springs Steeda
Sway bar Steeda adjustable
Brakes Steeda/Baer six-piston calipers w/15-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Wheels HRE Monoblock P40, 20x9.5-inch
Tires Nitto NT05 275/35-20
Rear Suspension
Shocks Steeda/Tokico D-spec
Springs Steeda
Sway Bar Steeda rear swaybar w/ Steeda billet endlinks
Control Arms Steeda adjustable third-link, Steeda billet aluminum lowers, and Steeda lower trailing arm relocation brackets
Brakes Steeda/Baer six-piston calipers w/15-inch crossed-drilled and slotted rotors
Wheels HRE Monoblock P40, 20x11-inch
Tires Nitto NT05 315/35-20
Chassis Stiffening Steeda three-point framerail and torque-box brace kit