Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
October 8, 2018

For any company to make it 30 years in business takes a lot of ingenuity, expertise, and cutting edge thinking. The most important part to that longevity is staying current. These days, no one cares what you did yesterday, they want to know what you’re doing tomorrow. People’s attention spans have shrunk, and social media makes it even tougher because everything has to be new from one day to another. If it was posted yesterday, it’s old news.

Steeda Autosports has made staying current its business model for 30 years now. From way back in the Fox days to its current rundown of Q-series offerings, Steeda has maintained its place in the Mustang game thanks to cars like this 2018 Mustang GT. Dubbed the “Silver Bullet” by Steeda’s Scott Boda, Director of Engineering and Manufacturing, the car is the first naturally aspirated 2018 Mustang GT in the 10s. But what may surprise you is the route the Silver Bullet took to get there.

First off, when most people hear the Steeda name, they don’t think of drag racing. The Silver Bullet is changing that thought. Second, and probably why most people think that, most Steeda builds have centered on road race type #20 cars. Third, after its road race-type prowess, Steeda is mostly known for its serialized street cars and aftermarket performance components.

However, everything has come together on the Silver Bullet, and what also might surprise you is the relatively short list of components it has taken to get the car into the 10-second zone. “In all my years in this industry I have never seen a street Mustang with so little invested in it go so quickly down a dragstrip,” says Glen Vitale, Steeda’s V.P. of Operations. Glen, and Steeda President Dario Orlando are the ones responsible for providing Scott the car in the first place to showcase the company’s Hardcore line of automobiles and drag racing components.

Dario and Glen approached Scott about doing a Steeda-branded drag car for its Hardcore line, and it was decided to go back to the company’s roots by getting the lowest-optioned 2018 Mustang GT, but with the new for 2018, 10R80 automatic transmission. The fact Scott asked for an automatic took Dario and Glen by surprise, but Scott reasoned the new 10R80 is superior to a stick when it comes to hitting the next gear. “You can’t do it quicker than today’s technology with that 10R80,” Scott says.

Scott tells us the car features Steeda’s ‘Stop the Hop’ package (PN 555-2129), which includes an IRS subframe bushing support system, IRS subframe alignment kit, billet aluminum vertical links, IRS subframe support braces, and adjustable rear toe links. Steeda’s Stop the Hop is designed to reduce wheel hop first and foremost, but it also improves handling and traction, on-car toe adjustability, improve suspension compliance, align the car’s subframe to the chassis, and limit IRS movement, all without any additional NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness).

To finish out the Silver Bullet’s suspension, Scott and the crew added Steeda’s Pro-Action adjustable front coilover struts (PN 555-8170) with a drag spring ratio (PN 555-8170-125), Pro-Action rear shocks (PN 555-8156), rear drag springs (PN 555-8232), billet rear camber arms (PN 555-4127), IRS urethane differential inserts (PN 555-4443), and billet rear shock mounts (PN 555-8152).

Other drivetrain mods include Baer Drag Race brakes, Race Star Recluse Black chrome wheels in 17x4.5 up front and 17x10.5 out back, Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR radials up front and 305/45 ET Street R’s in the back, a QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft, and Ford Performance half shafts and a 4.09 gear.

The Silver Bullet carries historical Steeda livery, with sidewinder graphics and Q500 callouts. Ordered as a base Mustang GT prior to being given the Steeda treatment, the stock wheels are long gone, replaced by Race Star Recluse black chrome wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber. As you can see by the photos, the Mickey Thompson ET Street R’s do their best work at the track. On the street, they just leave black marks, even on Steeda’s “test track.”

Of course, this car wouldn’t be in the 10s without a few horsepower upgrades, so looking under the hood you find a Steeda cold air intake, which at the time of our photos, was fresh out of the R&D room, a Cobra Jet intake with a dual 65mm throttle-body, American Racing Headers full-length headers and X-pipe, a Steeda custom exhaust, and a custom tune to go with VP Racing Fuels’ C85 in the tank.

Under the hood, the 2018’s engine has been treated to a Ford Performance Cobra Jet intake, Steeda’s Hot-Off-The-Press cold air intake, and American Racing Headers full-length headers with a corresponding X-pipe and custom Steeda exhaust.

The first time at the track post-mods the Silver Bullet ran low-11s, and even though those times were surprising, Scott and the Steeda crew kept after it, with the car responding favorably to each tweak of the tune. It responded so well that it was the first naturally aspirated 2018 Mustang GT in the 10s. The car ran its first 10-second pass on February 24, 2018. Even in the August South Georgia heat, Scott was able to run a 10.63 at 130 mph with a 1.57 short-time. And that is without any real effort to get weight out of the car. Sure, all of the Steeda components, and brakes and wheels certainly help, and the interior has been treated to Corbeau seats and a CM Components rear seat delete. Still, the last time Scott weighed the car it was still over 3,500 pounds, without driver.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, in cool fall air, Scott and the Steeda crew hope to further improve on those numbers. However, they’re not going to solely rely on Mother Nature, Scott will also experiment with different rear gear ratios in an attempt to lower the Silver Bullet’s short-time. Right now, the car is shifting into 2nd gear before the 60-foot mark, and going through the traps in 7th gear. Whew!!! Really, seventh gear?!?! Scott hopes a lower-numerically gear ratio will reward him with a tenth or two, but Scott also plans to further explore the car’s tune in an attempt to lower its elapsed times.

The only real race weight concessions inside the interior would be the addition of Corbeau seats and a CM Components rear seat delete. The inside of the Silver Bullet looks way different than Steeda’s road race cars, which are very Spartan, and purpose-built. The Silver Bullet’s insides are so welcoming; you would never think this was a 10-second car.

For those of us that have been around long enough to remember the Fox days, to run 10s with a largely stock engine, and without a power adder is simply amazing. “This is one of the best times for gearheads with these 2018 and newer Mustangs,” Glen says. Not only does the Steeda crew hope to stay current in the ever changing Mustang performance climate, it hopes to keep the Silver Bullet out in front of the competition, as well.

Ain’t technology great?!

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