The thrash is on. Steeda's crew is working in single-minded unison to prep a fleet of its cool Fords for a media drive at Moroso Motorsports Park. The headlining act is the '06 Steeda Q-a 500hp, 530-lb-ft street screamer that tops the Steeda lineup with a $72,000 price tag [(954) 960-0774; www.steeda.com]. Parts are the moving force at Steeda, but they use these cars to develop parts and satisfy growing numbers of Steeda fans with complete cars. The company expects to sell only double-digits of this animal, but the fact that they can build these cars proves the parts on them are worthy.
I'm pacing in front of a mammoth building on the sprawling Steeda campus waiting for the just-finished Q to get a quick bath so Patrick Hill and I can try our hand at some artsy photos inside the Steeda facility. Finally, the Q rounds the corner, and behind the wheel is the driving force of Steeda, Dario Orlando. "Hop in," he says. "I want to take you for a ride." I'd never accept that offer from a stranger, but I've known Dario since 1994-and I still got in the car with him!
I close the door and Dario pulls slowly up to the main street. The Q exhibits the manners of a stock Mustang. The traffic clears, Dario eases out, then drops the hammer. I'm planted back in the seat and the only thing moving quicker than the Steeda Q is the grin forming on my face. Dario turns around to head back to the campus and informs me that First gear is all but useless on street tires. He pulls out, gets it into Second, and drops the hammer. I'm grinning again, and the words of Magnuson Products marketing man Bob Roes ring in my head. "It feels like a warmed-up '03 Cobra," Bob had said. I always take marketing and sales types with a grain of salt, but I have to say Bob was right on the money.
If you've followed the Steeda line for a while, you likely know they've long employed centrifugal supercharging, so the latest Q car is moving in a new direction with the Eaton-based MagnaCharger underhood. The easily packaged, instant-boost Roots blowers have long been a favorite of Ford, which used them on the last Lightning and Cobra. The OEM popularity and linear boost from 1,200 to 6,000 rpm must have been alluring for the Steeda team, and I certainly liked what I felt. The beauty of the positive-displacement superchargers is you can get into the boost for a quick thrill and get right back out. In many cases you can forgo downshifting when you're ready to pass. Interestingly, this fifth-gen M112 blower features an internal bypass valve, which is said to reduce parasitic drag.
Speaking of the drags, the day after we photographed the Q it was off to Moroso Motorsports Park, which features a road course, a dragstrip, a skid pad, and more. The first order of business was to see what the new Q could do on the 1320, and Steeda's own Scott Boda laid down a low-12 before giving up the seat to a certain magazine hot shoe from our company's New Jersey outpost. After a few shots, he got the car into the 11.70s at 120 mph, which impressed me. Sadly, time was of the essence and it was off to the skid pad to watch the naturally aspirated Steeda and a pair of Foci do their thing before I could even ask about embarrassing myself on the dragstrip.
Once on the road course, I had a blast driving several other vehicles around the familiar Moroso course. I'm always left wanting a little more time to practice on the road course, but I had to get behind the wheel of the Q at least once. The Steeda team wanted us to take it easy on the car as it was headed to the Motor City for a big showcase, so I couldn't even drive it up to my modest limits. But I've driven enough Steeda Mustangs to know how the car would feel at speed. The suspension gives a bit, then digs in and goes right where you want it when you squeeze on the power, which I did for a few short blasts on the straights. Likewise, the big 14-inch brakes would come in handy with all that power on tap, but I wasn't about to push too hard and be the guy who wrecked the new Q.
In short, Steeda has another way-cool car on its roster, and if a big-power specialty car is on your wish list, it's definitely one to consider. The Steeda Q has an easy-going street demeanor, but big power and predictable handling are on tap any time you need them, and it looks good too. Of course if you don't want to go all the way to the top, Steeda has more modest naturally aspirated and V-6 packages, and we're sure they'd be happy to just sell you a few parts. The bottom line is, they know how to make the parts and pick the right ones to make the car.
Horse Sense: Like our former associate publisher, you might wonder where the Q-car terminology originated. According to the popular Wilkipedia.org online encyclopedia, "The Q-ship or Q-boat was an attack vessel disguised as a civilian ship. It was used against German U-boats during World War I primarily by Britain and during World War II primarily by the United States. In the United Kingdom the vessels chosen for this service were code-named Q-ships by the Admiralty, but they were also known as Decoy Vessels, Special Service Ships or Mystery Ships. The Germans had similar ships called merchant raiders." So Steeda's Q cars are basically race cars with street-car personalities. Got it?
Engine And Drivetrain
Displacement 5.0 liters
Rotating Assembly Forged crankshaft, forged connecting rods, Diamond Pistons
Heads Stock Three-Valve
Throttle Body 62mm Twin-Bore
Mass Air Steeda/SCT Big Air
Fuel System Twin in-tank pumps
Exhaust Steeda axle-back system
Engine Management Stock Spanish Oak with Steeda/SCT tune
Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension K-member Stock
Control arms Stock w/Steeda relocation kit
Springs Steeda Sport
Struts Tokico D-spec
Caster/Camber Steeda camber adjusters
Brakes Steeda 14-in four-piston
Wheels 18x9.5-in Steeda Ultralite '06
Tires Nitto 555
Rear Suspension Springs Steeda Sport Shocks Tokico D-spec Control arms Steeda billet lower arms
Traction Devices Steeda adjustable Panhard bar, Steeda rear sway bar
Brakes Steeda 13-in
Wheels 18x9.5-in Steeda Ultralite '06
Tires Nitto 555
Chassis Stiffening Steeda strut-tower brace, Steeda rear shock-tower brace, Steeda three-point framerail and torque-box brace
We thought we had a great...
We thought we had a great job, but imagine having a garage like this at your office. Steeda's been building cool cars to develop cool parts for years, and the latest car at the top of the Steeda ladder is the '06 Steeda Q-a 500hp, 5.0-powered street star that goes as fast as it looks. Close your eyes and you might think you were in a modern-day version of the popular Terminator Cobra.
You're looking at the first...
You're looking at the first MagnaCharger for the Three-Valve 4.6 to operate out of captivity. By the time you read this, they should be readily available from Magnuson Products [(805) 289-0044; www.magnacharger.com] dealers. Possibly the most elegant application of positive-displacement supercharging we've seen yet, the Three-Valve MagnaCharger keeps the throttle body quite close to its stock location, but it replaces the plastic factory manifold with an aluminum, air-to-water-intercooler-equipped piece topped with a fifth-generation Eaton M112 hybrid Roots supercharger (like the unit employed on the GT 500). MagnaCharger is promising a 125-plus-horsepower gain on a stock Three-Valve, but the 5.0 modular in the Steeda Q is anything but stock with forged rods, a forged crank, Diamond Pistons, 60-lb/hr fuel injectors, and a custom Steeda/SCT tune.
Like the Ultra-Lite hood,...
Like the Ultra-Lite hood, Steeda's competition rear wing is designed with functionality in mind. While it certainly gives the car a big personality and sends import tuners scurrying to enlarge their wings, the Steeda piece is designed to provide some on-track downforce at speed. Since the car was headed off to Dearborn for the top dogs at Ford to check out, we couldn't drive it fast enough around the Moroso road course to need the wing, but with the power on tap at an instant and the typical compliant, but grippy, Steeda handling traits we could see the car going fast enough that you'd want the rear end to stay where it should.
We already mentioned the new...
We already mentioned the new front valance on the Q, but it's more than a pretty face. It's a lightweight fascia with functional brake ducts that can be plumbed to feed cooling air to the front brakes. Those wheels are Steeda's own 19x9.5-inch Ultra-Lites backed up by the company's four-piston 14-inch brakes. During our time in the Steeda cars, they wore a variety of tires from Goodyear, BFGoodrich (drag radials), and Nitto. Apparently the production cars will wear Nitto 555 rubber, with optional 20-inch wheels and 275/35 rubber.
In recent years, Steeda has...
In recent years, Steeda has made a big push into appearance products to complement its performance line. It shows inside the Q, with the color-keyed leather-upgrade package; but the billet accents-such as the new S197 speaker covers-really stand out. There's just enough shiny stuff in the cockpit to breathe life into it, but not enough to be garish. The billet shifter handle is, of course, attached to Steeda's well-known Tri-Ax billet shifter, which takes on a weightier personality in the S197 than it did in the earlier cars.
We were so fixated on all...
We were so fixated on all the other toys, we nearly overlooked Dario Orlando's personal car-the physical manifestation of Steeda's more attainable naturally aspirated package, which goes for around $36,000. While not as loaded as its supercharged sibling, the Torch Red Q still lays down 350 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque thanks to a Steeda cold-air kit, after-cat exhaust, underdrive pulleys, and a tune. Although it didn't have the big engine or blower package, it looked the part with lots of appearance mods, and it had the big brakes and all the Steeda G-Trac handling bits. As such, we saw it lay down more than a g, as read on a G-Tech meter on the dry skidpad. It's a daily driver that can give you open-track thrills whenever you ask.