Brian Black and Tony Lanahm believe in striking when the iron's hot, capitalizing on the opportunity ahead of them. The Longwood, Florida, residents grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit. Brian and his brother Robbie were partners in Black's Automotive, a performance car dealership in Longwood specializing in Mustangs, with a slant toward Saleen models.
Brian has even owned a few Saleens himself, like the Beryllium S281 Extreme we featured a few years back. That S281E is extremely rare, and that's what drove Brian to get it. From his obsession with all things Saleen, Brian was able to forge a relationship with another automotive entrepreneur in Steve Saleen.
Even through all changes of the last few years, Brian has remained a staunch Steve Saleen supporter. So when Brian sold out of Black's Automotive to start SuperCars of America (www.supercarsofamerica.com) with Tony, they chose Steve Saleen's SMS Supercars as their ride-along partner. The Mustang you see on these pages, EU-01, is the result of Brian and Tony's entrepreneurial spirit mixed with an SMS Signature Series 302 Mustang.
Partnering in SuperCars of America, the duo's goal is taking good, old-fashioned American horsepower to compete against Europe's best on their own turf. "Tony's automotive background and experience is truly second to none," Brian says. "Having Tony on this team increases our chances of success exponentially. Every decision has been made between the both of us."
The exterior of the '11 SMS 302 is left stock by SuperCars of America. Why mess with a goo
Knowing the Europeans would have home-field advantage over many automotive offerings, Brian and Tony chose to stick with what they know ... as a starting point, they chose Steve Saleen, specifically SMS' 302 Mustang. To bring a different flavor to European shores, the SuperCars of America EU-series Mustang would not only bring an SMS Mustang to its market, but a twin-turbocharged SMS Mustang. Brian and Tony needed to differentiate the EU-series from SMS offerings, and the twin turbochargers proved to be the perfect addition.
For those trying to get a grasp on this car, let's break it down. The SMS Mustang 302 is an '11 GT at the core, which means it boasts the new-for-'11 5.0-liter engine, which has enthusiasts stoked. Now let's add to that its SMS Supercars package, of which dreams are made. We all know Steve Saleen knows how to package a car, but wait, there's more ... on top of the SMS Mustang's 440 hp, SuperCars of America throws in an Exile Turbo Systems twin-turbocharger system. Can you say big steam?
As with everything that seems too good to be true, there is a catch. You and I won't be able to buy the car turnkey from SuperCars of America-unless we move to Europe, which all of a sudden looks really attractive.
Steve Saleen gave SuperCars of America his blessing for this upgrade, but based on the premise that the cars would only be sold in Europe. That's understandable since the EU-series would step on the toes of SMS' own supercharged offering. However, if you would want to, say, buy an '11 SMS Mustang 302 and send it to Lamotta Performance in Longwood, Florida, for an Exile Turbo Systems twin-turbo kit, that's your business.
What does Steve Saleen think of all this? Truthfully, Brian was nervous about talking to Steve about his idea. "We're proud of the SMS cars," Steve Saleen said. "We've always supported pushing the envelope, so it'll be interesting to see how well the car is received and how well the car performs overall. The chassis is capable of handling the power increases."
On whether SMS would support a twin-turbo offering here in the states, Steve has learned to never say never, so it is possible that if the car does really well, SMS could follow up its own models with a twin-turbo version.
On the inside, the SMS Supercars interior is unchanged ... and why not, it's spectacular.
"We're focused on our naturally aspirated and supercharged SMS cars right now, and at the beginning of 2011, we'll be introducing a 351 version," Steve explained. He says Brian and Tony's undertaking will give SMS the ability to judge reaction and proceed accordingly.
If the car is indeed successful, it would have to go through the certification process like all of his SMS cars, which could be a lengthy process. However, he is maintaining an open mind to the idea. Like us, Steve is thrilled at the automotive choices at our disposal.
"Technology is really a wonderful thing," he says.
Yes, it is, and so is having a twin-turbocharged '11 SMS Mustang. We're all about making big steam, and SuperCars of America is speaking our language.
I am always asked if I was able to drive the cars I shoot. In this case, I did drive the SuperCars of America EU-01. Yes, I know, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it-might as well be me.
Up top, there's not much to see here. This is the mechanical equivalent to a mullet. It's
Yes, this car is unbelievable. You're a rock star the second you slide behind the wheel. Everyone sees you coming and going, and they either love you or hate you. On our short trip from Lamotta Performance to our photo-shoot location, we received two thumbs-up and one thumb-down. The thumb-down was from an import driver, so we know he was hatin'. He must have known the EU series is quiet, smooth, mild-mannered, and insanely fast.
The car is not animated or out of control-think mellow Jim Carrey, but in an automotive arena. Even a relaxed Ace Ventura is going to be funny, but maybe not as outta control. The car is fast for sure, but with the SMS suspension and chassis improvements, it's a civilized brutality. It's so quiet and composed, you don't realize how fast you're going until you either look at the speedo or out the side window and see telephone poles whizzing by.
I haven't driven many European cars, but those I have driven boast a smoothness, a refinement. The SMS Supercars/SuperCars of America EU-series brings that refinement to the table, as well. Even with over 550 hp and 580 lb-ft of torque on tap, it doesn't spin in First or Second gear, which is also a characteristic of Euro-cars. The EU-series simply squats and moves.
Also, the car absorbs the road's bumps and bruises with ease. This is a result of Ford's improved chassis construction and SMS' many years of building performance vehicles for the street. Both have learned how to build a car you can drive every day, and not regret it the next morning.
This is one ride that's worth a trip to Europe.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain Block
Exile Turbo Systems twin-turbo kit
Stock with 46-lb/hr injectors
SMS Supercars custom X-shape crossover
Stock Getrag MT82 six-speed
8.8 w/3.55 gears
Stock with custom SCT tune from Michael Schimmack
Suspension And Chassis
SMS Supercars Signature series, 14-in rotors, four-piston calipers
SMS Supercars five-spoke, 20x9-in
Pirelli P-Zero 275/35/20
SMS Supercars Watt's link
SMS Supercars five-spoke, 20x10-in
Pirelli P-Zero 275/40/20