SEMA 2017: Air Design & Steeda Tune An ’18 Eco ’Stang

The SEMA Show is often associated with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The show’s halls are filled with over-the-top machinery designed to catch the eye and draw attention to the companies displaying their wares at the show. When it comes to the Mustangs on display, not all of them are show ponies. In fact, the 2018 EcoBoost Mustang collaboration from Air Design USA and Steeda offers a deft blend of form and function.

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“Traditionally, the SEMA Show is the primary venue where the aftermarket showcases new products and also their vehicle creations,” Steeda Business Development Manager Bob Adams explained. “Over the years, we have built a wide variety of vehicles that have had their debut at SEMA because the timing of the show usually coincides with new OEM model introductions and also because of the vast amount of media that attends the show.”

Air Design took the 2018 Mustang design up a notch with its own front splitter and rear diffuser, as well as its own Ford-licensed hood vents, air curtains, side scoops, and window louvers. The result is an upmarket visage accentuated by Sherwin Williams custom silver paint with black stripes.

We wanted a style that is true to our Q-Series heritage which is low, mean, and aggressive. — Bob Adams, Steeda

All the companies on site are looking to cut through the noise and have their products recognized by the industry and consumer, but for Steeda the latest Mustang offers a platform to showcase an evolving product line that began with the birth of the S550 platform in 2015.

“Quite simply to showcase the outstanding work our Steeda Product Development team has already undertaken toward improving the 2018’s performance factor…” he said. “Remember, however, this is a continuous development cycle as we always push the limits of improving performance at Steeda and will always be developing and refining performance parts for the Mustang platform.”

Underhood the EcoBoost engine is enhanced with a Steeda’s no-tune-required cold air intake as well as numerous chassis upgrades, including the strut-tower brace and upper strut mounts. Below the engine it wears a Steeda front sway bar held fast by Steeda sway bar mount kit.

Obviously Steeda is known for its chassis and suspension upgrades, but matching those offerings with the appropriate visage meant partnering with an aero outfit that could offer a different look but retain functionality.

Partners In Performance

“We always want to improve the vehicles aerodynamic factors by reducing lift, adding downforce, and improving the co-efficient of drag characteristics,” Bob said. “As an added bonus, improving the engine cooling by directing more airflow through the radiator allows for peak high-performance engine operation in hot climates and also on the track. Lastly design, as we wanted a style that is true to our Q-Series heritage which is low, mean, and aggressive.”

We’re excited to unveil never-before-seen products at SEMA. — Billy Longfellow, Air Design

To do so, Steeda dialed up a longtime partner, which happens to have no less than 11 vehicles smattered throughout this year’s SEMA Show floor.

“What an honor to build or partake in project vehicles for A-list companies such as these, especially when you’re chosen out of thousands of other qualified vendors,” said Billy Longfellow, VP of Design and Engineering at Air Design USA. “We’re excited to unveil never-before-seen products at SEMA. And, when attendees see these three vehicles together, what they’re going to see is the true DNA of our California designs.”

In back, this EcoBoost plants the power to the Pirellis thanks to a Steeda rear sway bar, a Steeda billet aluminum integral/vertical Link, and a host of IRS upgrades, including an alignment kit, diff bushings, and an IRS brace.

The coupling of Airdesign’s functional but clean aerodynamic upgrades was a natural pairing for the two companies, as they share many of the same goals and aesthetics.

“I have known Dario for many years, Steeda is also a great customer for Airdesign USA for F150 and Mustang accessories,” Billy said. “Airdesign USA is mostly exterior body kit designs, so to team up with Steeda for suspension and performance was a no-brainer.”

The result is a turbo-four Mustang that is sleek enough to stand out from the crowd, but whose underpinnings are completely revamped for a higher level of performance.

Power To The Pavement

“Our collaboration on the 2018 Mustang began in earnest as soon as the vehicle was introduced. It was at that time, we reviewed the changes made to the car from every perspective. As part of our continuing product development cycle, we are constantly setting the bar by designing, engineering, and developing new performance products in an effort to improve a vehicle’s performance,” Bob said. “Think of it as an ‘evolution of performance.’”

The company equipped this Air Design-styled EcoBoost Mustang with a laundry list of suspension and chassis components to improve its handling.

Inside the mods are far more reserved than the upgrades to the exterior and underpinnings. Driver and passenger are held in place by Recaro seats, while everyone in the cabin can enjoy the Kicker audio system additions.

Airdesign/Steeda EcoBoost Mods


Block: Stock

Crankshaft: Stock

Rods: Stock

Pistons: Stock

Camshafts: Stock

Cylinder Head: Stock

Intake: Stock w/ Steeda Pro-Flow Mustang EcoBoost CAI and Steeda throttle body spacer

Power Adder: Stock turbocharger

Fuel System: Stock

Exhaust: Ford Performance by Borla exhaust


Engine Management: Stock

Ignition: Stock

Front Suspension

K-member: Stock

A-arms: Stock w/ Steeda bump steer kit and Steeda sway bar

Struts: Steeda adjustable coilovers w/ Steeda front camber plates

Springs: Steeda coilover

Brakes: Wilwood six-piston calipers w/ 15-inch drilled and slotted rotors

Wheels: Forgiato Fratello ECL, 21×9.5-inch

Tires: Pirelli P Zero, 275/35ZR-21

Rear Suspension

Control Arms: Stock w/ Steeda billet aluminum integral/vertical link kit, Steeda rear camber kit, and Steeda sway bar

Shocks: Steeda adjustable w/ Steeda billet rear shock mount

Springs: Steeda adjustable

Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers w/ 12.9-inch drilled and slotted rotors

Wheels: Forgiato Fratello ECL, 21×10.5-inch rear

Tires: Pirelli P Zero, 295/35ZR-21

“We really haven’t deviated from our tried and proven product development cycle for the 2018 Mustang — we haven’t had to,” Bob said. “As part of our ongoing efforts, we completely assess all new models by looking at virtually everything from spring rates, vehicle weight and weight balance, suspension movement and settings, engine performance dynamics, intake flow, and exhaust flow, along with how well the vehicle performs on the street, track, and under extreme/harsh driving conditions.”

So, Steeda doesn’t just carry all of its existing parts over without taking the factory’s platform refinements into consideration.

“There really isn’t one single factor that we overlook — because we can’t,” Bob added. “With this development cycle, we take a clean sheet approach that leverages the 30 continuous years of experience we have at Steeda of making the Mustang perform at its optimum level. In addition, we also leverage our ISO 9001:2008 expertise to ensure that the highest quality and manufacturing standards are in every performance part we manufacture.”

And they do manufacture a lot of parts for the modern Mustang platform as demonstrated on this example. Having a robust product line is great, but there is method to the part number madness. That method is creating a harmonious recipe.

“One commonly overlooked point is the compatibility of the performance parts. Many times performance enthusiasts will embark on a ‘shopping basket’ approach when up-fitting their cars with parts from a variety of different manufacturers. The issue with doing that is often times, one part from one manufacture may ‘fight’ another part from a different manufacturer,” Bob said. “In other words, to a certain degree they may be non-compatible with each other, resulting in a non-optimized performance. At Steeda, we strategically engineer each of our products to work together in perfect harmony with each other all with the goal of optimizing overall vehicle performance without sacrificing drivability.”

Total Package

Speaking of performance and driveability, the Airdesign/Steeda 2018 EcoBoost Mustang is equipped with the latter company’s induction upgrade. This free-flowing unit will improve power without any electronic tomfoolery.

“The tuning of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine was easy for us on the 2018 because of the extensive work we have already done on that specific engine,” Bob said. “And as an added bonus, our Steeda Cold Air kit requires no specialized tune for achieving its optimum level of performance — it is ready out of the box for maximum performance across the entire RPM band.”

Behind the Forgiato Fratello ECL wheels and Pirellit tires are Wilwood brakes plumbed with Steeda braided stainless steel lines.

“From a pure ‘raw performance’ perspective it is the handling. Power means nothing without traction and control,” Bob said. “The proprietary Steeda G-Trac suspension components allow the power to be delivered to the pavement whether you are launching hard from a stoplight, blasting down the freeway, or taking that perfect bend in the road at high speed. It is being able to take a corner faster than you thought possible, having the ability for the car go where you point it without surprise, and most importantly, being able to maintain proper vehicle control.”

While we didn’t get to drive this Mustang, the idea of better aerodynamics, better handling, and better performance is just what we are looking for in a SEMA stallion.

If the Airdesign upgrades catch your fancy, you can expect pricing and part numbers for these parts on the company’s official site soon. Meanwhile, Steeda is locked and loaded with all these 2018 parts on its site right here.

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About the author

Steve Turner

As Executive Editor of FordNXT and Ford Muscle, Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge to Power Automedia. He has covered the world of Ford performance for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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