There is one question that haunts every warm-blooded American muscle car owner.
And that is, Can I take him? Most Shelby GT500 owners pride themselves on being able to answer this hypothetical question with a mild degree of certainty that yes, they probably can whip whoever pulls alongside.
Andy Speranza fits the mold. He has taken an ’08 GT500 and built it into a sick machine that could probably break the land speed record for a milk run, while also dominating at the track or any other late-night adventures. Let’s face it--you don’t get the nickname "King Snake" for coming in second.
So what exactly does it take to be coined "King Snake?" Is having a 10-second, daily driven street machine enough? Not according to Andy, whose ultimate goal was a GT500 that he could drive to the track and run consistently, all while still maintaining a reasonable level of streetability.
Like so many enthusiasts, Andy became a diehard Mustang lover at a young age. It’s safe to say that his older brother paved the way for Andy long before he was old enough to drive. The elder Speranza destroyed T-5s like they were going out of style, and he made quite the impression on young Andy, who was fiending for horsepower of his own. When my older brother gifted me a rare ’86 5.0 Mustang GT--the sickness began, Andy explains. It was the four-eyed Fox-body in rare Dark Slate (only 12 cars were produced with this color) that sucked him down the slippery slope of modifying Mustangs.
Over the next couple of decades, Andy went through his fair share of powerful ponies until he was ready to own the baddest Stang Ford had built--the GT500. He was certain that no Mustang GT, or anything else, was going to curb the craving he had for tons of raw power. The GT500 build started with mild intentions, but quickly spiraled out of control. Instead of building a well-behaved street snake, Andy went full force into trying to achieve greatness on the street and the track.
The project started with the ultimate bolt-on for any boost lover--a Kenne Bell 2.8H twin-screw supercharger running 20 psi. Bringing this beast to life were all of the proper supporting mods, such as a Kenne Bell 75mm dual-blade throttle bodyone large enough to eat small animals and childrena Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump, 72-lb/hr injectors, American Racing Headers long-tubes, off-road X-style exhaust, and Spintech mufflers finishing it off. As if this wasn’t enough, he added a dry 75hp shot of nitrous to the mix, creating a venomous cocktail of boost and juice. Fueling this vicious serpent are gallons of VP C-16.
Andy knew this project had to be right if he was going to earn the title King Snake in South Florida, so he solicited the help of experienced SCT calibrator Jon Lund to get his baby tuned properly.
Getting all of this power to the ground doesn’t come easy without the correct suspension and drivetrain components, so Andy lightened the nose with a BMR K-member, then added QA1 adjustable front and rear shocks, Steeda upper and lower billet control arms, a BMR antiroll bar, and Eibach springs. He also addressed a known weak point of the GT500--the driveshaft--switching out the stocker for a DSS aluminum version with a BMR safety loop. As unbelievable as it sounds, Andy wanted to keep the stock clutch and six-speed transmission to try and reach his goal of 9s on the track before having to upgrade.
After integrating the horsepower and the suspension, he took the Snake to Palm Beach International Raceway. He banged the gears, running a blistering-fast e.t of 10.01 at 141.58 mph with a 1.50 60-foot on 17-inch CCW wheels wrapped in M&H Racemaster drag radials. Let’s not forget to mention the driver mod, which is an essential key to driving a beast like this nearly into 9-second territory. The car is absolutely awesome to drive. It boils the tires in Third gear and there’s nothing like it. Andy boasted.
Pass after pass, Andy was craving a 9- second timeslip but he couldn’t break out of the 10s no matter what he did. He realized it was time to either increase the boost, the nitrous, or both! Despite knowing an overdose of either could end badly, Andy upped the nitrous shot to 100 and made a white-knuckle pass down the track. Unfortunately, he still didn’t reach his goal. The second pass on the 100 shot proved to be too much stress for the engine, resulting in pure carnage. "After 200-plus passes and sending the rods through the side of the block, I thought to myself, This engine owes me nothing--time to upgrade!" Andy exclaimed.
He immediately ordered a Ford Racing short-block with forged internals to keep any potential failures at bay. He also switched to the Kenne Bell liquid-cooled 3.6L supercharger, this time running 25 psi. Steve Lee at Thunder Autosports handled the install of the engine and supercharger, and once again, Jon Lund brought it all together. With the increase in boost level and recalling the bad memory of a grenaded engine, he decided not to install the nitrous. Andy felt confident he could achieve the 9-second objective he had been after for so long with boost only.
Andy was determined to eclipse his previous best time and dip into the 9s. All of the conditions were right in South Florida that day as he blazed down the track, launching with a 1.47 60-foot time that ended with a best time of 9.99 at 139.92 mph. Andy had finally reached his goal of owning a 9-second, full-weight, six-speed street Stang with a stock clutchquite the impressive achievement. I drove the car to the track, made back-to-back runs, officially ran 9s, and drove it home. Andy proclaimed.
What’s next for Andy and his seriously fast GT500? Reinstalling the juice and shooting for a mid-9-second pass is definitely on his to-do list. We’re confident we haven’t seen the last of Mr. Speranza. Look for him crawling the streets of Palm Beach County--beware of King Snake.