The History of Steeda
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Steeda, it is very important that we thank all of the customers and performance enthusiasts worldwide who have supported Steeda for the past three decades. It is because of our customers that we have been able to design, engineer, and innovate aftermarket components that provide a new level of performance and excitement to the Ford Mustang, Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, and F-Series. What most people don’t realize is that Steeda’s Ford roots don’t just go back three decades – but actually three generations.
Steeda’s President & Founder, Dario Orlando, was born in Detroit, Michigan to his father Domenico and mother Alice. At that time, Dario didn’t realize it but he was born into a family that had it’s Ford automotive roots dating back to 1910 when his Grandfather, Al Valeria, started his career just a short seven years after Henry Ford initially founded The Ford Motor Company. Following in his father’s footsteps, Domenico began working at Ford as a broomsweep after WWII. In a quest to advance himself within the company, he took mechanical drafting classes in his spare time. His natural talent and hard work ethic became readily apparent at Ford, because he soon found himself rapidly advancing through the corporate ranks and he found himself working at Ford’s Dearborn Advanced Design Studio alongside Alex Tremulis. While Domenico had many major design accomplishments into some of the most iconic Ford vehicles of the era, some of his most favorite were his designs of the interior components of the 1964 ½ Mustang, and his contribution to the Ford GT40 Mark IV’s overall aerodynamic design.
As a result of the recognition of those major accomplishments, Domenico was offered a position as Advanced Designer at Chris Craft Boats, and the Orlando family found themselves moving from the Motor City to South Florida, where Dario’s unsurprising passion for automobiles and racing really took off. Dario’s free time, if not spent working, was spent wrenching away, learning everything he could about cars. Mechanics, suspension, aerodynamics, you name it, he was eager to learn anything and everything automotive. This overriding passion eventually led to the opening of Dario’s Foreign Car Service in Pompano Beach in 1974 – 14 years before Steeda would come to life!
This business venture not only allowed him to continue learning about, modifying, and repairing cars but also to pursue his racing exploits. Driving Datsuns, MGs, and Sprites, racing would open a major door for Dario. After competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring, entering the 24 Hours of Daytona, and winning a number of SCCA Championships, Ford Motor Company approached Dario in the early 1980s to be a test and promotional driver for the Merkur XR4TI program. With proven performance driving skills and a comprehensive mechanical aptitude, he contributed to the development of the car’s suspension dynamics and engine performance, establishing meaningful relationships with Ford and the Merkur’s German engineers along the way.
In 1988, Steeda, then an established tennis equipment manufacturing company was purchased as it provided the foundation to grow upon for what is today the leader in aftermarket Ford performance products specializing in the engineering and manufacturing of parts for the Ford Mustang, Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, and Ford Trucks.
The company’s first step was a limited production of high-performance Steeda Mustangs, as well as a small variety of aftermarket performance equipment for enthusiasts at the time. Through the years, the designing, engineering and development of “best in class” performance parts at Steeda Autosports has become legendary. Nobody in the industry today can even come close to the level of perfection and performance that Steeda has instilled into the vast array of performance parts they manufacture under strict ISO 9001-2008 guidelines. With a product portfolio that has grown to include thousands of parts, Steeda has grown to be the single best source for performance parts for Ford Motor Company vehicles in the world today.
In 2007, Steeda doubled down and furthered its capital investment in the USA with the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility in Valdosta, GA. – complimenting the original Pompano Beach FL World Headquarters. This all-new 100,000 sq. ft. facility, a benchmark in the automotive industry today, has an extensive array of the industries best manufacturing and testing equipment available, all critical assets to the manufacturing of our performance parts and accessories. By strategically co-locating the Steeda Design, Engineering, Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Distribution facilities all under one massive roof – we are able to operate in a far more efficient and cohesive manner – all here in the USA. Our plans for the Valdosta campus do not end there as we are in the process of planning and developing a 1.2-mile test track, brake test area, and skid pad to aid in the continued development of the best performing aftermarket Ford performance parts in the world.
The history of Steeda has a very rich and rewarding past that reflects on our proud heritage and the commitment we make each and every day to our performance customers. At Steeda, Speed Matters is much more than just a slogan, it is the mantra by which we operate every day.