Team MM&FF
March 2, 2005

Last month we told you about the mean and nasty collection of IRS-suspended, six-speed-equipped '03/'04 SVT Cobras dubbed the "Production" class at the MM&FF Cobra shootout ("Six-Speed Slaughterfest," p. 62). Just because the Cobras were labeled "Production," it didn't stop the contestants from running amazingly fast. Jay Knott was the undisputed winner after he laid down the smack with a jaw-dropping 9.85 at 142 mph. That's an incredible feat considering the IRS and factory six-gun gearjammer were in place. This month, we're kicking up the heat factor by featuring the other half of our Cobra shootout-the Modified class.

The engine rules were identical to the Production class, meaning it was "run whatcha brung"-as long as you packed a Four-Valve modular engine. Larger blower? No problem. Nitrous? Ported heads and cams? No problem.

So what's the difference between the classes? Well, the Modified class is designed for Cobras that have a live rear axle and/or automatic transmission replacing the factory six-speed/IRS combo. A traditional, stock-style setup normally found under Mustangs is required, however, as ladder bars and racing-style four-links are strictly prohibited. That leaves competitors with a wide-open set of rules to modify their cars.

The shootout was by invitation only, and we selected a wide range of cars that featured many different combinations. So, in one sense it was a shootout, but it was also a showcase of Stangs, builders, and combinations. Everything was represented, from Kenne Bell blowers with loads of nitrous to stock blower combinations. This provides a wide perspective on what it takes to run in the 10s-and even in the 9s-with one of SVT's best-ever products.

Before the first car turned a tire we knew we were in for a wild show thanks to the great track preparation by the Englishtown track crew. The surface was sticky and the weather was awesome. As we do in all MM&FF shootouts, we weighed every car and provided drivers ample cooldown periods so the best times could be produced. These weren't gutted race cars. They were all great examples of real Cobras that the average person can relate to. Just about all the participants drive their cars on the streets frequently. As wild as some of the performances may seem, a lot of the modifications can be easily duplicated. Believe us, we were all over each car like a fat kid on a plate of cupcakes.

By the end of the day, it was clear that SVT had come up with an amazing machine. The Cobra is built with the best parts and can withstand enough boost and nitrous to run nines. We hope you enjoy the results as there were some outstanding performances and diverse combinations. We only wish we could have invited more participants. But don't worry, this is one shootout we'll be doing again and again.

Weighing In
Richard Lelsz3,352 lbs
Sean Kelly3,618 lbs
Don Walsh3,732 lbs
Bob Clayton3,634 lbs
Jim D'Amore3,962 lbs
Chuck Riley3,740 lbs

1st PLACE
Richard Lelsz
9.43/146.34 mph

Coming into the shootout, we knew Richard Lelsz of Strictly Performance was going to be the fastest. Almost two years ago, car owner Ken Biscamp brought his then-new Cobra into Strictly with a simple set of instructions: Beat Nitrous Pete's best time and make this car the quickest '03 Cobra, period. Lelsz soaked up the challenge and took the yellow Cobra to the top of the list. (Check out "King of the Snake Pit," Nov. '03, p. 62, for the full feature on this car.) The only significant changes since the feature have been more tuning, more nitrous, and a custom intake elbow.

Lelsz's best time to date has been a 9.33 at 149 mph. He had intentions of lowering that number, but he quickly found out that leaving with more power smoked the tires-even on a killer track. He still ran an impressive 9.43 at 146.34 mph despite the traction woes. Upon returning to the shop, a set of 29x105Ws were added and Lelsz vowed to never have a traction problem again. Expect an 8-second timeslip from the King Cobra next spring.

>STRIP SPECS
Owner:Ken Biscamp
Hometown:Houston, Texas
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
All-Time Best:9.33 at 149 mph
Shootout Best:9.43 at 146 mph
Weight:3,352 lbs
Engine:281ci
Built By:Strictly Performance
Tuning:Diablo Revolution by Strictly Performance
Power Adder:Kenne Bell and custom dry-nitrous kit
Intercooler:Stock
Max Boost/Nitrous:25 psi and 250 hp
Intake Manifold:Custom by Strictly Performance/Beck Mechanical
Cylinder Heads:Ported Stock heads
Compression Ratio:8:1
Camshafts:JDM Engineering
Ignition:Stock w/Brisk spark plugs
Exhaust:Dr. Gas X-pipe, Kooks Headers, and Flowmaster mufflers
Transmission:Trans King C4
Clutch/Converter:10-in by Trans King
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.55 gears
Wheels:Bogart D-10
Tires:M/T Front Runners (F), M/T ET Drag slicks (R)
Suspension Front:Lakewood struts
Suspension Rear:Lakewood shocks, Metco control arms

2nd PLACE
Sean Kelly
9.83/137 mph

Sean Kelly uses his Cobra as a calling card for his business, M.A.S. Racing Development, and to learn more about modular performance. His original plans were to build a Renegade-style race car, but he chose to sell the rolling chassis in order to purchase this Cobra. Once the car made it into the shop, the modifications began, and Kelly has never looked back. Perhaps the most unique feature is the 2.4L Kenne Bell blower. The Kenne Bell huffer used by others in the shootout was the smaller 2.2L blower, so Kelly's was the first 2.4L we had seen in person.

Heading into the shootout, the car had run 10.09, but that was with the smaller supercharger. It took a few dyno runs at Dyno Tuned Performance in Virginia to dial in the 2.4. As it turned out, the extra power required an upgraded fuel system, and once everything was sorted out, Kelly came to Englishtown. The results were staggering as the car picked up more than two tenths and ran 9.83 at 137.72 mph. From there, Kelly tried to go a bit quicker by adjusting the tune-up, but he failed to better the 9.83 performance.

>STRIP SPECS
Owner:Sean Kelly
Hometown:Virginia Beach, Virginia
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
Previous Best:10.09 at 139 mph
Shootout Best:9.83 at 137 mph
Weight:3,618 lbs
Engine:281ci
Built By:Steen Racing
Tuning:SCT Chip by Brent Hughes
Power Adder:Kenne Bell and NOS wet-nitrous system
Intercooler:Stock
Max Boost/Nitrous:21 psi and 50 hp
Intake Manifold:Stock w/Accufab throttle body
Cylinder Heads:Stock heads
Compression Ratio:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Ignition:Stock w/Kenne Bell Boost-A-Spark
Exhaust:Mac L/T headers, Dr. Gas X-pipe, and Mac Pro-Dumps (3 in)
Transmission:Performance Automatic C4
Clutch/Converter:Neil Chance torque converter
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.73 gears
Wheels:Bogart
Tires F/R:Futura 165-R15 (F), M/T ET Drag slicks (R)
Suspension Front:AJE K-member, Lakewood 90/10 struts and coilover springs
Suspension Rear:UPR control arms, UPR antisway bar, and Lakewood shocks

3rd PLACE
Don Walsh Jr.
9.92/134 mph

Mike Matarazzo (at left in photo) has been a longtime friend of MM&FF, and when he told us about his Cobra, we just had to invite him down. He had Don Walsh Jr. (right), Pro 5.0 champion and owner of Walsh Motorsports, handle the driving chores. Actually, Matarazzo is quite the stickman, and he's not hip on driving the auto trans. That's why after the shootout the Cobra was scheduled to receive a D&D-modified six-gear and Matarazzo will take over the seat. The only changes to the car from when we first saw it was the addition of a Performance Automatic C4-making the Cobra more consistent.

What surprised us the most about this car was how close to stock the combination really was. Changes were limited to typical bolt-on components including exhaust, nitrous, and a Kenne Bell upgrade. Of course, Walsh tuned everything to perfection as they made 770 hp and a stump pulling 839 lb-ft of torque at the rear tires. On the dragstrip, that equated to a stout 9.92 at 134.8 mph. As you can see, the car gets all twisted up on the launch-a problem that will be fixed with the addition of a racing-style antisway bar. Running in the 9s is quite an accomplishment given the small amount of modifications.

>STRIP SPECS
Owner:Mike Matarazzo
Hometown:North Caldwell, New Jersey
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
All-Time Best:9.92 at 134 mph
Shootout Best:9.92 at 134 mph
Weight:3,732 lbs
Engine:281 ci
Built By:Ford Motor Company
Tuning:Diablo Revolution by Walsh Motorsports
Power Adder:Kenne Bell and NOS wet-nitrous system
Intercooler:Stock
Max Boost/Nitrous:N/A
Intake Manifold:Stock w/Accufab throttle body
Cylinder Heads:Stock
Compression Ratio:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:JBA L/T headers, MagnaFlow exhaust
Transmission:Performance Automatic C4
Clutch/Converter:PTC torque converter
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.55 gears
Wheels:Cobra R (F), Weld Draglites (R)
Tires F/R:Yokohama front and 28x10.5 M/T ET drag slicks
Suspension Front:Stock
Suspension Rear:Stock

4th PLACE
Bob Clayton
10.06/133 mph

Bob Clayton laid claim to the quickest pass of the shootout without the aid of nitrous. Using just 23 psi of boost, the red Cobra nearly blasted into the nine-second zone. As with most of the Cobras in the shootout, once again the theme was to keep the car surprisingly close to stock. Thanks to SVT, running high boost is not much of a strain on the engine. That comes by way of a great engine block, steel crank, steel rods, and forged pistons. The induction system is also geared toward a boosted application.

Clayton's car was extremely consistent and ran in the 10s each time down the track. After each run, Rick Erdman of Amazon Racing tweaked the car a little more until it was pulling cleaner and cleaner. Clayton tried hard to crack the 9-second zone, sans nitrous, but he simply ran out of track time. Running bottom 10s at 133.17 mph while hauling 3,634 pounds down the track takes horsepower. Using a simple math formula, we calculated Clayton's to be around 670 or so.

>STRIP SPECS
Owner:Bob Clayton
Hometown:Abingdon, Maryland
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
All-Time Best:10.10 at 133 mph
Shootout Best:10.10 at 133 mph
Weight:3,634 lbs
Engine:281 ci
Built By:Ford Motor Company
Tuning:Custom chip by Amazon Racing
Power Adder:Kenne Bell 2.2L blower
Intercooler:Stock
Max Boost/Nitrous:23 psi
Intake Manifold:Stock w/Accufab throttle body
Cylinder Heads:8.5:1
Compression Ratio:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Ignition:Stock and Kenne Bell
Exhaust:Borla Exhaust
Transmission:Performance Automatic C4
Clutch/Converter:PA torque converter, 5,000-stall speed
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.55 gears
Wheels:Bogart
Tires F/R:M/T front runners (F), 28x10.5 M/T ET drag slicks (R)
Suspension Front:Lakewood struts
Suspension Rear:Lakewood shocks

5th PLACE
Jim D'Amore
10.31/136.17 mph

Jim D'Amore brought the only IRS-suspended Cobra to our shootout and performed awesomely with a 10.31 at a scorching 136.17 mph. That's cooking when you consider he relies on 20 psi of boost from an Apten-ported Eaton supercharger, not a large Kenne Bell or Whipple setup, and that his car weighs nearly 4,000 pounds. Some of the performance can be attributed to a 75hp hit from the wet-nitrous system from Nitrous Express. The IRS suspension did not work quite as well on this high-horsepower application as it did on the 8.8-equipped cars, so hooking was difficult. D'Amore was off his usual 10-oh pace, but he still turned in some impressive numbers. The 1.66 60-foot times were more than a tenth off and kept the car in the 10.30s.

D'Amore considers his car to be a daily driver, with its electronically shifted trans-mission-not a C4-and air conditioning. He wanted to run in the nines, so he upped the nitrous to a 125hp hit. It proved to be ineffective as the air/fuel meter showed a severe lean condition and D'Amore backed off the throttle. He changed the tune-up at the track, but he said he really wanted to run the car on his chassis dyno before attempting another run with the larger nitrous hit. The lean condition was cured after the shootout thanks to one of JDM Engineering's fuel systems. D'Amore could not make a run for the nines as the winter season came and E-town was shut down until spring. You can be sure he'll run nines when the warm weather returns to the Northeast.

>STRIP SPECS
Owner:Jim D'Amore
Hometown:Freehold, New Jersey
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
All-Time Best:10.06 at 138.67 mph
Shootout Best:10.31 at 136 mph
Weight:3,962 lbs
Engine:281 ci
Built By:Ford Motor Company
Tuning:Superchips Custom Tuning chip by JDM Engineering
Power Adder:Apten-ported Eaton blower and Nitrous Express wet-nitrous system
Intercooler:Stock w/Fluidyne Heat Exchanger
Max Boost/Nitrous:20 psi/75hp shot
Intake Manifold:Stock with JDM Engineering throttle body
Cylinder Heads:Stock
Compression Ratio:Stock
Camshafts:JDM Engineering
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:JDM Engineering L/T headers, Lightning cats, MagnaFlow after-cat
Transmission:'04 Mach 1 4R70W
Clutch/Converter:Precision Industries lock-up torque converter
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.73 gears
Wheels:Bogart D-10
Tires F/R:M/T front runners (F), 28x10.5 M/T ET Street (R)
Suspension Front: Stock
Suspension Rear: QA1 shocks and factory IRS setup

6th PLACE
Chuck Riley
11.57/126.65 mph

There was only one car in the Modified class that had a six-speed transmission, and it belonged to Chuck Riley of Delaware. The white Cobra was the least modified car and it still ran 126.65 mph, showing 10-second potential. Riley added a live axle, which is what put him in this class. He was also the only person to run with radial street tires, Nitto 555R Extreme drag radials. The sticky tires would spin violently if Riley left with a lot of rpm. These traction issues forced him to essentially walk the car out and then slam down on the throttle once the Cobra got rolling.

Negotiating his way into the 11.50s took some time, and Riley was happy with the results. Of course, he wanted to run quicker, but he was a last-minute addition to the shootout when a competitor cancelled. Johnny Lightning is to thank for helping fill the sixth and final spot in the shootout. We imagine this car is probably closer to a majority of the Cobras roaming the streets than the other cars in the Modified class. Just think how remarkable these Cobras are-a few bolt-on parts and tuning will give you enough power to push a 3,700-pound car into the 10s. Now that is simply amazing.

Custom chip by Johnny Lightning Performance
STRIP SPECS
Owner:Chuck Riley
Hometown:Lewes, Delaware
Year/Model:'03 SVT Cobra
All-Time Best:11.57 at 126 mph
Shootout Best:11.50 at 126 mph
Weight:3,740 pounds
Engine:281 ci
Built By:Ford Motor Company
Tuning:
Power Adder:Factory Eaton blower
Intercooler:Stock
Max Boost/Nitrous:N/A
Intake Manifold:Stock
Cylinder Heads:Stock
Compression Ratio:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:Dr. Gas X-pipe, Bassani after-cat
Transmission:Stock six-speed
Clutch/Converter:Centerforce clutch and Fidanza flywheel
Rear Type:8.8-in w/3.55 gears
Wheels:Intro custom 17-in
Tires F/R:Nitto (F) and Nitto NT555R (R)
Suspension Front:Tokico drag struts
Suspension Rear:Strange drag shocks