Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
September 18, 2003

What do you do with a class racer who proves too quick for the intended class? In the case of Locust Grove, Georgia's Aaron Archer, you keep the hammer down and start looking for alternatives. You see, Aaron isn't about to dial down the tune on his newly constructed mod-motored beauty. In fact, he's adamant about running the car to its full potential--an 8.63 at 145 mph as of early spring 2003.

Back in the modular Mustang's birth year of 1996, who would've thought it possible to run mid eights with an engine such as this? No, it's not possible with factory parts and just 4.6 liters of displacement, said the skeptics. Of course, many a modular pioneer, including Aaron, have proven us wrong.

That the car runs considerably quicker than the 9.10 NMRA limit for its Modular Muscle class is a badge of honor of sorts, and Aaron simply runs where he can. Obviously, that means an excused absence at NMRA events but a full schedule of Fun Ford Weekend races where the rule book is wide open in terms of modular e.t.'s.

Aaron's been a solid player in the increasingly popular modular motor classes for several years now, although until 2003 his ride was relatively mainstream. His former '97 Cobra convertible didn't have weight or rigidity in its favor, but then, as with so many street cars turned racers, it wasn't originally purchased to assault the 1,320. No matter--Aaron found the perfect race shop in Mike Johnson's (not our associate editor) No Limit Race Cars, where the droptop snake was eventually built to run as fast as 9.60 at 143 mph.

Of course, ultimate elapsed time isn't the dominating force in handicapped modular classes. Aaron has also demonstrated the driving skill to wind up on top of the elimination heap on numerous occasions. Feathers in his helmet include winning the Epping FFW event in 2000, the Modular Shootout for Four-Valve power adders in 2001, and the Richmond and Bristol FFW events in 2002.

It was after the Bristol win that Aaron decided to step up to a purpose-built race car, and he knew No Limit would be the place to build it. Mike started from scratch with a body in white and completely assembled the impressive racer save for engine machining and paint. The latter gives this '03 Cobra-trimmed Mustang a virtual show-car appearance, with the House of Kolors pearl hues being laid down by Daniel at Excentric Customs in McDonough, Georgia. Of course, in this case, we know beauty is more than skin deep.

The interior of this trick pony is dominated by the custom No Limit air-to-water intercooler that sits on the passenger side of the cabin. Other accouterments include a 14-point rollcage, a Kirkey seat, a quick-release steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges, and various other sundries befitting a serious race car.

Lift the Kaenan 'glass hood and most enthusiasts will be surprised at the engine that propels this beast well into the mid eights. Knowing a bit of Aaron's past wouldn't make one expect a pushrod mill, but perhaps the most surprising thing is that the powerplant still resembles the engine that once powered a stock Mustang Cobra. We expect the factory block and heads since FoMoCo's the only game in town, but an original intake--albeit well modified--remains a dominant fixture. Aaron wants to remain mum on much of the engine specifics, so for the moment we're not privy to compres- sion ratio, cam specs, valve sizes, or boost levels. However, we surmise there's a vast amount of air being compressed by the ATI ProCharger F-2M, while Mike obviously knows what it takes to make a 4.6 really tick.

Mike believes the engine is cracking the whip on between 1,100 and 1,200 hp, and the 1.23 60-foots and eight-second passes give us no reason to doubt. Trap speeds are lacking for the time being, mostly due to the current EDIS module's max capacity of 8,000 rpm, which Aaron reaches with several hundred feet still to go at the top end. Converting to an MSD belt-driven distributor and conventional support gear will allow additional revs and should enable this snake to gain another 15 mph in the traps, while shaving even more from the e.t.

Aaron will spend 2003 sorting through a few teething problems typical with any new car. Already the No Limit crew has reached the end of the line for the Performance Automatic C4, a tranny that held up superbly in the '97 Cobra and which has taken the initial abuse from the new ride as well. Credit the big new blower and intercooler for stepping over a tolerable power threshold and causing the team to switch to another PA-built unit--a GM-sourced TH400. The decision to stay with a three-speed transmission versus the popular two-speed 'Glide has much to do with the big top-end boost and inherently low torque output of the 283-cube engine. Keeping such a combination at full song is critical for quick times, thus the decision to stay with three forward gears. And should Aaron ever feel guilty for putting a GM product in his otherwise all-Ford, let's remember the sea of Chevy guys who run a 9-inch rear--turnabout is fair play, we guess.

When the '03 race season comes to a close, Aaron will have some important decisions to make. Will he continue running modular classes or move over to the heads-up racing of Super Street Outlaw? Mike assembled the car with the SSO possibility in mind, including the prerequi-site 28x10.5 Mickey Ts that turn on gorgeous Bogart Aluma Lites. Some factory interior bits would need to be added, along with a return to production glass, but with said changes the team thinks they'd be competitive with a year of sorting under their belts. Regardless of the choice, any sort of consistent racing requires the participant to do plenty of traveling, and that's where Aaron's wife, Tammy, and son, AJ, come in. Both are devoted supporters of Aaron's chosen affliction and are as big a reason as any for his success. Long race weekends typically become a family affair, and Aaron is grateful for the fun times spent together. Think back to when you were just 11 years old, like AJ. Can you imagine anything better than spending a weekend at the races helping your dad with his eight-second machine? Neither can we. 5.0

Horse Sense: Aaron appears to have laid claim to the fastest supercharged modular Mustang in the world, thanks to Mike Johnson at No Limit Race Cars, and a new intercooled ProCharger F-2M. While there are a handful of turbo modulars that run a bit quicker, we know of no other blower 4.6s that have spun such a healthy eight-second tale--do you?

Mike Johnson (left) with Aaron and Tammy Archer.

5.0 Tech specs

Engine and Drivetrain

Block Stock Cobra
Displacement 283 ci
Crank Stock Cobra
Rods Manley billet
Pistons CP forged
Heads Stock Cobra, prepped by JDS Inductions
Camshafts No Limit Race Cars custom
Intake Stock, modified by No Limit
Throttle Body Accufab oval-bore
Fuel System Weldon pump, regulator, custom fuel rails, MSD injectors
Exhaust Stepped headers by No Limit , and DynaTech mufflers
Power Adder ProCharger F-2M w/Accufab cog drive
Transmission Performance Automatic Turbo 400, 9-in Neil Chance converter
Rearend Fab 9 9-in w/Strange spool, 4.10 gears, and 35-spline axles


Engine Management FAST
Ignition MSD
Gauges Auto Meter carbon-fiber

Suspension and Chassis

Front Suspension
K-Member Anthony Jones Engineering
Struts AJE
Springs AJE
Brakes Aerospace
Wheels Bogart Aluma Lites
Tires Mickey Thompson

Rear Suspension
Traction Device Ladder bar
Shocks QA1
Springs QA1
Brakes Aerospace
Wheels Bogart Aluma Lites
Tires Mickey Thompson