John Hedenberg
August 7, 2003

The racing public has latched onto the '03 SVT Mustang Cobra like a Tiger Oscar who hasn't eaten a decent meal in weeks, just shredding through the water hoping to find that appealing lure bobbling in front of him. With an advertised and conservative 390hp rating and an Eaton M112 Roots-style supercharger hiding under its innocent factory hood, the new Cobra is the true musclecar of the future.

For you trivia buffs, minor bolt-ons can put this beast into the 11-second zone with ease and some '03s have already dipped into the 9-second range with factory long-blocks and independent rears.

So with the rising popularity of this supercharged Snake, it should come as no surprise that Mustang junkies are purchasing them faster than Ford can build 'em. One such person who felt a need to catch a ride on the '03 bandwagon is Earl Moorhead of San Fernando, California. As the owner and operator of Earl's Automotive, a fabrication shop specializing in domestic and foreign cars, SVT's Cobra was the perfect candidate to show off the craftsmanship and talents of his ever-growing business.

"I originally had an '01 Lightning that ran high 11s but had always reminisced on what a blown, factory equipped 4.6L could do in front of the firewall of a lightweight (when compared to a Lightning) Mustang," stated Moorhead. "When Ford debuted the '03 Cobra, the choice was simple-ditch the truck and go out and get one!"

As impressive as the factory Snake is, Moorhead did not keep it stock for very long. He began by stopping off at Superior Auto Body in San Fernando, where gorgeous blue flames (with some purple pearl) were applied over the Torch Red Clearcoat body. "Shop owner Sam used '03 Chevy Truck blue lacquer paint with pearl accents for the flames," said Moorhead. "He, along with the rest of the crew, did an awesome job painting the flames over the vibrant red paint."

From there, Moorhead returned to his own shop, where the in-house engine modifications began. Lead mechanic, Gene Demaria, cracked open his toolbox and began swinging wrenches. The factory long-block remains mostly untouched, but the four-valve-per-cylinder heads were ported and polished by West Coast Cylinder Heads in Reseda, California. Connecting the modified castings to the tailpipes are Kook's long-tube step headers, which channel the remains through JDM Engineering high-flow converters and out Magnaflow mufflers.

Next, a single-blade Accufab throttle body, smaller JDM blower pulley and a Superchips re-calibrated computer chip found their way onto the '03 and helped boost the power level to 445 hp at the wheels. After these minor bolt-on components were installed, everything got treated to a complete polish job with chrome plating and powdercoating also being present.

The T56 six-speed gearbox and independent rear suspension system were left alone, but the car was lowered with Ford Racing lowering springs and 19-inch Mahdi wheels, re-drilled to adapt to the bolt pattern of the Mustang hubs and axles were also put into play. "We re-drilled our rims, originally designed for a Lexus, to fit the bolt pattern of the Mustang," said Moorhead. "It was a painstaking feat, but well worth the effort." The rims measure 10-inches wide in the rear and 9-inches wide in the front.

Hiding behind the trick rolling stock (and providing the necessary stopping power) is a complete Baer Eradispeed cross-drilled brake kit, front and rear. Keeping the costly rims from getting scuffed on the pavement are 295/35/19 Yokahama tires (rear) while slightly smaller 275 Nittos rest up front.

The interior is just as spectacular as the outside. Most of the original hardware is still present, but a complete stereo system (with DVD player) was added. "I had Ron Bohart of Super Sound in San Fernando hook up the one-of-a-kind stereo setup," mentioned Moorhead. "An Alpine DVD player, complete with 7-inch monitor, was mounted on the dash along with an Alpine CD player. Focal speakers, front and rear, supply ample sound and get fed via one gigantic 1,000-watt J.L. amplifier and one 400-watt, four-channel amp. True to form, this system flat out kicks."

Working with the 7-inch monitor on the dash is a 10-inch monitor at the rear (located on the underside of the deck lid) and a custom W-6 woofer box takes up most of the trunk space. Custom billet cruise control and heater knobs replace the originals and an assortment of Auto Meter gauges were put in place to keep tabs on the vehicle's features. "She's no lightweight," explained Moorhead. "With all of the stereo equipment out back, it comes in at a portly 4,100 pounds with driver."

Once completed, Moorhead and the Earl's Automotive gang headed out to Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale, California, to lay the smack down on the quarter-mile. A super-soft 12.10 was the end result, but Moorhead fought a series of missed shifts throughout most of the day. Returning to the shop he installed a Pro 5.0 shifter to rectify the problem, but has not had the chance to re-visit the track and redeem himself.

He did, however, get another opportunity to strap his improved pony on the chassis dyno near home, and, after tweaking the tune up for a few hours, came away with an outlandish 540 rwhp and a whopping 610 lb-ft of torque. This power, along with a little traction, should propel Moorhead into the high 11-second zone on street tires, even at Palmdale in the high desert.

Model:
Peggy Tyler

0309mm_moorlead_z

0309mm_moor10_z

0309mm_moor09_z
Super Sound converted the Cobra's trunk into a portable studio. An Alpine CD player (located up front) channels the watts out to two J.L. amplifiers and a custom-made W-6 woofer box. A flat-screen, 10-inch monitor was mounted to the underside of the decklid with custom upholstery now covering the area.
0309mm_moor08_z

0309mm_moor11_z

0309mm_moor06_z
The factory interior was jazzed up with a full array of Auto Meter white-faced gauges and a Pro 5.0 shifter was also added to ease the treacherous power shifting process.
0309mm_moor01_z
Superior Auto Body applied the striking flames to the front of the Cobra, which were mixed using '03 Chevy truck blue lacquer with pearl accents. Custom 19-inch Mahdi rims, designed for a Lexus but re-drilled for the Cobra's bolt pattern, spin Nitto tires up front and Yokahama meats in the rear.
0309mm_moor05_z
Although most of the engine components are polished, the majority of the mill remains Ford original. The Eaton M112 Roots-style supercharger is untouched, but sits on top of ported and polished factory heads, done by West Coast Cylinder Heads in Reseda, California. Kook's long-tube step headers with a JDM Engineering high-flow converter system and Magnaflow cat-back round out the exhaust end of the beast. A JDM Engineering blower pulley, single-blade Accufab throttle body and a custom Superchips computer chip were also thrown into the mix. Horsepower at the rear wheels now stands at 540 with 610 lb-ft of torque.
0309mm_moor04_z
The lovely Peggy Tyler was clairvoyant enough to bring a matching blue bikini to wear next to the sexy Cobra.
0309mm_moor02_z
The rest of the body remains stock, but Moorhead did drop the suspension with Ford Racing lowering springs on all four corners. The original '03 Cobra struts and shocks were kept in place, though.
0309mm_moor07_z
Resting above the original console is a 7-inch Alpine DVD screen with matching Alpine CD player. A 10-inch DVD screen was added to the rear trunk decklid as well as a host of admirable stereo equipment, including Focal speakers.
0309mm_moor03_z0309mm_moorweb01_z0309mm_moorweb02_z0309mm_moorweb03_z0309mm_moorweb04_z0309mm_moorweb05_z0309mm_moorweb06_z