Vinnie the Hit Man
January 28, 2005

Barely old enough to drink, Marwane Aoun has been on a tear. At age 16 he was blessed with ownership of a shiny, new red Mustang hardtop. A few years later, he set his sights on a new supercharged '03 Cobra, and after a quick visit to his local Ford SVT dealer, a Sonic Blue '03 Cobra coupe made its way into his garage.

Although Marwane was perfectly content with the factory hot rod, he soon discovered the world of high-performance driving and began attending open track events regularly. He quickly had his new pride and joy flexing its muscles-just as SVT intended-and he was learning how to better handle the sinister snake on the track.

The subtle ghost flames on Marwane Aoun's ride were applied by Pete Santini, and they work well to distinguish this ride from all other Terminator Cobras. A customized '00 Cobra R hood is the only external body deviation from factory. This Redfire '03 tears it up at dragstrips and road courses along the SoCal coast.

Then one fateful day in Bakersfield, California, the Terminator wound up com-pletely wrecked. Within a few weeks, it was time for the independently wealthy Marwane to find a new set of wheels, so he decided to get another Cobra. But this time around, the 21-year-old went for something a little different on the option sheet and ended up with this Redfire '03 Cobra drop-top you see here.

Marwane began with a clean slate. "I had a lot of money saved up," he says, "and thus took the car to B&D Racing in Cayuga Park, California, to see how much better we could make the car handle. What a mistake. You see, once you start modifying your car, there's no going back. I decided I wanted a car that can hang with the best in the SoCal SVTOA and NASA road racing events. The only problem was that I drive the car every day and I needed a shop that also knew how to make a car extremely reliable. Brian Shapiro of B&D knew exactly what I wanted and how to get it done."

It's good to see Jesse Jane with her clothes on for a change. Nah, it's really not.

With the game plan set, it was time for Marwane to begin signing those checks and forking over the cash to the B&D crew, who would build this trick Pony. The Cobra's plethora of bolt-on components started from underneath to optimize the existing supercharged, six-speed, IRS platform.

Taking the blown 281 to new levels in efficiency is easy with all the available aftermarket parts. With simply the addition of a Pro-M 92mm mass air meter, an Anderson PMS, a 2.76-inch blower pulley, and a Bassani X-pipe and after-cat exhaust, rear-wheel horsepower checked in at 475, according to Marwane. A Canton road-race oil pan keeps the slippery stuff in control during the high-g turns, and relieves the crank of windage losses that normally occur with the stock pan. With the horsepower situation handled, it was time for him to handle, um, the handling.

With just a spattering of bolt-ons, this stock 4.6 is spitting out 475 rear-wheel horsepower, according to its owner. A Kenne Bell swap is planned to take him well over the 500-rwhp mark.

Relying on Griggs Racing and Maximum Motorsports for their expertise in suspension systems, Marwane had a Griggs tubular K-member and a GR40 coilover conversion bolted in with Koni dampers, and topped them off with Grigg's Racing's own bumpsteer kit and severe-duty control arms. Maximum Motorsports' sturdy subframe connectors buttress the floorpans below, and its caster/camber plates and urethane subframe bushings stiffen up the factory IRS that was otherwise left intact, replete with its 3.55 gearing. The factory Cobra brakes were upgraded with high-performance brake pads and stainless brake lines by components from The Brake Man.

Not looking to take any chances, a custom six-point rollcage was installed after Marwane's previous ride, another '03 Cobra, was wrecked at Bakersfield. Auto Meter gauges have attacked the interior cabin and occupy all the precious real estate on the dashboard. A Pioneer AVIC-N1 head unit features navigation and an XM satellite radio system.

Now that Marwane's Cobra was performing the part, it was time for the L.A. native to add some bark to the deadly bite. To gussy-up his ride, he enlisted the services of Pete Santini of Paint by Santini (Westminster, California) for a subtle yet noticeable change. Using House of Kolor's Cinnamon paint effects, ghostly flames were applied on the front bumper cover, the '00 Cobra R hood, and the front fenders. A clear bra was then applied to protect the craftwork. A GordsFord lower bumper cover screen protects a high-capacity heat exchanger also provided by GordsFord. A billet fuel door by MGW completes the external hardware, as the factory wheels were left in place. Marwane noted that he's looking to soon add a set of Boyd Coddington wheels to complement his grippy Toyo tires.

The results have been truly impressive. With the help of B&D, Marwane has gone beyond any of his expectations of a mildly modified Cobra. As he tells us, "With Mason and Brian working on the car, they were able to build me the most fun street/race car I could ever hope for-even one that I was able to win the Fun Ford Weekend Cobra Competition championship with. I still drive the car daily and track it as much as I can. I recently took my girlfriend, Shiloh, to California Speedway on my 21st birthday and drove it to 150 mph, giving her a good scare."

Gee, the last time anyone here at MM&FF gave a girl a good scare, it involved a staffer disrobing.