Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
December 28, 2013
Photos By: Patrick Lauder

Unless you're a trust-fund kid, the problem with being young is that you don't usually have the money to buy what you want. Instead of getting that top-of-the-line skateboard or BMX bike, perhaps it's a $40 pawn-shop special instead. After all, that's all you had from mowing yards. However, you make it work for your needs, but you keep your eyes open for what it is you truly want.

In the meantime, you upgrade where you can with what you can afford. It's a lesson we all learn early in life, and we can apply that same education to our Mustang. Case in point, J.R. Noche of Oakland, California, wanted an '03-'04 Cobra in high school, but of course, he couldn't quite stack enough paper to make that happen. Instead, he purchased the '00 GT you see here.

Yep, what you're looking at is actually an '00 GT in Bright Atlantic Blue (code K7). "At first I thought it was aftermarket paint," J.R. says. He even started ripping off interior and trunk panels to see if the paint was original to the car, and everything showed that it was indeed the original color—Bright Atlantic Blue. While still in high school, J.R. did all the little bolt-ons he could in order to get to school quicker.

Once he was free from the halls of study, the bolt-ons took on a more powerful approach. The Two-Valve received a Kenne Bell 1.7-liter supercharger, and J.R. was at the track every Wednesday night perfecting his craft. He removed the car's A/C, heat, and even the radio to get the car down to fighting weight. He also removed the sway bars, added drag shocks, a locking differential, rollbar, slicks, and skinnies up front. Eventually, with all the weight savings and his improved driving skills, J.R. was able to run a best of 11.42 at 122 mph. However, he also was visited by track officials to either slow it down, or add a real rollcage before making another pass like that.

"At that point, I felt that I was only getting one thing out of my car, and that was drag racing," J.R. says. He wanted more enjoyment out of the car than drag racing alone could offer. His friend Daniel Cach from Advanced Auto in San Ramon, California, had always pushed him to add more power to the car, and get him out to the dragstrip, but J.R.'s GT then made the transition to cruiser and car show regular. All the while, J.R. was slowly transforming the GT into an '03-'04 Cobra.

Even regular showgoers would notice the Cobra enhancements. At one point, J.R.'s GT sported Cobra exterior pieces, interior, IRS, and even an '03 Cobra T-56 six-speed. "The last piece of the puzzle was the motor," J.R. says. But browsing Craigslist one morning spelled out a way to fix that.

In front of him on the computer was a wrecked '03 Cobra convertible with 28,200 miles on it. Of course, J.R. jumped on the deal right away. "I took all I wanted out of the car and parted the rest of it," J.R. says. From the wrecked Cobra, he pilfered the engine and transmission since those were the pieces of the puzzle he needed most. He actually sold the drivetrain out of the GT, and dropped in the Terminator Four-Valve and matching T-56 six-speed transmission. J.R. had finally installed the last piece of the puzzle, the transformation was complete.

Since the engine still wears its stock blower, J.R. has plans to upgrade the power department, of course. He'll have the tough decision of deciding between a Hellion Power Systems turbo or a Whipple supercharger. His goal is to make 600-650 rwhp on California's "crappy 91-octane," as J.R. puts it. "A lot of people have been making the switch to E85," J.R. adds, "but I want to be able to pull into any station and pump fuel. I want to be able to drive the car with nothing holding me back."

J.R.'s friends haven't been holding back either. Since he's been "done" with the car, many of his buddies have told him if Ford had introduced a Bright Atlantic Blue Terminator, that's the color they would get.

We are in agreement.

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5.0 Tech Specs

Engine and Drivetrain
Block: '03 Cobra
Crankshaft: '03 Cobra
Rods: '03 Cobra
Pistons: '03 Cobra
Camshafts: '03 Cobra
Cylinder heads: '03 Cobra
Intake manifold: '03 Cobra
Power Adder: Stock '03 Cobra Eaton
Fuel system: '03 Cobra
Exhaust: '03 Cobra w/ MagnaFlow after-cat exhaust
Transmission: '03 Cobra T-56 six-speed manual w/ MGW shifter
Rearend: '03 Cobra IRS w/ 4.10 gears

Engine management: '03 Cobra w/ SCT X3 tune
Ignition: '03 Cobra w/ NGK TR6 plugs
Gauges: '03 Cobra

Suspension and Chassis
Front suspension
K-member: Stock '00 GT
A-arms: '03 Cobra w/ Steeda Autosports X2 ball joints, and Maximum Motorsports bumpsteer kit
Struts: '03 Cobra Bilstein w/ Steeda Autosports caster/camber plates
Springs: H&R Race
Brakes: Brembo slotted rotors w/ Russell stainless braided brake lines, and Mach 1 calipers
Wheels: AFS Satin '03 Cobra, 17x9-in
Tires: Nitto NT555 275/40-17

Rear suspension
Shocks: '03 Cobra Bilstein
Springs: H&R Race
Control Arms: '03 Cobra
Brakes: Brembo slotted rotors w/ '03 Cobra calipers
Wheels: AFS Satin '03 Cobra, 17x10.5-in
Tires: Mickey Thompson ET Street radials 315/35-17

Horse Sense: Bright Atlantic Blue first appeared for '98 on both GT and Cobra models, and a '98 Cobra so equipped remains a hot commodity in Mustang circles.