Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra - New York State of Mind
Chris Jurkowitsch brings a New York attitude to going fast in an '03 SVT Cobra.
Comprised of five boroughs, also known as counties, New York City has often been referred to as the capitol of the world.
It carries such monikers as The Big Apple; anyone who lives within 100 miles simply calls it The City. Tall buildings sprout up from everywhere and virtually the entire city is paved asphalt or concrete with more people per square mile than any other U.S. city—it's a place that molds a different type of person. The living environment seems to make New Yorkers tougher, more opinionated, but in some ways, extremely compassionate once you move past the thick shell.
Of the 18.9-million-or-so residents who call NYC home, Chris Jurkowitsch, a Queens-borough resident, carries the typical New York attitude into our hobby. He is a guy who didn't take the easy route and buy his way into a fast car.
Chris works his 40-plus-hours-per-week job and pays his bills, but that doesn't stop him from putting a little aside to invest in his '03 Terminator Cobra. That discretionary money goes toward parts and leaves little to pay a shop. So he built the Cobra on his own in the driveway, —no fancy lifts and definitely no squadron of veteran mechanics.
The Cobra's quickest and fastest pass is a stout 9.70 at 148 mph, showing this is hardly a parts-swappin' sideshow. Making the accomplishment that much more impressive is the fact that Chris wields a MGW short-throw shifter in his right hand, which is connected to a Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission. Adding more valor to the dragstrip glory is the independent rear suspension (IRS) out back.
Having an IRS and six-speed in the same sentence as single-digit quarter-mile e.t. is a rarity. It goes back to that New York attitude. "I decided to keep the six-speed because I really enjoy driving stick and driving the car on the street. It wouldn't be as much fun with an auto, even though it would probably be a lot faster," commented Chris.
The instant success in the early years of the Cobra forged his desire to keep the manual transmission in the tunnel. Using the typical Terminator modifications and a shot of nitrous helped yield a 10.17 at 142 mph back in 2009. From that moment on, Chris' goal became to run 9s with a stick and IRS.
"I also wanted to keep the IRS because everyone is so quick to give up on it and go to a solid rear axle right away," he stated. "I wanted to prove that you can go fast with the IRS, and not only that, but you can go fast with a bone-stock one. It can be done as long as you run the right tire and know how to drive the car."
To achieve sub-10-second times at near 150 mph, a few things are required and big horsepower sits at the top of the list. The foundation is a 324ci stroker engine from Modular Mustang Racing (MMR). The factory block has been replaced with a Boss iron block, and it has been filled with the usual suspects—Kellogg stroker crankshaft, Manley steel rods, and Manley forged pistons (8.5:1 compression). A pair of Four-Valve cylinder heads has been thoroughly massaged to Stage 3 specs by the CNC machines at Livernois Motorsports. Four camshafts were custom-ground by Comp Cams (MMR specs) and now reside on top of the ported cylinder heads. Each cam features 0.500-inches of lift, 230 degrees of duration on the intake cams and 218 degrees of duration on the exhaust sticks. Chris reports they are aggressive but the car is fully street-worthy with'em.
The Terminator came from the Ford assembly line with a Roots-style supercharger that displaces 112ci (1.84L), but bigger is always better. Chris ditched the Eaton a few years ago and turned to a Twin-screw style positive-displacement blower. First he employed the boost-making services of a Whipple 2.3L, but then switched to a larger 3.4L unit from the same manufacturer. A monstrous Whipple 160mm throttle body controls the air entering the mill. Other notable mentions include a stock PCM with custom tuning by Lund Racing, twin Bosch 340-lph fuel pumps, larger supply and return fuel lines, 105-lb/hr fuel injectors, and a SCT BA5000 MAF sensor. Most of the supercharger and fuel system components were acquired from Lethal Performance.
The 324ci engine sees 25 psi of boost and in this trim the Cobra cranks out 812 rwhp and 770 lb-ft of torque. As if that isn't enough, a single-stage nitrous system has been installed for greater output. Cracking open the bottle (0.048 jet in the dry nitrous system) produced 911 rwhp and 1,110 lb-ft of torque! We don't doubt those numbers as the Cobra unleashed a 908 rwhp during one of the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords/American Muscle.com Dyno Wars, which is where we first met Chris. He took second place in the chassis dyno shootout.
As mentioned earlier, the car's best time on track has been a 9.70 at 148 mph—no small feat for the manual transmission/IRS combination. As others turn to some type of automatic transmission and live-axle, this Terminator is true to its roots. Power is transmitted to the Tremec T-56 six-speed via a McLeod RXT clutch and Fidanza flywheel. A 26-spline input shaft resides inside the T-56 but that is the only internal modification. As you move past the transmission, the driveshaft is stock and the rear-end is slightly enhanced with 3.55:1 rear gears, a BilletFlow brace, QA1 adjustable shocks, and H&R springs. Yes, the axles are stock and this Cobra doesn't even benefit from upgraded bushings. The front suspension is from UPR with adjustable coilover springs and Strange adjustable struts.
We thought there would be some fancy tricks or super-secret adjustments to keep the near-stock IRS alive, but Chris said there isn't anything like that at all. "There isn't much to it other than walking it out of the hole and running on bias-ply tires. It cuts 1.50 60-foot times," Chris revealed.
Future plans call for the addition of a solid rear-axle, but he has no intentions of ditching the six-speed. A new and stronger Tremec T-56 Magnum will slide into place. The quest for 1,000-plus rwhp will be achieved with a new 10-rib supercharger belt system as the out-of-the-box 8-rib setup slips on occasion right now. Boost peaks at 25 psi but falls off to just 20 psi by redline.
From there the goal is to run low 9s and drive it all around the Big Apple. Like we said, New Yorkers are a different breed.