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This 2003 Ford Mustang Terminator Cobra Has Traveled a Long Way in Its Short Life and Has Found a New Home With a Dedicated East Coast Mustang Aficionado
All it took was a single magazine article and young Tim McAlonen was hooked. The blurb on the publication’s cover was catchy: “The Boss Is Back”! It certainly grabbed our featured car owner’s attention—he clutched the magazine with a torqued-up Kung Fu grip. From that moment, the 16-year-old just couldn’t stop thinking about that sweet 1982 GT on the cover and how much he needed one of his very own.
Unfortunately, that day would not come quickly. College called first, and then the years as a single father with the responsibility of raising two great kids followed. There wasn’t the time or financial freedom to follow his drive time dreams. But a short time in the future the stars finally aligned for this particular pony car pursuer. The garage space was allotted, the funds for the purchase allocated, and now McAlonen was finally getting the Mustang of his dreams. He didn’t waste his opportunity for a second longer, as he went out and snagged the exact car that he was now pining for, a sweet 1991 Bright Red Mustang GT.
From that moment over two decades ago McAlonen’s never looked back. He is now procured and cared for over 20 Ford Mustangs over the last 25 years. A pretty amazing feat if you ask us—all of this just to fulfill his hunger for Ford’s resident pony car. But with all the different model Mustangs that came and went, that 1991 GT was something special to him. He cherished everyday with it. But amazingly enough, a new ride would soon take up residence in his horsepower-driven heart and become his number one pony. Enter this 2003 Cobra SVT Terminator.
Back in 2005, through a friend, McAlonen heard of a Terminator for sale locally and was immediately interested. It was a one owner Mustang, a car that remarkably enough started its journey at Worthington Ford in Anchorage, Alaska. The car was driven cross-country by its first owner and was soon traded in at a dealership in Connecticut. Even after the near 5,000 mile trip to New England, the sleek Dark Shadow Gray Cobra had only 22K showing on the odometer. McAlonen was hooked; he needed to pull the trigger on the deal.
Needless to say, an agreement was struck and the hot Stang was coming back to McAlonen’s garage in Burnt Hills, New York. He immediately went over the car to see exactly what he had bought. What he got was a sparingly used stock Terminator, a car that was just achin’ for him to do something over the top to it. And that’s exactly what this Mustang devotee did.
McAlonen devised a plan to bring this already hot car to its combustible point. He first wrote out a laundry list of needed add-ons and upgrades, a list that would make even the most versed Mustang maniac jealous as all hell. Once the initial packages started arriving at his front door, he was ready to jump in headfirst. First thing he did was dive in under the hood. He decided that the stock 32-valve 4.6L was to be used as the basis for the build, but that’s where the list of stock SVT forged components pretty much ends. A laundry list of add-ons and performance boosters would make up the bulk of this ride’s radical reconstruction.
To start it off, McAlonen chose a VMP/TVS 2.3L Supercharger as the power adder in this particular buildup. He liked what he read and saw with this force feeder, and chose it to top off the engine. With this blower, he is pushing 22 psi of cold air into the engine to help boost those power numbers. Next, to feed this engine the air/fuel mixture it needs, a VMP GT500 throttle-body was added to the setup, with ID1000 injectors. A Glenn’s Performance 1,300hp return-style fuel system gets the E85 to the engine efficiently and without waste. A Metco supercharger pulley adds boost while adding less weight than the heavy OEM pulley. Last but not least, a Green HD serpentine belt, along with a Thump belt tensioner, keeps this Mustang’s motor from unraveling.
A JLT HB Cold Air Intake with SCT BA3000 meter helps get fresh air into the engine. A 7 1/2-gallon trunk mounted supercharger cooling tank was provided by Chiseled Performance, and AFCO makes the heat exchanger tank. Yeah, there’s one more tank for the radiator, and it’s made by PFab. A Lethal Performance Gen 2 head cooling mod was added to the mix; the company’s new design makes it easier to use in supercharged applications like this. Bassani midlength headers, X-pipe, and 3-inch cat-back exhaust get rid of the spent gases in a hurry. The drivetrain was then tuned to perfection by Pete Johnson at Performance Dyno in Loudon, New Hampshire, to the tune of 750-plus horsepower.
A Tremec Magnum T-56 transmission complete with a SFI bellhousing gets this Terminator in gear. A McLeod RXT twin disc clutch and improved clutch quadrant adjuster were tasteful upgrades. The power is sent out to the stock IRS built with a BF brace, running the OEM 3.55 gears. A FRPP driveshaft loop was added for track safety. Up front, a UPR K-member lightens the load while not sacrificing strength. QA-1 coilovers add to the smooth ride. Underneath, this ride is stiffened up by full-length subframe connectors. Caster/camber plates add to the adjustability of this Mustang’s alignment and tracking on pavement.
Because this Stang spends some time on the dragstrip, McAlonen decided on a Maximum Motorsports six-point roll bar for safety. Corbeau LG1 Microsuede seats add to the look while not sacrificing creature comfort. An SOS gauge pod with AutoMeter boost/vacuum and voltage gauges helps monitor the Terminator’s vitals, and a Raptor shift light gets him into gear at the right rpm. A FAST dual wideband meter helps keep the air/fuel mixture just right. RJS five-point race belts keep McAlonen tucked into his seat and protected. And since he’s running 10.4 e.t.’s at 138 mph, well, that’s a good reason to buckle up.
Out on the corners, McAlonen runs True Forged Mach 5 three-piece wheels: 18x9 up front and 18x11 out back. For the track Bogart GT’s are his wheels of choice, shod in Mickey Thompson ET Streets. These bias-plies have soft sidewalls that help the Terminator hook better on those track days.
Once the performance upgrades were finished, McAlonen made a few changes to the exterior, but he loved the look of his 2003 so much that only a few minor tweaks were needed to really set it off. He smoked out the front headlights and rear taillights, blacked out the gas cover, added black steel Cobra letters on the valence, and added a stars and stripes pony to the grille. To top it off, an H.O. Fibertrends 2 1/2-inch cowl hood with MRT hood struts for an aggressive finishing touch to this menacing Terminator.
McAlonen sees a long relationship ahead with his favorite ride. “I have no intentions of ever, ever selling it,” he says. Nowadays, he also has a couple of other Mustangs in his roost, a Competition Orange 2015 GT daily driver and a 2015 EcoBoost Mustang, which is driven mostly by his better half, Kim.
The track will always be a second home to Tim McAlonen and his ride. He continues to thrash it from time to time, and has raced it in the NMRA Terminator vs. GT500 Shootouts over the last four years. He has won his class six times—not too shabby! As for future upgrades, how does a fully built solid rear axle with 3.73s sound to you? Sounds good to us.