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End-Times 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra Causes Terror, Nausea & Whiplash All in One Place
When we ask Mustang owners what is most appealing about their cars, 90 percent of the time they say that cars get people talking. Conversations begin. Strangers become acquaintances. Lives are usually enriched for the experience. So then, social media becomes active participation in real life.
Information flows, facts become evident, names get dropped. Nergal Lazar, along with a slew of other modular motor fans, already knew the fame of Eddie Rios. Addiction Motorsports, nestled in the SoCal burg of Canoga Park, has been enabling Mustang thrill junkies for these many years. “I’ve actually heard about Eddie Rios for some time,” says Lazar. “Eddie is the modular guru.”
Age 30, Lazar has been wheeling Mustangs since 2002, when he had his 1996 GT. “I was finally cured of cancer (twice), and since I stayed on top in school . . . I was able to graduate with my class of 2003.”
Originally he lusted after a Saleen, but when he discovered the 2003 Cobra, his ardor for the Saleen cooled a little but was still something he could not deny. Fate intervened and saved the day. “Not long after getting the Cobra, my GT was hit and totaled, so I actually wound up getting a Saleen as well.”
But this story is not about the tuner car at all.
If a little bit of manna is good, then a whole lot of it should be better, right? So now Lazar had two black supercharged Mustangs. What to do next? “Being the gearhead that I am and having been in the car industry basically my whole life, of course I was going to modify [the Cobra]. Started with a smaller pulley [on the original Eaton supercharger], did the intake and exhaust, and put some big, sticky Mickeys on it. And boy, did I notice a big difference! Before I knew it the car had another blower on it and was the king of tire destruction.”
Fate jumped in his face a second time. Putting a head gasket on the original motor was all the excuse he needed to get extreme. He went right to Rios for The Motor, a supreme bulletproof rendition that collected an all-forged rotating assembly composed of the original crankshaft, Manley connecting rods, and Manley pistons (which produce an 8.5:1 compression ratio). Addiction squared and decked the aluminum cylinder case and tweaked the bores minimally with a 0.020-inch cleanup. Rios capped the bottom end with a Melling pump, a windage tray, and a custom-built 10-quart oil sump.
The guys at Addiction spent more time optimizing the four-valve cylinder heads and massaging the induction system. They applied their Stage 3 porting process, Si stainless steel valves, bronze valve guides, and Ford GT cam followers, but retained the original camshafts. During each crankshaft revolution, the supercharger produces 3.4 liters of compressed air. Addiction’s additions combined an Accufab 1,696-cfm, single-blade throttle-body and an SCT mass air meter. Boost level is in the area of 20-25 psi. To inhibit detonation and faithfully repeat performance, Rios plumbed a large AFCO intercooler with dual fans and kicked it with methanol injection. Unburned hydrocarbons are pulled away by Kooks long-tube headers with 1 7/8-inch primary pipes. Then Deeds Performance (Chatsworth, California) gave up a custom-built X-pipe for the 3-inch-diameter system routed through Magnaflow silencers.
Torque is managed by a McLeod twin-disc clutch assembly and stored in an aluminum flywheel. Grunt goes into the T56 and comes out at the 8.8 axle that twirls a limited-slip differential and 3.55:1 gears. Addiction set up the chassis accordingly. The front control arms sandwich Bilstein struts and Eibach springs. At the rear suspension, they repeated the Bilstein/Eibach exercise. The original 29mm and 26mm antisway bars were left intact. In the realm of friction, the Cobra slips, slides, and smokes on ESM-007 wheels hooked with Toyo 275/35 and 335/30 R888 tires. It burns off energy with 14-inch vented Brembos and two-piston PBR calipers followed by 11.65-inch rotors and Ford single-piston clamps.
Lazar views it all from a familiar cocoon, albeit one with a roof that drops down behind him. Aside from a couple of ancillary gauges plastered to the A-pillar, the interior hasn’t changed since it came off the assembly line.
“This car is definitely a different animal from when I first bought it. I never thought I’d have a car with 335s in the rear and blow them off at 80 miles an hour! It pulls hard enough to lock the seatbelts up, and the blood rush from your brain gets you a little lightheaded. The car has 27,000 miles on it. Never been in rain. I’ve put it in a few shows and it has won quite a few trophies even being 13 years old. I’ve taken the car on some autocross courses in Fontana, Willow Springs, and Buttonwillow. To this day it still gets thumbs up from people—and tickets from the police when it goes out. It is a conversation piece. This is a car I will have forever.”