Dale Amy
April 1, 2001
Photos By: Chuck James

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P65570_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Front_Driver_SideP65572_image_largeP65571_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Rear_Passenger_Side
Gabe’s a fan of Cervini’s Stalker body kit, and on this car he specified the firm’s ram-air hood. The Stalker’s shark-mouth opening is particularly well suited to feed fresh, cool air to the Sean Hyland Motorsport intercooler, visible in the gaping opening. The ’96 Cobra’s convertible unibody was stiffened up with Kenny Brown Super Sub frame connectors, lowered with an Eibach Pro spring kit, and damped by Tokico five-way Illuminas.
P65573_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Engine
For durability and longevity, Mark Ray substituted a forged-rod-and-piston Sean Hyland Motorsport short-block, topped with stock cams and heads. SHM also supplied one of its air-to-air intercoolers to cool the breath of the Vortech S-Trim, to which Mark fitted a 3.48-inch blower pulley, producing about 10 pounds of boost through the ’cooler. In support, a Pro-M 80mm mass air was teamed with 30 lb/hr injectors and an in-tank pump upgraded to 190 lph. A custom Superchip was burned to maximize driveability on the street—where the car spends all its time. Dyno pulls were topped out at a conservative 6,000 rpm, where the combination was putting 426 hp to the ground with the power curve still climbing steeply. Per Gabe’s wishes, this power has been perfectly reliable for the last two years—no doubt a great relief to Mark Ray.
P65574_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Interior_Dashboard
At around 6’5”, Gabe Wilkins was never comfortable with the SN-95’s extremely limited factory seat travel. Mark’s solution was to fit Cobra Sidewinder buckets from Subé Sports, having tracks that allow a huge rearward travel increase. The seats’ blue inserts naturally complement the car’s T-bird metallic blue finish, as does the electroluminescent ARC gauge cluster. Interior mods are rounded out by a full carbon-fiber trim kit and a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter.
P65575_small 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Interior0

These lyrics expressed in the Janis Joplin ballad of 30 years ago apparently still have relevance to Gabe Wilkins today. As a successful NFL athlete in today's lucrative pro-sports economy, Gabe, like so many of his former teammates, could easily be driving any tricked-out German or Italian sports car his rather large heart desired. But it's American iron--specifically Mustangs--that stir Gabe's soul, so he must try to make amends for all the Euro-trash parked in those football stadium reserved spaces.

In our Dec. 2000 issue ("Gabe's Mustang," p. 18), we featured one example of Mr. Wilkins' buy-American program--his way-cool, blitzkrieg-quick, 427-inch, street/track '94 coupe. Here's another--a tastefully personalized, blown modular Cobra convertible that serves as the big man's daily driver and was actually built prior to the fire-breathing Windsor coupe.

At the beginning of all this, Gabe could have picked up the phone and called such obvious sources of prepackaged muscular Mustangs as Saleen or Steeda. But, being a native of South Carolina, the huge defensive lineman turned to fellow Carolinian Mark Ray to call the plays when it came to the performance development program for his DOHC ragtop. His instructions were to make it quick and agile, while keeping it dead-nuts reliable and civilized--something for which Mark Ray Motorsports had already earned a reputation.

Mark's choices for engine, chassis, and interior upgrades were all made accordingly. After all, would you do anything against the wishes of a 300-pound customer who made his living knocking other 300-pounders flat? The immediate choice of a Vortech S-Trim was simple since the DOHC 4.6 responds to supercharging like Popeye to spinach. The rest of the supporting cast of components combined to sharpen the Cobra's reflexes without making it too mean to live with on a daily basis. That the project was a success is evidenced by the fact that Mark soon thereafter received the contract to pump up Gabe's Windsor coupe.

Weighing-in at around 4,100 pounds with the burly Mr. Wilkins at the wheel, this comely yet corpulent convertible won't ever run 10-second quarter-miles, but that's not what it was made for. Mark Ray sums it up: "Gabe cruises with this car, and if the street scene really heats up, he fetches the '94 427. What an arsenal." And what great ways to make amends for his import-driving ex-teammates.