Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
July 7, 2000

Step By Step

View Photo Gallery
P31500_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Front_Driver_SideP31501_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra EngineP31502_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Rear_Passenger_SideP31503_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra InteriorP31504_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Turbo_Close_UpP31505_large 1994_Ford_Mustang_Cobra Wheelie_Bar

Michael wants to thank his good buddies Mike Gove and Mike Plumber "for showing up every weekend to help put the car together," and his understanding wife Debby for putting up with all of this madness.

With the switch to a two-speed Powerglide and continued refinement of the EPEC programming as well as the blower setup, Michael fully expects to be in the 8.60s without an Igloo.

In the world of the 5.0 Mustang it seems like everyone is trying to separate themselves from the pack. Sure, there are established combinations people have used to get to the winner's circle, but that hasn't stopped others from thinking they can do it better. Perhaps the biggest problem you will face if you decide to try some bizarre combination is that there won't be anyone to help you when you get stuck with a problem you can't solve.

This sort of concern never stopped Michael Freedman, a software engineer for GTE from Taunton, Massachusetts. He first got started behind the wheel of a quick '93 LX. That car ran low-11s at more than 128 mph (3,420 pounds) thanks to a well-thought-out, and proven, combination featuring Edelbrock heads, a Vortech B-Trim supercharger, an E303 cam, and 30 lb/hr injectors. A solid-11-second street 5.0 is a respect-able car, but in 1993, that was down-right nasty.

Unfortunately, a traffic accident claimed the life of the '93, and Michael was soon in search of his next ride. It didn't take him long to come across the stunning '94 Cobra you see here. Reluctant to start cutting on the new car, Michael took it easy for awhile, but it wasn't long before the wrenches started to fly. Salvaging pieces from the dead '93, the Cobra soon found the same hardware added to the already-stout factory arsenal.

With the addition of a Wolverine 1087 cam, an upgraded S-Trim Vortech, and 36 lb/hr injectors to the well-tested blower/head/intake combo, Michael soon had one of the fastest (if not the fastest) '94 Mustangs in the country with high-11-second clockings. He even worked with Pro-M to come up with a conversion harness so '94-'95 cars can run the older-style EEC-IV computer hardware. By this time, Michael had already lost one block and a piston due to inadequate mass air performance with all of the added speed parts. His second block-destruction incident occurred with 20 psi from the S-Trim and nearly 600-rear-wheel horsepower.

"At this point, I realized I had to quit racing altogether or build a real motor," Michael says of his progress with the Cobra. Lucky for us, he decided to get real serious with more than just the motor. While he had stuck with more traditional means for building a fast 5.0, it was at this point that things started to get a little bit different. With only 10,000 original miles on the odometer, and not satisfied with the peeling factory paint, Michael disassembled every piece of the Cobra in preparation of a fresh body flavor. Ron Forton at Autolines was the man responsible for spraying each individual body panel separately before the bright-red snake was put back together.

Michael had Rick's Custom Fabrication (East Bridgewater, Massachusetts) prepare the underpinnings for battle with a full-house, 10-point chrome-moly cage. Nowhere near a kit cage, this thing is hand-bent and fitted to Michael's exacting eye for perfection. He is especially pleased with the way Rick's radiused the A-pillar bars to match the factory lines in every detail.

Once the chassis was solid, Five Star Chassis (Rockland, Massachusetts) got to work on the ladder-bar rear suspension. Koni double adjustable coilovers (mounted at the stock shock mounts) hang the stock 8.8-inch Ford rear-end equipped with 9-inch housing ends, 33-spline Moser axles, Moser spool, and U.S. Gear 3.73s.

The front suspension was not left to chance, and it features a K-member, A-arms, and coilover conversion from Griggs. Michael has been impressed with the Griggs product line. In fact, he says the K-member "fit perfectly the first time, unlike two other K-members" he tried. Rolling stock for the snake consists of the timeless Weld Draglite rims (15x10 back and 15x3.5 front) wrapped in Mickey Thompson front runners and 28x10.5-inch slicks.

Motivation for a top Street Outlaw contender is not for the faint of heart. Michael started with the immortal Ford Racing A-4 block and added a 3.25-inch stroke Scat billet steel crank, Oliver billet rods, and JE blower pistons (9:1 compression), to create 327 ci of incredible potential. The short-block assembly, which includes internal balancing with an Innovators West aluminum damper, was handled by Nat's Racing (Swansea, Massachusetts).

As for heads, only the best would do, and Fox Lake got the contract to do up a set of Stage III Trick Flow Street Heats with complete Pro Exhaust treatment. With the 2.08-inch intake and 1.625-inch exhaust valves passing the gasses through the cylinders, the heads flow 330 cfm on the intake and 255 cfm on the exhaust (measured at .700-inch lift). Comp's 1.6:1 steel rockers work with a top-secret Jimmy LaRocca solid-roller cam. Michael describes it as "not being a huge cam, but it seems to do the job. I could tell you the dimensions, but Jimmy would shoot me!"

Feeding the hungry small-block Ford is the job of a totally customized Cartech tunnel-ram intake modified to hold an octet of Bosch 160 lb/hr injectors and covered with a polished sheetmetal upper. The throttle body is a billet Accufab 75mm unit. Interestingly, a 90mm throttle body was tested on the dyno, and the results indicated there was no advantage to using the bigger piece. It actually cost some low-end power. A monstrous ProCharger D3-M supercharger immediately slaps you in the face when Michael pops the hood on the Cobra.

With 20 psi from the D-3M, the Cobra has gone a best of 9.60 e.t. at more than 143 mph. That run was the second pass off the trailer, and the development on the combination continues as this is written. ATI was concerned up front that the flow characteristics of the D-3M were too large for the 327, and has recommended the D2-7. The next trick up Michael's sleeve is to investigate the potential of the slightly smaller blower, to see if its quicker spool-up time and additional 10 psi will make the 2,400-cfm blower a potent addition to this Street Outlaw contender.

When it came time to pick a fuel-management system, Michael shied away from the typical DFI or Speed-Pro setup. Instead, he chose to rely on the tuning capabilities of Ford Racing's Extreme Performance Engine Control system. EPEC (pronounced "epic") allows the EEC-IV computer to work with a mass air (83mm Pro-M in the case of this Cobra) and control fuel, spark, rpm limit, user-programmable outputs, analog inputs, nitrous control, and data acquisition among other functions.

"I'm using this in stand-alone mode with no EEC-IV in the car. I made a custom wiring harness so I can plug the EPEC right into the 60-pin connector in the car," Michael says of his unique tuning aid. "The beauty of the mass air system is that you can make major changes to your combination and you don't have to completely redo the program."

Supporting the fuel side of the program is a system made up of a Weldon 20-25A fuel pump, -8 lineup, -6 return line, and a Weldon fuel regulator. Lighting the fire is the job of a complete MSD ignition including the 7AL2 ignition and Pro Power HVC coil.

On the backside is an exhaust system featuring 17/8-inch to 2-inch step headers with a 3.5-inch collector built by Tubular Automotive (Rockland, Massachusetts) and Borla 3-inch Sportsman mufflers. The transmission--when these photos were taken--was a Dynamic C4 with a 5,000-rpm stall converter. However, since then, Michael has upgraded to a Dynamic Powerglide to help kill some gear in First and to smooth the Cobra on the top end of the track.

Getting to the top end first is the competition's problem.

Horse Sense: With an eye toward flexibility, Five Star Chassis was instructed to create a Street Outlaw-legal ladder-bar rear suspension that would not molest the stock suspension mounting points. This was done so that Michael could switch from stock-type upper and lower control arms to move to Wild Street (a class which requires the stock-type suspension) and avoid weight penalties (on the ladder-bar suspension) in Street Outlaw when class racing.