Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
June 1, 2002

Like most Mustang enthusiasts, Todd Zikas started getting the most out of his Mustangs by storming down the quarter-mile. Naturally, living in Lavista, Nebraska, Todd eventually found himself working with HP Motorsport in Omaha. For two years he campaigned at the dragstrip with HP sponsorship, but then it happened. Fate intervened, and Paul Brown at HP asked him to attend a driving school at the Heartland Park racetrack in Topeka, Kansas.

That, as they say, was all she wrote. Todd, who owns a construction company, sold his drag car, bought a used '96 Cobra, and got to work turning it into a full-blown open-track car. He opted to leave the potent Cobra engine alone and concentrate his efforts on tweaking the car's chassis and suspension, while removing a bit of weight. Dropping a few pounds was the easy part. Todd simply added an HPM fiberglass hood, a Cobra racing seat from Sub Sports, and an aluminum driveshaft from Ford Racing Peformance Parts.

Of course the driveshaft wasn't the only modification under the car. Todd got serious with the suspension, again courtesy of HP Motorsport. Up front, he went straight to the head of the class with the Barts Works Short-Long Arm front suspension package. This system completely reengineers the factory suspension geometry by replacing the factory MacPherson strut arrangement with a Koni adjustable coilover strut fitted with Eibach springs and mounted on Barts Works spindles. According to HPM, "This kit improves camber curves, bumpsteer, Ackerman, cornering, braking, ride control, handling, tire life, and has full adjustability."

You can't just beef up the front suspension and leave the rear alone, so Todd stepped up the back end with a pass through the HPM catalog. Out went the stock springs, shocks, and control arms, and on went Koni Yellow shocks, Eibach springs, and HPM Mega Bite Jr. control arms. Tying that package together is a HPM's bolt-in Panhard bar. All told, this system keeps the rearend planted for predictable handling on-track. Joining the stout front and rear suspension packages in harmony is the pairing of a weld-in HPM rollcage and subframe connectors.

With all this gear on Todd's car you might expect to see some huge after-market brakes on too. It's well known that on the road course, brakes are like horsepower on the dragstrip-you simply can't have too much. Still, Todd is getting by just fine with the factory Cobra binders, augmented by Performance Friction pads up front, and Hawk pads in the rear.

All told, Todd's car seems fairly stock, the only other modifications are 4.10 gears, a Torsen diff, and a Pro-5.0 shifter. However, he paid attention to the areas that really mean something on the road course. So if you think that Cobra with the stock engine, the wild paint, and the big wing is gonna be a pushover, don't be surprised if it comes right by you going into the hairpin. Then you'll get a good look at that rear wing. Hey, that thing does look cool.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Stock Four-Valve 4.6
Cylinder Heads Stock
Camshafts Stock
Intake Manifold Stock
Power Adder None
Exhaust MAC H-pipe and mufflers with turndowns
Transmission T45
Rearend 8.8 with Torsen diff and 4.10 gears
ELECTRONICS
Engine Management EEC V
Ignition Stock
Gauges Stock
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Rollcage HP Motorsport
K-Member Stock
Springs Eibach
Struts/Shocks Koni
Rear Suspension HP Motorsport
Wheels AFS Cobra R
Tires Kumho
Brakes Stock