Michael Johnson Associate Editor
August 1, 2002

Horse Sense:
Ralph Greene purchased his first Mustang brand-new, way back in 1966. The fastback featured a 289 four-barrel, a three-speed transmission, and a Deluxe interior. Later, Deluxe interiors became known as Pony interiors because of the ponies across the upper seatback. Dueto his growing family, Ralph ended up selling the car not long after he bought it. We don't think he'll have the same problem with the Cobra.

The gentleman told Ralph it wouldn't do 155 mph with the wing on it.

The car dyno'd at 573 hp at 7,300 rpm and 460 lb-ft at 5,900

Saving money is embedded into our heads early in life. As kids, we're told not to spend the dish-washing money at one place-even though we only made $5 on the deal. In high school, the economics teacher hammered us with "fail to plan, plan to fail" rhetoric, saying if we don't start investing by age 25, don't plan on retiring. As adults, we notice the countless TV ads touting the latest investment packages involving 401ks, CDs (not the kind that play music), stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the like. With so many investment options, it's difficult to make sense out of it all, or even know where to start. One person who knows where to start is Ralph Greene of Longwood, Florida. Then again, he should-he's a retired Merrill Lynch vice president.

Ralph also knew where to start when modifying his Laser Red '98 Cobra. After retiring in 1998, Ralph and his wife, Sandy, began looking for a car to have fun with. They looked at everything from Porsches to BMWs, but it was a Mustang club meeting that convinced them they needed to be in a Mustang. The meeting was held by the Mid-Florida Mustang Club, and Ralph and Sandy liked the fact that the club members did a lot of charitable work in the community. The next day, Ralph ordered the wingless Cobra you see here.

The reason for the lack of a wing is because Ralph had talked to someone deep within Ford (he won't say who) about the effect of the wing on top-end performance. A stock '98 Cobra was supposed to be able to do 155 mph, but the gentleman told Ralph it wouldn't do 155 mph with the wing on it. So Ralph ordered the car wingless. Not that he hits that speed on every trip to the grocery store, but he wanted the car to be able to do it.

What Ralph did think necessary were modifications-lots of them. "I started doing the little things that a North Caro-lina boy starts with," Ralph says. His first mod was the addition of 3.73 gears at Powered By Ford [(407) 843-3673] in Orlando, Florida. After the gear swap, he decided it was time to expand his power portfolio. This yearning for more power led him to LaMotta Performance [(407) 695-4549] in Longwood, Florida.

Once under the advice and tutelage of LaMotta Performance, the Cobra's performance return paid big dividends. First to be added to the stock powerplant was a Vortech S-Trim. With just the addition of the blower, the car made roughly 400 hp at the wheels.

Up next was the addition of a Griggs Racing K-member complete with tubular A-arms and caster/camber plates. What's unique about the swap is that Ralph retained the Tokico Illumina five-way struts up front with the Griggs coilover kit. All told, the K-member removed 65 pounds from the nose of the Cobra. Out back, the suspension was treated to '95 Cobra R springs, corresponding Tokico Illumina five-way shocks, and Steeda upper and lower control arms.

While 400 hp at the wheels is good, power spiked once again when LaMotta swapped out the original Four-Valve for a Sean Hyland 575hp long-block. The long-block boasts forged internals and Stage 1 heads and cams. To meet the 575hp designation, Sean Hyland recommends a blower capable of compressing 12-14 pounds of boost into the combustion chambers. To this end, the Vortech S-Trim was treated to an impeller upgrade, an Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe, and a Fast Track Performance intercooler. In a truth-in-advertising, perfect world, the car dyno'd at 573 hp at 7,300 rpm and 460 lb-ft at 5,900-just about spot-on with the claims of Sean Hyland.

Amazingly enough, the original T45 still resides behind the Four-Valve, but that's mostly because it has received the application of a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter, a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, and a Ford Racing Performance Parts heavy-duty pressure plate. The stock flywheel remains in place as well.

Remember we mentioned Ralph's first modification to the car being 3.73 gears? Well, including that first gear swap, he's had the gears changed four times. After the initial 3.73s, he swapped to 3.55s, then back to 3.73s, and he's now settled into the current 4.10 gears right nicely. When asked which gear he likes best, Ralph is quick to sing the 4.10s' praises. "The 4.10s move the cruise rpm above the exhaust-drone range," he says.

After all, Ralph wanted the car to be a good driver that he can jump in and take anywhere. We think he's accomplished that goal. These days, the 60-year-young Ralph rides his bike, watches the stock market, keeps his pool clean, and travels a lot. Now that's what we call investing in fun.

Engine And Drivetrain
EngineSean Hyland 575hp long-block
Cylinder HeadsSean Hyland Stage 1
Intake ManifoldStock
CamshaftsSean Hyland Stage 1
Power AdderVortech S-Trim with impeller upgrade, 3.33 pulley, Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe, Fast Track Performance intercooler
ExhaustFRPP short-tube headers, Bassani high-flow X-pipe, Bassani Quiet Thunder after-cat
Fuel PumpTwin Walbro 255-lph, Kenne-Bell Boost-A-Pumps
Fuel Injectors42-lb/hr Lightning
Throttle BodyStock
Mass Air MeterPro-M adjustable 80mm
TransmissionTTC T45, Steeda Tri-Ax shifter
ClutchCenterforce Dual Friction, FRPP heavy-duty pressure plate, stock flywheel
Rearend8.8, Auburn Pro differential, Moser 31-spline axles, FRPP 4.10 gears

Electronics
Engine ManagementEEC V with Superchips custom tune
IgnitionMSD DIS-4
GaugesAuto Meter electric fuel-pressure and boost gauges

Suspension And Chassis
SpringsGriggs 350-lb coilovers (front), ’95 Cobra R (rear)
Struts/ShocksTokico five-way Illumina
Rear SuspensionSteeda upper and lowers
WheelsBBS RK 18x8.5 (front), 18x10 (rear)
TiresNitto NT555, 245/40 (front), 285/35 (rear)
BrakesStock
K-MemberGriggs Racing with tubular A-arms and caster/camber plates
Subframe ConnectorsSteeda/FRPP, driveshaft loop