Steve Statham
March 1, 2003

Horse Sense: Axis Industries doesn't have just 4.6 turbo kits--it also recently released one for '97-and-up V-6 Mustangs. The new kit includes a custom Spearco intercooler, a Turbonetics Deltagate wastegate, an Innovative T04 turbo, silicone hose connectors and high-strength hose clamps, an inline fuel pump, an FMU, and a high-flow air filter. The kit will set you back $4,200.

As always, when something new arrives in the world, you have your unbelievers. What's new right now is this eight-second, stock-looking '98 Cobra, along with the race-only turbo kit developed on the car and offered for sale by Axis Industries [(210) 523-6581;] of Leon Valley, Texas.

The Cobra's owner, Tim Palmer of San Antonio, has faith in new strategies. He built the Cobra with Outlaw racing in mind, although he's running in modular classes until the car is completely sorted. The Cobra ran a 9.08 on its first pass and subsequently hit a best of 8.86 at 156 mph using only 17 pounds of boost. After raising the boost, Tim turned an 8.36 e.t. at 160 mph during qualifying for the Modular Shootout in Maryland in June. That explains the wheelie bars and parachute, but some doubters haven't been able to see past the stock-looking exterior.

"In Houston, it was hilarious," Rob Tynmann, president of Axis Industries, says. "You get quite a few people [at the race] who are gambling. They all get together in groups. They do a little bit of mouthing off. And they were all looking at Tim, this little short guy, with this car with no hoodscoop, and wheelie bars and a parachute. And they're laughing at him. We never even opened the hood in Houston and they just laughed their tails off. After the first pass, they all kind of clammed up a bit."

Even more surprising than the stock looks is the fact the Cobra runs that fast with stock heads and cams. "It's not setting the world on fire," Rob says, "but when you start thinking about 281 ci running that fast with stock heads and cams-the guys who know realize it's a pretty big accomplishment."

Tim kept the close-to-stock look throughout the interior, and even maintained comforts such as the power windows. Front seats are from Corbeau. Auto Meter gauges are mounted in Florida 5.0 gauge pods. The Axis intercooler tucks neatly under the dash.

Tim had previously raced a 10-second '90 LX powered by a supercharged mod motor. Racing rule-book changes banning that combination motivated him to create his soon-to-be Outlaw, but it was his wife, Barbra, who made the ultimate sacrifice by donating her daily driven, supercharged '98 Chrome Yellow Cobra to the cause. She requested the car retain its factory look, though, and Tim worked hard to oblige. "My biggest goal was to make it look as much like a street car as I could," he says.

The '97 cylinder heads used in that LX survive in the new car, atop the Sean Hyland Motorsport short-block. But beyond that, the Cobra is a major departure from Tim's old ride.

Tim rents shop space at Axis and performed most of the work himself, except for the 10-point rollcage from Wolfe Race Craft and the Axis-designed motor plates. Working with Rob and Mike Noriega, head fabricator at Axis, the trio paid particular attention to airflow through the engine.

The crew created a unique intake manifold by modifying a Hamilton Clark piece. "It has a cast top that goes with it and little-bitty velocity stacks that go inside," Rob says. "We didn't like the positioning of the throttle body, so we went ahead and-from the runners up-threw it all away and built it all from scratch. The throttle body actually goes under the intake manifold. It has a pretty nice way of getting the air from the throttle body up to the runners themselves. It's a bit different than what some of the other sheetmetal manufacturers are doing. We have a little different train of thought on how air should flow. It seems to be working all right. I think whatever we hit on was pure luck, but it seems to be a nice combination on Tim's car."

The Sean Hyland Motorsport 78500 short-block is fitted with forged pistons, turbo-spec rings, billet rods, tri-metal rod and main bearings, deck plates, and a stud girdle. People are surprised to learn Tim's engine uses stock '97 heads and cams, but the factory pieces work well with his high-velocity airflow strategy.

One of the goals for the induction system was high velocity. "Everything on the car is small, other than the 91mm turbo," Rob says. "It has very small headers, 1 5/8 inches. We were firm believers in high velocity, so we made everything on the small side-smaller than your average race car. We maintained that all the way through the runners. Everything we did on the intake manifold was small and had a real short cross-section to keep velocity up. That may be some of the reason Tim is running so well, in conjunction with the Four-Valve heads. They really are a premium set of heads. They're stock, but Ford did some homework on them."

The turbo setup relies on a 91.5mm Precision Industries Thumper turbocharger, an HKS wastegate, Axis custom headers and crossover pipe, and 5-inch exhaust with modified DynoMax mufflers. The underdash intercooler is a four-core Axis custom utilizing Spearco cores.

Packaging can be a problem when combining the Cobra engine with a turbocharger, but Tim found room. The narrow Griffin radiator is offset to one side to allow room for the turbo, and a Meziere electric water pump cleans things up further. "There's a surprising amount of room in the front of that engine once you get all the regular stuff out of the way," Rob says.

Tim aims to compete in Outlaw, but he started the car in modular classes while working out the bugs. He has made quick progress, winning the Pro Mod class at the Modular Shootout in Maryland in June.

The Cobra engine did have some other quirks that needed to be addressed before running this fast. "Ignition is the biggest pain," Tim says. He deferred to "people who know" for much of the final engine-management tuning, enlisting Mike Murillo at Murillo Motorsports to custom-tune the FAST sequential fuel injection and EDIS 8 module.

At the time of this writing, the Cobra had been up and running only about three months. In that time, Tim steadily progressed through regional and then national events, before winning the (admittedly small) Pro Mod class at the Modular Challenge. He's come a long way in a short while, under the radar. Sneaky, you might say.

Tim Palmer's yellow Cobra is a unique race car, but it probably won't stay that way for long. Axis Industries is offering the race-only Four-Valve mod-motor turbo kit for sale, in base form or loaded with every option used on Tim's car.

If you're scratching your head wondering where Axis Industries came from, look to the diesel-powered tow rig. The company's primary business is with Mack trucks, Cummins Diesel, and the like. Axis designs and builds prototype engine parts for diesel-engine lubrication-testing facilities. The company started taking on performance parts as a side job, to fill the gaps between slow periods. "It's such a passionate sport, it's hard not to get drawn into it," Axis president Rob Tynmann says.

The base Cobra Mod Motor Turbo Kit from Axis includes a GTB 88mm turbo from Innovative Turbo Systems, a 2-inch Indy Gate wastegate, powdercoated mild-steel inlet tubing, a mild steel downpipe with Straightline Performance muffler, an underdash liquid-to-air intercooler, stainless steel headers and crossover with V-band clamps, and silicone connectors and T-bolt clamps. The intake manifold, as used on Tim's car, is one of several upgrades.

The base price for the kit is $9,990. Expect a three-to-four-week turnaround time on orders.

Block Sean Hyland Motorsport
  Cobra short-block
Heads ’97 Cobra
Camshafts ’97 Cobra
Intake Hamilton Clarke Mongoose lower,
custom upper custom upper
Fuel Pump Weldon 2025A
Exhaust Axis custom stainless headers
  and crossover
Power Adder Precision Industries
  91.5mm Thumper turbo
Intercooler Axis Industries custom
Transmission TranzKing two-speed
Driveshaft Unlimited Driveshafts custom,
  Axis safety loop
Rearend 8.8, Moser 33-spline axles,
  Strange 33-spline spool, 3.73 FRPP gears
Engine Management FAST with EDIS 8
  module, tuned by Murillo Motorsports
Ignition MSD DIS 4, ACCEL coil packs
Gauges Auto Meter
K-Member Anthony Jones
  Engineering chrome-moly,
  w/adjustable A-arms
Steering Flaming River manual
  rack and steering shaft
Struts AJE coilover strut and spindle,
  caster/camber plates
Springs AJE coilover
Brakes Aerospace discs
Wheels Bogart
Tires Mickey Thompson
Traction Device Wolfe Race Craft
  chrome alloy double rollbar, upper
  adjustable control arms w/spherical axle mounts, lower adjustable control arms
Shocks QA1 adjustable
Springs Stock
Brakes Aerospace discs
Wheels Bogart
Tires Mickey Thompson