Eric English
April 1, 2003
Photos By: Dale Amy

Horse Sense:While the Vortech product line includes S- and T-Trim blowers for both modular and pushrod Mustang applications, the lineup changes a bit when stepping up from there. Pushrod applications would find the YS-Trim next in line, while the counterclockwise modular step up is known as the JT-Trim. With 4-inch inlet/3-inch discharge dimensions, 1,450-cfm airflow, and nearly 30 pounds of boost capability, the JT-Trim is a piece that's suited for as much as 1,000 hp.

More often than not, the long arm of the law seems to frown on those of us involved with hot cars-at least that's what many of us perceive. Frankly, some have brought such wrath on themselves by pulling crazy stunts on the street. On other occasions, the guy behind the badge seems to believe anyone with a powerful car is irresponsible. Of course, we enjoy discovering exceptions to the latter instance, which is just one of the reasons we're featuring David Timm's speedy '97 Cobra drop-top.

You see, David is sworn to uphold the law as a deputy sheriff in Illinois' Sangamon County, but he's clearly off the deep end when it comes to hot street 'Stangs. No, that doesn't mean he can look the other way if he catches you in the act of a moving violation in your own ponycar, but he clearly understands the affliction that comes from big power under the hood.

Plain and simple, big power was exactly what David was after when he purchased his Rio Red convertible from the original owner in 2000. The purchase coincided with his hiring as a law enforcement officer and was thought to provide a better cop image than his previous ride-a Vortech-blown Dodge Neon that was featured in a number of the import magazines. Yeah, whatever. David says his fellow officers are interested in his newest crusade for horsepower, so maybe there's hope next time you see the flickering light bar of a police cruiser in the rearview mirror.

While this is actually David's first foray into the Mustang scene, he knew he wanted the top-dog Cobra for its Four-Valve power potential. The car has been tapped through an assortment of power-building accessories, namely a Vortech JT-Trim blower that's pullied to make more than 20 pounds of boost. Of course, that kind of stress can't be withstood by a stock modular short-block, so in its place is a Fox Lake Power Products-assembled 4.6, chock full of ModMax internals including H-beam rods, forged pistons, a main cap girdle, a windage tray, and more. Power with the JT-Trim hasn't been measured yet, but the prior combination with an S-Trim and Power Cooler yielded a claimed 500 ponies and 415 lb-ft, as read on the Dynojet at Lucky Performance in Memphis, Tennessee.

Good as the Vortech-blower/Four-Valve combination is, the 500hp mark isn't eclipsed without substantial supporting hardware. In David's case, he's upped the ante in the fuel department with a complete Aeromotive system, including an A1000 pump, -8 and -6 fuel lines, billet rails, filters, and an adjustable regulator. The stated dyno numbers were achieved with 42-lb/hr injectors and a FAST computer system tuned by T.J. Tracey at Advanced Performance Fuel Injection and Electronics in Memphis, Tennessee. MAC long-tubes, a MAC H-pipe, and MagnaFlow muffs are solid contributors to the overall performance-not to mention improved audio.

Turning to the supporting cast of underpinnings, we find the stock but admirable Cobra four-wheel discs still in place, surrounded by 18-inch Voxx (formerly Fittipaldi) rims and Nitto NT555 rubber. Front suspension upgrades include a Granatelli Motor Sports tubular K-member, tubular A-arms, a coilover kit, and Hotchkis caster/camber plates. Changes out back are more limited, consisting solely of Eibach springs, but expect that to change down the road.

We have to be honest with you. Two weeks before our photo shoot at World Ford Challenge 5, David smoked several of the glass-jawed pistons in the stock modular 4.6. With inadequate turnaround time before the event, we kept our appointment and were impressed by the smoke show, which emanated from the exhaust turndowns. Teardown of the whole shebang gave David the opportunity to make some upgrades to the combination that weren't present when we took the pics, so we've tried to note them in the text.

David's long-term intention for the Cobra is fairly simple and amounts to little more than a high-profile, high-horsepower driver. That said, there will undoubtedly be a number of passes down the quarter-mile to prove its mettle, so to speak, which will surely follow installation of an upcoming 10-point rollcage. We'd think the legal speed contests would also put David's coworkers at ease, being an indicator that all that power isn't being used for some less-than-honorable activities.

When the engine isn't singing its song, the sound system usually is. Twin 15-inch subs, six speakers, and two Phoenix Gold XS series amps assure the tunes won't be missed. Other accouterments include Konig Buzz buckets and an array of Auto Meter's sweet Phantom gauges-one of which is a two-channel intake-temp monitor, which showed the charge temperature difference on each side of the Vortech Power Cooler. However, since switchingto the JT-Trim, the Power Cooler has been removed, as approaching the 600hp level is where the cooler begins to sign off. You'll also notice a stick shifter in these photos, but David has since switched to a Bowler Transmissions-built 4R70W and 2,800-stall converter.

David is quick to point out the help he's obtained from friends and corporate entities during the Cobra's buildup. The previously mentioned T.J. Tracey has done the invaluable tuning, while T.J. Look at TNT Motorsports is credited with much of the actual wrench bending. On the manufacturer side, David found the good graces of Aeromotive, Vortech, Fox Lake Power Products, Auto Meter, and MSD, all of whom made valuable contributions. Advertising the goods fell to the graphics guys at Canham Graphics in Springfield, Illinois, who did a bang-up job in assuring this '97 will never go unnoticed.

Being noticed seems a constant theme in David's transportation since his work ride is a marked Chevy Impala. We wonder if there should be something in his inventory that allows for lower-profile travel if the mood ever suits. Now that David made the switch in brand loyalty, we'll remind him that SVT has a couple other nameplates in its arsenal that would make a perfect complement to this nasty, open-air snake. Any votes for a Lightning or Focus?

5.0 Tech Specs

Block ’97 Cobra prepped by Fox Lake
  w/ModMax components
Displacement 281ci
Heads Fox Lake–ported ’97 Cobra
Camshafts Stock
Intake Stock
Throttle Body Stock
Fuel System Aeromotive A1000 pump,
  fuel rails, dual billet filters, –8 feed and –6 return lines, 72-lb injectors
Exhaust MAC long-tubes, MAC H-pipe,
  MagnaFlow mufflers
Power Adder Vortech JT-Trim
  w/Mondo blowoff valve
Transmission Bowler Transmissions
  4R70W w/2,800-stall converter
Rearend 8.8 w/4.30 gears and
  Strange 28-spline axles

Engine Management FAST
Ignition MSD DIS-4
Gauges Auto Meter
K-Member Granatelli Motor Sports
Struts Stock
Springs Granatelli Motor Sports
Brakes Stock
Wheels Voxx Argus 18x8.5-in
Tires Nitto NT555 245/40-18
Shocks Stock
Springs Eibach
Brakes Stock
Wheels Voxx Argus 18x10-in
Tires Nitto NT555 275/35R18