Dale Amy
August 1, 2003
This is what the world's first 10-second '03 Cobra looks like. Come to think of it, by the time you read this, it may well be one of the first 9-second '03 Cobras.

Horse Sense: For 2003, Paul will likely switch to an ACCEL Gen VII EFI and PHP cam-drive distributor system-a setup that will enable two-step rev limiting.

This is the tale of the world's first 10-second '03 Cobra-a tale that began with the announcement that an '03 Cobra Shootout would form part of the NMRA's season-ending festivities last fall at Bowling Green. Modular-meister Paul Svinicki thought that winning the Shootout would be a nice way to end what was, by his high standards, a fairly mediocre season, so he orchestrated a quick plan of attack.

You may recall that it was Mr. Svinicki and his coworkers at Paul's High Performance who were responsible for putting a brand-new '03 into the 11s with nothing more than air-inlet and exhaust modifications during our initial Cobra drag testing ("Snake Attack," Sept. '02, p. 54), so he already had some idea of what it might take to put his own Sonic Blue snake out front. What it took was an awesome string of consistent 10.90s and 10.80s, for which his shopping list was surprisingly short.

Less than a month before the Shootout, the program began with a good gutting, as Paul and the PHP crew succeeded in shedding nearly 400 pounds of the Cobra's luxury and comfort fat. Even after this rather drastic automotive liposuction, it still weighs in at a plump 3,300 pounds, and by the time Paul squeezes into the cockpit, the scales are back up to around 3,550.

Accelerating this kind of bulk requires a strong dose of power-a good bit of which Paul knew could be prescribed by simply dialing up the boost. So he bolted on one of his PHP blower snout kits-pullied for about 14 psi-and added a fan-equipped intercooler. To keep the Eaton from running short of air, a PHP throttle body, inlet, and high-flow airbox supply extra oxygen via a ram-air cutout in the right headlight bucket. On the exhaust side, Bassani's new Mid-Length headers got the call, along with the company's off-road X-pipe and race mufflers with turndowns. We don't know what's better-the power, or the sound they produce. Speaking of power, this combination made 539 hp on the PHP Dynojet.

The '03 Cobra's revised independent rear suspension is a hardy piece for any sane purpose, but Paul wasn't sure it was quite hardy enough to withstand the combination of all this newfound power and his remarkably brutal 6,000-rpm launches (his starting-line technique is so vicious that it's wise to film it with a long telephoto lens, to avoid contact with some wayward former drivetrain part). So out went the IRS, to be replaced by a 9-inch straight axle filled with Strange Engineering internals and a 3.89 gearset.

The stick was paired with PHP springs and control arms, while up front a full drag setup from Anthony Jones Engineering went on. Penske dampers are used all around, resulting in 60-foot times as quick as 1.42 seconds. At the Shootout, power went through a pro-shifted Tremec TKO five-speed on its way rearward.

To feed all this power, the factory returnless fuel system was deemed to be way out of its league, and it was unceremoniously dumped in favor of a full PHP return-style system with upgraded lines, pump, rails, regulator, and 50-lb/hr injectors. Adequacy of fuel supply was particularly important since Paul had become tempted to try nitrous, specifically Venom's VCN-2000 system.

Those who follow Paul's exploits know he doesn't have much history with the juice. He tells us he was attracted to Venom's system because it seemed user-friendly and, more importantly, smart enough to be nondestructive. The VCN-2000 is a dry, processor-controlled setup popular with the sport-compact crowd. It employs closed-loop fuel enrichment through the injectors, and that automatically shuts itself off if you hit the rev limiter, or if bottle pressure gets too low, or-and this is the best part-if it detects a lean air/fuel condition.

So now you're probably thinking that nitrous is how Paul made the 10s. Uh, well, no. Believe it or not, by the end of the '02 season, Paul had yet to make a full pass with the giggle gas flowing, so nitrous was not a factor in his outstanding, high-10-second performance at Bowling Green. In fact, after winning the Shootout, Paul had time for one more outing back in Michigan where, with the nitrous bottle not even installed, his Cobra ran a blazingly quick 10.20 at 135 mph!

Paul predicts this already stellar e.t. will fall like the Canadian dollar once he uses the Venom's nitrous for a full quarter-mile. He knows this since, on one aborted juice-assisted partial pass, his trap speed was 116 mph at the eighth-mile. The point we're trying to make here is that the PHP Cobra has a whole lot more in it, so please stand by for further reports on what could easily become one of the first 9-second '03 Cobras.

The list of PHP products under the hood includes a high-flow airbox and throttle body, a 14-psi blower snout assembly, fuel rails, a regulator, and 50-lb/hr injectors. Hidden away underneath are Bassani Mid-Length headers, X-pipe, and race mufflers. There's also a twin-fan intercooler under the Cobra's chin. The Venom VCN-2000 nitrous system has not yet made a full pass, but on the Dynojet it raises power from 539 to 650 hp.

Block Stock '03 Cobra
Bore Stock
Stroke Stock
Displacement 281 ci
Crank Stock
Rods Stock
Pistons Stock
Cam Stock
Heads Stock
Valves Stock
Intake Stock
Boost 14 psi, w/PHP blower snout kit
Throttle Body PHP
Mass Air Stock
Injectors PHP 50-lb/hr
Fuel Pumps PHP/Weldon
Headers Bassani Mid-Length
Exhaust Bassani off-road X-pipe, Real Street mufflers
Power Adder Venom VCN-2000 nitrous system
Transmission Tremec TKO in 2002; Lentech AOD Strip Terminator in 2003
Rearend 9-in, w/Strange internals, 3.89 gears
Cage Attac Race Cars 10-point
Engine Management EEC V, tuned by PHPvia DiabloSport chip
Ignition Mallory HyFire VIIC
Gauges {{{Ford}}} Racing Performance Parts and Venom
K-Member Anthony Jones Engineering
Control Arms AJE
Springs/Struts AJE/Penske
Brakes PHP Drag Brake kit
Wheels Weld
Tires Moroso DS-2
Springs/Shocks PHP/Penske
Control Arms PHP
Brakes Stock
Wheels Weld
Tires {{{M}}}&H 28x10x15
Subframes PHP