Dale Amy
December 1, 2004
Photos By: Chuck James

Some of us seem to come galloping out of the birth canal already burning up with an advanced case of Mustang fever. Others take a little more time-and travel a much more circuitous route-before finally succumbing to this great, if occasionally expensive, affliction. As with many infectious diseases, those who are stricken later in life can often be hit hardest.

For most of his 53 years, Floridian Steve Procko appeared normal enough, having a healthy but not overpowering interest in motorcycles and musclecars. Sure, he drag raced a '62 Corvette in the late '60s, and in the following decade he built a shovel-pan Harley that he toured-Fonda-like-around this great country for a couple years. But then respon-sibility took hold, and Steve's Easy Rider lifestyle gave way to family-raising. In other words, all was proceeding along life's normal course, until the kids grew up and moved on, leaving Steve and his wife with more free time and maybe some disposable income. We all know that can be a dangerous com-bination, and the Prockos soon found themselves proud owners of a '95 Mustang GT that Steve began "playing around with."

Still, his approach to Mustanging was cautious and fiscally responsible-at least until the day he went and looked at a for-sale '96 Cobra. In Steve's words, "I opened the hood and thought, I got to get one of these!" We'd have to guess it was those fat Four-Valve heads that got to him, no doubt stirring sleeping memories of Boss 9s and SOHC 427s back in the day. Yet, he was able to resist the call of the Cammer right up to the point where he found a "mint '97 Cobra in Indiana with very low mileage." On our atlas, Indiana is quite a distance from Florida, so we have to assume Steve was looking fairly hard by then.

Out went the slightly modified GT and home came the modular Cobra. That was back in 2000, and as Steve admits, "As time went on, I got deeper into the Mustang hobby." Uh, no kidding. One look at the perfectly polished mass of mechanical mayhem under the hood of this Rio Red coupe confirms that he's now one of us, and that his kids can basically forget about any future inheritance-unless it comes in the form of a bored, stroked, and blown DOHC Cobra.

For a relative newcomer, Steve seems to know his stuff. With a Kenne Bell screw blower on the horizon, he decided to treat the snake to a new short-block and was soon on the horn with VT Competition Engines in Lansing, Michigan, ordering a 5.0 stroker kit based on one of its 3.75-inch forged cranks, with Eagle rods and 0.020-over CP pistons, dished for about 9.3:1 compression. These found a home in an aluminum block pried out of an '01 Explorer.

Head-porting and engine final-assembly duties were assigned to Al Papitto's Boss 330 Racing, where custom- grind Crane cams went onboard and the factory intake manifold runner control plates went on the scrap heap. Air meters through a Pro-M 87mm MAF and Accufab oval throttle body, while a Walbro 255-lph in-tank pump supplies 42-lb/hr injectors with sufficient fuel pressure to balance out the Kenne Bell's 10 psi of boost. A stock EDIS ignition remains onboard, helped out by a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Spark, MSD wires, and Denso plugs. The exhaust system mixes BBK long-tube headers and H-pipe with Flowmaster mufflers and DynoMax 2.5-inch tailpipes. The result is 407 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque arriving at the 275/40x17 Nitto 555 Extremes.

The Nittos get a lot of help from Steeda chassis bits, beginning with the South Florida firm's subframe connectors, Sport springs, and favored Tokico Illumina five-way adjustable dampers. Up front, Steeda also fitted caster/camber plates, a bumpsteer kit, and its X2 ball joints. Out back, Steeda's upper and lower control arms are teamed with Bilstein quad shocks to keep Steve's 8.8-inch axle under control. Said axle is pumped up with Moser 31-spline axles, an Auburn Pro diff, and 4.30 gears. With those steep cogs, Steve is happy he ponied up for one of D&D Performance's ultrastrong Viper T56 six-speeds, with its highway-happy 0.50 Sixth gear overdrive ratio. D&D also supplied the McLeod Dual-Friction clutch and King Cobra pressure plate.

There's plenty more hardware, but what really clinches the deal when scoping out Steve's Cobra is its luscious level of detail, as evidenced not just by the museum-quality engine bay, but also by little touches such as the Passport SR1 radar-detection system with remote front and rear sensors, and its display unit tastefully custom fitted into the clock pod on the dash-not to mention the Pro-M high/low-speed electric fan temperature control switch integrated into the former ashtray. Such attention to detail leaves us to conclude that now that Steve has fallen victim to the spell of late-model Mustangs, he is totally and joyously consumed by them. Welcome to the club.

Block '01 {{{Explorer}}} aluminum
Bore 3.572
Stroke 3.75
Displacement 302 ci
Crank VT Competition Engines forged stroker
Rods {{{Eagle}}} forged steel
Pistons CP forged, 9.3:1
Cams Crane Cams
Heads '97 Cobra, ported by Boss 330 Racing
Intake Kenne Bell "Open House"
Mass Air Pro-M 87mm
Throttle Body Accufab oval
Injectors 42 lb/hr
Fuel Pump Walbro 255/340
Headers BBK long-tube
Exhaust BBK H-pipe, w/Flowmasters and DynoMax 2.5-in tailpipes
Power Adder Kenne Bell Twin-Screw 1.5 liter
Transmission D&D Performance Viper T56 six-speed
Rearend 8.8 live axle, Moser 31-spline
axles, 4.30 gears, Auburn Pro
Engine Management EEC V w/Superchips Custom Tuning chip
Ignition Stock EDIS with KB Boost-A-Spark
Front Suspension
K-Member Stock
Control Arms Stock, w/Steeda X2 ball joints and bumpsteer kit
Springs/Struts Steeda Sport/Tokico five-way
Brakes Brembo calipers, Baer 13-in EradiSpeed rotors and Rotex pads
Wheels Chrome Cobra R, 17x9
Tires Nitto 555, 275/40x17
Rear Suspension
Springs/Shocks Steeda Sport/Tokico five-way
Control Arms Steeda upper and lower
Brakes Stock calipers, Baer EradiSpeed rotors, Hawk pads
Wheels Chrome Cobra R, 17x9
Tires Nitto 555, 275/40x17
Subframes Steeda full-length