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1997 Ford Mustang Cobra - Snake Charmed
It Took A Modular Cobra To Mesmerize Steve Procko
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.