April 1, 2005

Part of our job as automotive scribes is bringing you examples of outstanding 5.0 Mustangs that you can aspire to someday build yourself. That doesn't mean that you need to copy the car, but we like to bring you cars that really have all pieces in place. Mike Green, a 60-year-old hot-rodder from Indianapolis, Indiana, spent the better part of 10 years bringing his '94 Cobra up to those standards. Mike's Cobra isn't the fastest or most powerful, but it sure has more than enough power to hold its own against 99 percent of the cars you might meet on the street, in what one might call a "serious social encounter."

After a long relationship with several Pontiac Trans Ams and a Ford T-bird, Mike fell in love with the '94 Cobra you see here. Mike still remembers that day: "In May of 1994, at the age of 50, I went to lunch with some guys from work. We went by a Ford dealership, and I saw this new, bright-red Mustang Cobra on the lot. I stopped by just to look at the car, but there was a sold sign on it. But, before we left, a salesman came out and told us it was the only one they had left. He told me that the buyer was having some trouble getting approved for the loan on the car. I left the salesman my work number, and I told him to call me if the deal didn't go through. I got a call three days later, and he told me that if I was still interested that I should stop back by the dealership. I hadn't even discussed the car with my wife at that point. After a few hours of negotiations, I bought the brand-new Cobra. When I drove up in the driveway, my wife flipped!"

After 10,000 miles of break-in and get-acquainted-time, Mike's first stop was Kenny Brown, right in his own hometown of Indy. Kenny's crew installed a number of suspension pieces, the exhaust system, and a set of 3.55 gears.

"The car ran very well," Mike said. "But, one day at a stop light, a newer Z28 pulled up beside me. He beat me by a good 50 feet to the next light. I talked to the guy, and he told me he had a Vortech supercharger on the Camaro. I decided at that time this was going to be the last time a Chevy was going to do that to me!"

At the 60,000-mile mark, Mike met John Stamper of Superchargers Plus, and on went the Vortech S-Trim kit. With little else, the car made 460 hp at the rear wheels, and it was pulling 11.50s at the track. As throughout the car's life, Mike made countless trips to area shows, campaigned it on his daily commute, and used the car for just about any excuse he could come up with when the weather cooperated.

But by 109,000 miles, Mike decided that it was time for a new motor. It wasn't that the stocker was blown up or abused, the reason for the new mill was that Mike had his eye on a 331-inch stoker with 600 hp capabilities. Stamper oversaw the project, working with Wood's Automotive Machine to fortify a stock block with a stud girdle and a Scat stroker kit. Taking advantage of another local shop that is nationally recognized as a leader in its field, Aerohead Racing Components (Indy Cylinder Heads) did up a set of Edelbrock Performer heads specially prepped for the blower applications. John rounded out the combo with a camshaft from Anderson Ford, a Vortech intake, and other solid valvetrain goodies.

Along the way, Mike has been forced to upgrade the drivetrain. "We installed a Tremec 3550 and a clutch from a company I won't name," Mike told us. "It was a steel one, and it just was not streetable. We went back to the Centerforce Dual Friction, which works well-to say the least."

John kept a lot of the parts on this car stock or near-stock for as long as he could. And a lot of that engineering makes it more streetable-an attribute that Mike sure is happy with. We think we would be kind in saying that 38 lb/hr injectors are marginal for this application. But, John has kept the boost low (12 psi) and the rpm range sane (Mike shifts around 5,500 rpm), so the whole thing seems to be working well together for now. For this kind of motor, with 18-plus psi, we'd like to see at least 72 lb/hr injectors in the car. But, for driving back and forth to car shows with a quick blast through the bottom two gears at a stop light, Mike has the perfect mix of parts.

Is the finished project just what Mike wanted? You bet. Here's how Mike summed up his Cobra: "It's a fun car for me. I drive it to all the shows. I bought it brand new, and over the last 10 years, I've just added a little bit at a time. Oh, I drive it. I've gone to St. Louis, all over Illinois, and to Bowling Green for the NMRA World Finals. It uses a lot of gas, but it'll go anywhere I want it to!"

John recently built and dyno tested a clone to Mike's car, and it cranked off 644 rwhp without breaking a sweat. That car runs 10.80s with ease, so Mike thinks he's right in that same performance range. Like many street cars that are on that edge of street and race, Mike has some tough decisions to make for the future of this Cobra. To his credit, he already knows that he needs more fuel system (at least 50 lb/hr injectors and the lines, rails, and pump to feed them), some exhaust upgrades, more suspension, and a roll cage. He's already been told that he's no longer welcome at his home track, Indianapolis Raceway Park. So, a cage is a must-do if he ever wants to get back to the track.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of this car is that Mike is still running around with the stock rear differential and axles in place with just a set of 3.73 gears added. With this kind of power, puking an axle at 100 mph is a reality, so we were relieved when Mike told us the spool and race axles are in the mail.

So, the modifications and upgrades continue for Mike Green, perhaps just like your project Mustang. Where they stop, no one knows for sure. Mike's wife is so attuned to the attraction that he has for his Cobra that she teases him by calling the car "Precious." To that we say, "It's OK, Mrs. Green, it is only going to get worse now that the car has been featured in the pages of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords magazine!"

Block Stock {{{Ford}}} block with two-bolt mains and stud girdle
Displacement 331ci
Cylinder Heads Edelbrock Performer ported by Indy Cylinder Heads (63cc combustion chamber)
Camshaft Custom Anderson Ford Motorsport blower grind (hydraulic)
Intake Manifold Extrude Honed Vortech upper/Ford truck lower
Throttle Body Accufab 75mm
Power Adder Vortech S-Trim with Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe
Exhaust FRPP ceramic-coated short-tube 15¼8-inch headers; MAC 21¼2-inch H-pipe; Flowmaster after-cat
Fuel System 255-lph in-tank pump with Vortech T-Rex external kicker pump
Transmission Tremec 3550 five-speed
Rearend Stock 8.8-inch with 3.73 gears
Engine Management Stock with SuperChips Custom Tuning chip
Ignition MSD 6DTM ignition and Blaster coil; Taylor Pro Race 409 ignition wires
Gauges Auto Meter tachometer; Auto Meter water, oil, fuel boost gauges; Computech EGT
K-Member Stock
A-Arms Stock
Springs Kenny Brown 111/42-inch lowering springs
Struts Lakewood 70/30
Wheels AFS 17x8 Cobra R
Tires Nitto 255
Brakes Stock Cobra
Springs Kenny Brown 111/42-inch lowering springs
Shocks Lakewood 50/50
Control Arms Stock
Traction Devices Kenny Brown upper and lower control arms; Kenny Brown “Track-It Plus” suspension
Wheels AFS 17x10.5 Cobra R
Tires Nitto 315-35R
Brakes Stock Cobra
Chassis Stiffening Kenny Brown subframe connectors