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."