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1997 Ford Mustang Cobra - Breaking The Law
For Tim And Stephanie Roi, Two Wrongs Made A Right
Good things seldom result when laws are broken, but, despite the well-known adage to the contrary, a combination of wrongs occasionally ends up being just right.
"She awoke to see nothing but the hood of our cherished Cobra, and dust from the airbags that had deployed. As she looked around, she saw the VW Jetta resting on the sidewalk against the traffic pole, its driver with a shocked and terrified look on his face. As she tried to get out of our destroyed Cobra, she suddenly felt faint and started to collapse. She was caught part way down by a helpful motorist that looked as if he had just stepped out of a '70s biker movie. He helped her to the ground, then suddenly started screaming into a radio, 'He's running, he's running eastbound toward the beach!'"
The foregoing is Tim Roi's partial account of the first wrong of our story, wherein the aforementioned VW had made a sudden and inexplicable left turn from an oncoming lane, directly into the 40-mph path of the '96 black, blown Cobra being driven by his wife, Stephanie. The "biker" who came to her aid turned out to be an undercover cop, and his frantic radio call soon resulted in the bolting Jetta driver being nabbed. "Following a short foot chase," says Tim, "the coward was caught and arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident, driving without a license, failing to yield, and the list goes on."
The net result for the Rois? Their Cobra was written off, Stephanie's back was hurt, and to add insult to injury, this all took place on her birthday. After arguing at some length with an apparently uncooperative insurance company that will remain unnamed since they have more lawyers than we do, Tim and Stephanie eventually applied their settlement toward a yellow '98 Cobra convertible that they still own. But they also got the tattered remains of their '96 Cobra back, including the Vortech S-Trim that had miraculously survived the impact.
This brings us to the second wrong of our tale, a wholly separate event that takes considerably less explanation: Some scumbag cretin stole someone else's '97 Cobra coupe with only 4,000 miles on the clock, stripped it to the bone, and left it for dead. Tim's employer at the time, Unlimited Performance Racing, in Lake Worth, Florida, then acquired the theft-recovery unibody shell. Recognizing this as an opportunity, Tim bought the naked unibody from UPR and started transferring parts to it off his wrecked '96.
Naturally, the now not-so-naked shell needed an engine, and since Tim had boost in mind, he started off with a new '03 Cobra-spec cast-iron block, and ordered up some Manley H-beam rods and CP pistons dished for 8.5:1 compression. These, as well as a stock Cobra steel crank, were shipped off to Al Papitto's Boss 330 Racing for assembly into a tough short-block. Meanwhile, Tim scoured eBay and came up with a set of '98 Four-Valve heads, complete with cams, and a '96 Cobra intake (hey, that's why they call them "modular" engines). He performed a mild port job on the heads, and did the same on the intake, shortening the runners a bit in the process. As we said, his old Vortech S-Trim had managed to survive the collision, so it was pullied for 12 psi and bolted on, plumbed through a new Paxton air-to-air intercooler. To make this mish-mash of modular hardware work cohesively, he called upon Chris Johnson of Superchips Custom Tuning to flash-tune the '98-spec EEC-V, and the result was 480 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels on the Sean Hyland Motorsports Dynojet. Continuing to merge stuff from different generations of snake, he backed up the powerplant with the T45 five-speed salvaged from his wrecked '96, using a Terminator Cobra clutch and flywheel between.