Tom Wilson
September 1, 2005
Photos By: Mark Wilson

Ford Racing didn't substantially change the suspension, opting for its '00 Cobra R coil springs front and rear, FR500 18x9-inch wheels in chrome, along with 265/35ZR-18 front and 295/35ZR-18 rear BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD tires. Extra braking is supplied by Ford Racing's Brembo-sourced '00 Cobra R front brake kit. That gives it slotted rotors, four-piston calipers, and competition pads. In back, FRPP's competition brake pads were fitted.

Doing their considerable best to cradle your carcass efficiently inside the capsule are '00 Cobra R Recaro seats, plus an FRPP boost and water temperature A-pillar gauge pod. Topping off the catalog items are an SVT 10th Anniversary Mustang Cobra shift knob and boot.

With a few exceptions, we'd have to say the result is what a '60s musclecar could have evolved into. After all, it has mind-bending power-it feels like a healthy 600 cubic inches-and doesn't place any meaningful emphasis on handling, although it isn't bad that way. This coupe was even overseen by a great musclecar aficionado, John Coletti, before he retired as the head of SVE. In fact, it strongly reminds us of John's favorite project car, The Boss. That one sported just over 600 cubic inches of fuel-injected Boss 429 when we drove it.

This project car drives like a modern musclecar, too. It off-handedly slimes the rear tires in First, smokes 'em in Second if you don't lift, and will turn them loose in Third. Acceleration is limited in First gear because you can't get the power down-the traction control is permanently defeated in this car-and takes careful throttle management in Second. But get it in Third and the world starts bending back like the hyperdrive kicked in, and before you know it, it's felony fast.

But whereas the old musclecars were simply hopeless in curves, this one does OK there. Thank the modern tires and reasonable spring and shock rates for the improvement. Mind you, you won't beat any Corvettes on Kentucky backroads with this battle-axe. The front end is definitely too heavy-the entire car is, for that matter-and understeer shows up a bit soon. Then there's all that power under your right foot, so you have to be careful when squeezing the trigger on corner exit, lest the understeer suddenly convert to more than thrilling oversteer.

It's not a sports-car driving position, either. Seemingly designed for apes, this car does nothing to correct the late Cobra's long-armed driving position. The seat goes back far enough for legroom, but then the steering wheel is too far away and the shifter is in another zip code. We had to keep leaning forward out of the seat to reach the shifter, which notched heavily gear-to-gear. The shifter is over-sprung to favor the 3-4 gate, and more than once we pulled back from Fifth and got Fourth instead of Sixth.

And while we're whining, it sure would be nice to have a T56 in a Mustang with a tall Sixth gear. Cars with locomotive torque, like this one, hardly need six gears to get around-three will do it-so why not make Sixth a real chugger like the one in the Dodge Viper? We'd like to see 1,700 rpm at 75 mph. Instead, we habitually saw 2,200 rpm on the freeway, thanks to those 3.73 cogs that lead directly to this car's real issue: its fuel burn. If electric cars had just taken over and they were giving gasoline away, the often single-digit mpg figure and peanut-sized fuel tank combination might make sense, but as it was, we had the car a week and we don't think we went a day without stopping at a gas station. We didn't keep track, but we probably burned $150 worth of premium that week, while admittedly covering more ground than a migrating albatross. Still, should you self-assemble this glorious monster, it could mean a $10 a day commute-or a who-cares attitude when it only comes out on Saturday night.