Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
February 11, 2006
Photos By: Dale Amy

Horse Sense: DiabloSport's MAF.ia-which Nate used on his wife Melanie's Cobra-recalibrates the signal output from a stock mass air meter to help support the needs of cars with forced induction. The MAF.ia also eliminates the need for a calibrated mass airflow meter for bigger fuel injectors.

Throughout life, there are rewards for being a good kid, accomplishing certain goals, or doing a good job. When you're a good kid (we wouldn't know anything about that), you might get an allowance or a toy, or you're taken to Taco Bell for lunch every so often. Most of the time, when you're a good employee (we don't know anything about that, either), you get an annual raise or a bonus. And we've all heard about people who receive extravagant gifts for graduating high school or college. The Cobra you see here is the result of the latter-a graduation present from Nate Phillips to his wife, Melanie, for earning a nursing degree.

At least that's what Nate tells us. Even if there were a hidden agenda, however, we couldn't think of a better present than an '03-'04 Mustang Cobra. Even in stock form, we've seen them run in the mid-12s at 113-114 mph on the factory Goodyears-but Melanie's Cobra didn't stay stock long.

Some background will help you understand the direction Nate took with Melanie's car. He's always been into drag racing, and he was even crew chief for a time for Super Street Outlaw legend John "The Fireball" Urist. With that kind of boosted background, there was only one route to take, which was straight for the factory supercharged Mustang Cobra-an '04 model to be specific.

The sleeper theme was also carried over into the interior of the Cobra, as the cabin is devoid of any look-at-me bling. The absence of a 'cage further personifies the car's street-worthiness with nothing inhibiting ingress/egress. Nate obviously didn't want Melanie to ruin her scrubs by climbing over a rollcage.

But even getting the car in the first place proved to be a challenge. "I bought the car from a dealership in Oregon," Nate says. "I had them ship it to Las Vegas, and I flew in and drove it home two days before Melanie's graduation." To keep the car a secret, Nate stored it at his shop until the graduation party. He says Melanie didn't suspect a thing, even after he flew to Vegas and drove the car back home to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Right away, Nate contacted John Urist (now of Hellion Power Systems) about doing a turbo kit. John was busy building Fox and New Edge Two-Valve single-turbo kits, so Nate had to wait before he could start on an '03-'04 Cobra turbo kit. The Cobra went to Hellion for the turbo swap with only 3,200 miles on the odometer, and it was barely finished in time to make it to the '05 World Ford Challenge. But Nate first took the Cobra to The Dyno Edge, where only three pulls were needed to get a good tune. The car responded with a best of 11.47 at 129 mph. Nate says the stock clutch was going away each pass.

Even though the stock clutch couldn't handle the powerful truth, John tells us the engine was a natural for turbocharging because it's stout from the factory. "The turbo makes so much power, and the engine can take it." He went on to say the factory Four-Valve Cobra engine can support from 600 to 800 hp, so this kit ($6,795) was a no-brainer. Playing with the tune and turning up the boost resulted in 808 hp and 764 lb-ft of torque with 23 pounds of boost.

If you're a nurse, the Cobra could come in handy. If a patient came in without a heartbeat, Melanie could use the car as a rolling defibrillator. But maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea-people might complain of chest pains just to get an 800hp ride...and stat.

With a nothing-to-see-here exterior, Melanie's Cobra looks as if it's destined for the stock class at a 2034 Mustang show. The factory chrome wheels don't provide a clue as to what's under the hood, and the same goes for the Mickey Thompson E/T Street drag radials out back. No one can see them while it's moving anyway-especially when it's under boost because most other road-going vehicles won't even be in the same area code.

The 800-rwhp magic maker resides under the hood, with a Hellion Power Systems single turbo kit in front of an already potent '04 Cobra powerplant. The turbo used in Hellion's kit is a Turbonetics 76mm unit, and the kit also employs a three-core intercooler located behind the front-bumper cover. The Hellion system necessitates the use of a '99 or an '01 Cobra intake, which Melanie obviously has on her Cobra. It also features a Canton oil pan with a windage tray, an Evans water pump and oil cooler, 60-lb/hr injectors, and a DiabloSport MAF.ia mass air meter voltage extender. Nate would like to thank his wife, Melanie, Hellion Power Systems, The Dyno Edge, and Turbo XS for the 800 hp.

5.0 Tech specs
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINRearend
BlockStock IRS
Stock 
BoreELECTRONICS
StockEngine Management
StrokeStock computer, DiabloSport
StockRevolution chip, Turbo XS wideband
DisplacementTuner Pro
281 ciIgnition
CrankStock w/NGK TR6 spark plugs
StockGauges
RodsStock
Stock 
PistonsSUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
StockFront Suspension
Compression RatioK-member
8.5:1Hellion Power Systems-supplied
CamshaftsGranatelli Motor Sports tubular
StockControl Arms
HeadsHellion Power Systems-supplied
StockGranatelli Motor Sports tubular
IntakeSprings
'01 Cobra Hellion Power Systems-supplied
Throttle BodyGranatelli Motor Sports coilover
StockStruts
Mass AirStock
Stock, DiabloSport MAF.ia mass airCaster/Camber
voltage extenderStock
Power AdderBrakes
Hellion Power Systems '03-'04 CobraBaer EradiSpeed two-piece rotors,
single 76mm turbo kit with three-corestock calipers
intercoolerWheels
InjectorsStock
Siemens-Deka 60-lb/hrTires
Fuel SystemStock Goodyear F1
Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump, stockRear Suspension
in-tank pumps, stock lines and rails,Springs
Zone-5 performance-modified fuel-Stock
pump-driver moduleShocks
HeadersStock
Stock manifoldsBrakes
ExhaustBaer EradiSpeed two-piece rotors,
after-catstock calipers
TransmissionWheels
Stock T56, McLeod twin-disc clutchStock
and flywheel, McLeod firewall adjusterTires
and aluminum quadrant, Pro-5.0 shifterMickey Thompson E/T Street
DriveshaftRadials, 275/40-17
StockChassis Stiffening
 n/a