Dale Amy
August 1, 2008
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense: Don't let its show-car/cruiser status fool you. Jim's not-exactly-flyweight trophy collector has run a 12.20-second e.t. at 119 mph on its Nitto drag radials.

The world is now chock full of interesting automobiles. Certainly that wasn't always the case. I sometimes wonder how I got through the disco-daze of the late '70s, when there was nary a worthy car to be found on any dealer's lot and high performance was nothing more than a politically incorrect distant memory.

Jim Gifford's show-stopping '01 SVT drop-top now looks like a cross between a Stage 3 Roush and an '00 Cobra R, and wears rims off the '03 version of the snake. Jim did most of the work himself-even the two-tone paint-but drew the line at installation of the ProCharger D-1SC, a task he left up to Modular Madness in Sarasota, Florida.

These days, we're inundated with quick and capable road warriors, both domestic and foreign. That makes it all the more amazing that one single car-and yes, that would be the Mustang-so dominates the enthusiast marketplace, has so many magazines and multibillion-dollar aftermarket companies dedicated to it, and successfully spans generation gaps as no other car in history.

Jim Gifford bought his first new Mustang way back in 1965 and had oodles of fun with it. He then focused his efforts on the more serious aspects of life, such as marrying a good woman, raising a family, and tending to a farming operation in Indiana that subsequently grew to encompass more than 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Sure, he drove many different vehicles in the meantime, but when it was finally time for him and his son to bond in an automotive hobby, there was no doubt in his mind that the Mustang would be at the center of that shared passion. This '01 Cobra is only one of eight pushrod and modular 'Stangs that now constitute the Gifford & Son herd.

The factory Fox-4 interiors were dark places, but Jim has banished that monochromatic blackness with a liberal sprinkling of billet aluminum.

Jim's son is none other than Steve "The Farmer" Gifford, runner-up in the '07 NMRA Factory Stock class by a handful of points. Now that Jim has retired and handed the farm over to Steve-though no one ever really retires from a family farm-he has also rekindled his interest in the quarter-mile and has begun to compete in Modular Muscle. Only not with this particular car.

This is his show Pony, as you may have gathered with a glance at that chromed and polished engine bay. Jim, who now spends most of his time on Florida's gulf coast, bought the car used in 2003 and immediately started with suspension mods and mild bolt-ons. The 65-year-old did nearly all the work himself, including spraying on the DuPont K99 Black-over-Laser Red paint scheme-twice, we guess, because he started with a Cobra R-style body kit before switching over to the current Roush Stage 3 body panels. The ragtop still wears the Cobra R hood.

Give Editor Turner credit for somehow finding a place to stand where his ponytailed image wasn't reflected off the mirror of chrome and polished aluminum that hides 480 hp worth of Four-Valve. The intercooled D-1SC was about all it took to reach this much output. Mechanically, all else, save for the hardware needed to satisfy the fuel and air needs of the blown Cammer, remains almost as Ford built it.

Living on Florida's West Coast eventually brought him into contact with Sarasota, Florida's Modular Madness, where Don Walker and crew got the nod to install a ProCharger D-1SC. With little else done to the Four-Valve-it still wears its factory headers, though a Bassani crossover pipe now feeds the Roush side exhaust-the Cobra dyno'd at 480 rwhp/450 rwtq after a Modular Madness tune. That was on the stock clutch, which may well have been slipping under the much increased load. A SPEC dual-disc setup has since solved that problem, but the convertible has yet to be redyno'd. We wouldn't be surprised if the DOHC bruiser now sends closer to 500 hp to the wheels-certainly more than enough to propel what Jim describes as "two tons of fun."

While the major interior factory components still remain in place, the cabin is, as Jim describes it, "loaded with billet." The only other work we can spot inside are the boost and fuel-pressure gauges hanging from the A-pillar. Still, the Cobra's overall effect is appealing enough to attract not just the lenses of Editor Turner's Canon but also garner "hundreds of show trophies" for Jim.

When we asked if he had any further mods planned for the ragtop, his reply was, "There's nothin' really left to do to it unless I want to tear it apart and start over again." In fact, the Cobra has "retired back to the farm" in Indiana. Should we take this to mean Jim has given up on the hobby? Not a chance. He just doesn't have much time for the '01 that he's acquired, and has begun to campaign for an '07 GT coupe. He also stepped up to an '08 GT 500, which has about 800 hp in its near future. Oh, and then there's always the '93 that he and Steve are building for our own Real Street class in 2008-with a Two-Valve modular/nitrous combo. So, while Jim may be (semi-) retired from farming, the seed of Mustang madness is just beginning to germinate.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery
5.0 Tech Specs
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINRearend
BlockStock IRS, 3.73 gears
Stock 
BoreELECTRONICS
StockEngine Management
StrokeStock w/ Modular Madness/
StockDiabloSport tune
DisplacementIgnition
281ciStock
CrankGauges
StockAuto Meter
Rods 
StockSUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
PistonsFront Suspension
StockK-member
Compression RatioStock
StockControl Arms
CamsStock
StockStruts
HeadsStock
StockSprings
IntakeSteeda
StockCaster/Camber
Power AdderUPR
ProCharger D-1SC, intercooledBrakes
Throttle BodyBrembo rotors, Hawk pads
StockWheels
Mass Air'03 Cobra
SCTTires
InjectorsGoodyear F1, 275/40R17
42-lb/hrRear Suspension
Fuel PumpShocks
SVT {{{Focus}}} (x2)Stock
HeadersSprings
StockSteeda
ExhaustControl Arms
Bassani crossover, side-exitStock
exhaustsBrakes
TransmissionBrembo
StockWheels
Clutch'03 Cobra
SPEC Super TwinTires
 Nitto Drag Radial, 315/35R17