Eric English
September 1, 2008
This is an original, 29,000-mile '93 Cobra wearing its factory coat of Vibrant Red. Melvins may cry sacrilege, but we give owner Gregg Michalski two big thumbs up.

Horse Sense: If you think huge horsepower necessitates a monstrous hoodscoop or cowl bulge, think again. Gregg Michalski estimates the current 342-inch engine will make more than 1,500 hp-what with the 30 pounds of boost generated by the 101mm Precision turbo.

Let's be honest. In many respects, the story of Gregg Michalski and his '93 Cobra isn't so different from thousands of other hot-rodder stories across the nation. The script is clearly predictable, and it reads something like this: Man buys cool car (interchange woman if it suits you). In time, the car isn't cool enough, so man spends money to make it better (read: faster). Man gets used to newfound performance and wants more. More money is spent. Man goes faster. Things break. Man spends more money. We all know where this is heading. Most of us can laugh at the sequence of events because we've lived through a similar experience.

In truth, Gregg's story is far better than average for several reasons. Number one, he has finished the project. Number two, the result is incredibly potent. Number three, the whole package is about as sanitary and well crafted as they come. Consider all the car projects you know of, and we suspect you'll come to the conclusion that precious few actually achieve the trifecta we just listed.



When Gregg bought his Cobra in 1994, it was a virgin, limited-production special. He never intended to end up with the over-the-top effort you see here, but he quickly embarked on a modest plan to improve his car in all areas of performance. Rather than give you a blow-by-blow, we'll simply note that Gregg has always been convinced of the merits of turbocharged V-8s. It isn't easy, but driving a compressor through otherwise wasted energy just makes sense to him. Through several distinct iterations, Gregg's Cobra has never sported any other type of power adder. In the end, running 11-teens in 1995-with little more than a T-72 turbo and a few bolt-on basics-seems to have set the mold.

The current combination had yet to see the track when we took our photos in late 2007, but a 9.03 at 165 mph with a much milder combination has Gregg expecting big things on his 275/60-15 Drag Radials. The power to get his Vibrant Red machine flying begins with an R302 block, which Bliss Performance screwed together using a forged 3.40-inch stroker crank, Eagle H-beam rods, and JE pistons. Further north sits a pair of Bennett Racing-prepped Brodix Track 1 heads, sporting 2.08/1.60 valve dimensions and taking commands from a Bennett turbo-grind solid-roller of undisclosed specification.

Are you looking at a 7-second small-block? Quite possibly, according to Gregg, but 8s are a slam dunk. Gregg likes to give credit where credit is due, and underhood, that means kudos to Dave Bliss for the engine assembly, Jon Bennett for the custom cam and Brodix heads, Brian Macy for the gargantuan turbo system, and Don Bailey for the spot-on tune-up with the Big Stuff 3.

Gregg's good friend Brian Macy (www.horsepowerconnection.com) built the current turbo system, which is a big step up from the version that nearly cracked into the 8s the last time out. Featuring a Precision 101mm turbo as its central player, the rest of the system consists of plenty of hand-fabricated tubing, custom 17/8-inch headers, a 3-inch crossover, a Turbonetics wastegate, a Vortech blow-off valve, and a Spearco intercooler mounted in the passenger footwell of the interior.

Computer control of the whole affair is courtesy of a Big Stuff 3, expertly tuned by Don Bailey at DCB Enterprises. Other than the updated tune, the 3 is a holdover from the former low-9-second combination, and Gregg couldn't be more pleased with the results. We'll say this: For all the huge performance potential this car has, it sounds far more docile than most could believe. The tune, the cam, the turbo, and a single 5-inch muffler quiet the system to the point that we could converse with Gregg while the car idled right next to us. Throw a set of less racy wheels on it, and the stock outward appearance could contribute to a good income if you were the betting sort.

Transferring all the power into fast-forward boils down to a JW Powerglide with a PTC converter; an Inland Empire 4-inch, aluminum driveshaft; and a Bill Scribner-built, custom 8.8. The latter is narrowed, heavily braced, fitted with 9-inch ends, and features Moser 35-spline gun-drilled axles and spool with 3.55 gears. The rear suspension will be critical for furthering the impressive e.t.'s and consists of Wolfe adjustable, rear control arms and sway bar, as well as Strange shocks. Strange racing discs are behind all four of the oh-so-pretty Mickey Thompson-forged ET Drag wheels.

Living near Seattle, Gregg isn't exactly close to the major drag series in other parts of the country, so he runs in the Wild Street class at selected Pacific Street Car Association events-as well as running for the fun of it at his local track, Pacific Raceways. He says it's a family affair, with his wife and two young boys (ages 13 and 7) usually coming along for more than just moral support. The whole clan pitches in to help the effort on race weekends, and as the boys get older, you can bet the trend will continue.

Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Block
R302, 4.00-in bore
Displacement
342ci
Crankshaft
Forged, 3.40-in stroke
Rods
Eagle H-beam
Pistons
JE forged
Camshaft
Bennett Racing solid-roller
Rockers
Comp Cams 1.6 rollers
Power Adder
101mm Precision turbocharger, Spearco intercooler
Cylinder Heads
Brodix Track 1 ported by Bennett Racing, 2.08/1.60 valves, K-Motion springs
Intake Manifold
Edelbrock Victor Jr. EFIw/Wilson upper elbow
Throttle Body
Accufab 90mm
Fuel System
Custom fuel cell, Weldon 2035 pump and regulator, braided lines, 160-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust
Custom 17/8-in headers by Brian Macy, 5-in single exhaust w/Coast Fabrications stainless muffler
Transmission
JW Powerglide, PTC 9.5-in converter, Precision Industries shifter
Rearend
Scribner Welding hybrid 8.8, narrowed 9-in ends, 3.55 gears, spool, Moser 35-spline axles

Electronics
Engine Management
Big Stuff 3, tuned by Don Bailey at DCB Enterprises
Ignition
MSD Digital 7
Gauges
Auto Meter

Suspension And Chassis
Front Suspension
K-member
PA Racing
Control Arms
Adjustable PA Racing
Springs
PA Racing
Struts
Adjustable Strange
Caster/Camber
Wolfe Race Craft
Brakes
Strange
Wheels
Mickey Thompson ET Drag, 15x3.5-in
Tires
Mickey Thompson front-runners
Rear Suspension
Springs
Stock GT
Shocks
Adjustable Strange
Control Arms
Wolfe Race Craft adjustable upper and lower
Sway bar
Wolfe Race Craft
Brakes
Strange
Wheels
Mickey Thompson ET Drag, 15x10-in
Tires
275/60-15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials
Chassis Stiffening
10-point rollcage by Flipside Customs, Stitch-welded unibody by Flipside Customs, Wolfe Race Craft subframe connectors