5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra Mach 1 Hybrid
Jeff Foster Didn't Buy A Prius-He Proved Out His Own Hybrid
A hybrid is the combination of two or more things aimed at achieving a goal. These days of political correctness and societal responsibility, the term hybrid has taken on a fuel-conserving connotation with the combination of an electric motor and a conventional combustion engine. Obviously, the fuel saving effects of this type of hybrid are to be applauded, but we prefer Jeff Foster's take on hybrid vehicles.
His story begins with his mom. Not because she's his mom, but because she is the one that introduced him to Mustangs. For most of us, our love for Mustangs comes from a male role model, but Jeff's mom was all he had for most of his upbringing. "I remember her telling me we were going to buy a race car," Jeff says. He was 8 years old when his mother purchased a '68 Mustang coupe as a daily driver. The Mustang would serve in that capacity for many, many years-without A/C-in Florida. "With a single mom, things were tight," Jeff says, "but I never knew it."
Jeff now realizes the Mustang was sort of an economy car for them back then, and in a small part, allowed her to provide the things needed to get by. The '68 would eventually serve as Jeff's high-school car, but thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, he sold it for his next Mustang. He has since been able to buy back his mom's Mustang, and says he won't sell it again. Good man.
In his adult life, Jeff has owned a few Mustangs, but when it came time to purchase another 'Stang, like the rest of us, he wanted a '03-'04 Cobra. However, this Mach caught his eye. It was already modified, featuring a stroker short-block and an FR500 intake, which briefly reached rock-star status in the Mustang world. Jeff felt limited by natural aspiration, so he sold off the stroker short-block and the FR500 intake. Using the existing heads that came on the stroker engine and the proceeds from selling the short-block and intake, Jeff built a new bottom end and purchased the Whipple 2.3-liter supercharger you see in the pictures.
The block and crankshaft actually came out of the Cobra of his wife, Virginia, as did the transmission and wheels. Jeff and Virginia bought the '01 Cobra as a project car, and a good portion of that car's drivetrain ended up in the Mach. Jeff added Manley Performance rods and CP pistons to the short-block before bolting on the Mach 1 heads, along with the existing cam covers. Atop the long-block is perched the Whipple, made possible by a huge list of '03-'04 Cobra-specific parts to make the swap "easier."
However, Jeff still had a long way to go. To swap a Whipple onto an '03-'04 Cobra is electronically easier, but to install one on another year Cobra is a challenge. What Jeff found out during his swap is that the '03-'04 Cobra utilizes two IAT sensors, whereas Mach 1s and other non-Cobra Mustangs only have one. For the Cobra, one IAT sensor reads ambient temperature, while the other reads air temperature after it's been pressurized and it's located in the blower housing. Jeff says, "Tuners use that second sensor to know how and where to apply fuel, and more importantly, pull timing based on air temp." Mach 1s only have the IAT sensor in the mass air meter housing, so Jeff had to relocate that sensor's wiring to connect to the IAT sensor in the blower housing, and tune accordingly. "You need a tune that basically makes the computer more or less think like a Cobra," Jeff says.
Another non-Mach 1 addition is the car's transmission. As mentioned, the couple's project Cobra donated this part of this equation as well, but it's not a run-of-the-mill TR3650-it's a '00 Cobra R T56. The Cobra had the six-speed and supporting gear, but Jeff went a step further by installing a 26-spline input shaft with a RAM HDT clutch before mating it to the fresh Four-Valve. He left the Mach's 8.8 rearend as is, so that's the last stock piece to the puzzle.
OK, so many of you reading this may be scratching your head trying to figure out Jeff's method to building this car. Jeff built the car for the street and open-track action. He wanted a lightweight '03 Cobra. This is his hybrid version. Jeff blended a Twin-Screw Cobra with an aluminum block, a built six-speed transmission, a solid axle, and slightly used Maximum Motorsports suspension additions.
Jeff figures he saved probably $10K by purchasing stuff used, or through wheelin' and dealin'. We'd take Jeff's thrifty hybrid over a Prius any day of the week. Sudden acceleration would always be commanded by our right foot.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block 4.6-liter aluminum
Displacement 283 ci
Crankshaft Stock Cobra
Rods Manley Performance
Pistons CP w/Akerly & Childs rings
Camshafts Ford GT
Cylinder Heads Stock '03-'04 Cobra, Comp Cams valvesprings
Intake Manifold Stock '03-'04 Cobra, JLT Performance cold air intake
Power Adder Whipple 2.3-liter 140AX supercharger; 17 pounds of boost
Mass Air SCT BA2400
Throttle Body Accufab
Fuel System Twin Ford GT Supercar fuel pumps, stock lines and fuel rails, 60-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust American Racing Headers 1 5/8- to 1 3/4-in stepped headers, custom 3-in X-shape crossover pipe, and Magnaflow mufflers
Transmission 2000 Cobra R-spec T56 with 26-spline input shaft, Ram HDT clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter, Dynotech aluminum driveshaft
Rearend Stock 8.8 w/3.55 gears, stock differential and axles
Engine Management Stock computer, SCT-tuned
Ignition Stock, NGK TR6 spark plugs
Gauges Stock, SCT LiveWire digital display
Chassis and Suspension
Front Suspension K-member Maximum Motorsports tubular
Control Arms Maximum Motorsports tubular
Springs Maximum Motorsports coilovers
Camber Plates Maximum Motorsports Swaybar Steeda Autosports
Brakes Stock Mach 1, Hawk pads
Wheels 18x9 1/2-in Forgeline GT3
Tires Pirelli P-Zero
Springs Steeda Autosports
Control Arms Steeda Autosports aluminum uppers and lowers
Wheels 18x10 1/2-in Forgeline GT3
Tires Pirelli P-Zero
Chassis Stiffening Subframe connectors