5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra Terminator
This Snake Doesn't Bare Any Markings, Making It Easier To Surprise Its Prey
When traversing the South, one must tread lightly. Poisonous snakes are pretty common in these parts-especially if your travels take you near Aiken, South Carolina. There you'll likely cross the path of a venomous Sonic Blue Terminator.
Josh Godbee, the keeper of this Cobra, was bitten by the need for a Terminator in 2005. After owning two Mustang GT's and an '01 Cobra, Josh had enough with natural aspiration. But like many, Josh was not fortunate enough to drive off the lot with a new '03 Cobra, so he trolled the used-car market.
"I wanted a Sonic Blue one with chrome wheels, less than 20,000 miles, and a front bumper without license plate holes." Eventually, Josh found one, but the motor was toast. "The timing-chain setup on the left-side head came apart and took out the No. 7 and No. 8 pistons." Not exactly what he had envisioned, but after some negotiation, a deal was made. After an unsuccessful attempt at getting the engine replaced under warranty, Josh decided to go in a different direction.
They started with a VT Engines billet stroker short-block displacing an even 5.0 liters. A set of newer cylinder heads were fastened to the block's deck (the early cylinder heads were known for cooling and valvetrain issues). The dished pistons and combustion chambers combined to yield a supercharger-friendly 8.75:1 compression ratio. With a set of naked heads staring at him, Josh figured a healthier set of camshafts would be appropriate, so Crower's Stage 3 grinds were installed. After the cams were in place and the long-block buttoned up, Josh added the intake and exhaust hardware.
Rather than reuse the factory Eaton supercharger (or even port it), Josh chose Kenne Bell's 2.2L blower. The Twin Screw unit draws through a Billetflow throttle body, a JLT 110mm mass-airflow meter, and a JLT 12-inch cold-air intake. Set up for 17 psi, Josh's new combination had significant power potential, prompting Josh to upgrade the fuel system. He replaced the twin stock fuel pumps with those from a Lincoln Aviator, ran a -8 braided fuel line up to the engine compartment, and connected it to a pair of CPR fuel rails.
Appropriately, every part of the exhaust system was upgraded-starting with a pair of 13/4-inch headers and off-road X-pipe from Kook's, and ending with a Bassani after-cat. The drivetrain received similar attention. The stock clutch came out in favor of a Centerforce DFX unit. Josh fortified the factory T-56 by replacing the notoriously weak 10-spline input shaft with a Liberty's Gears 26-spline unit.
After Josh and his dad were through wrenching, they brought the Sonic Blue Terminator to Amazon Tuning Solutions in Anderson, South Carolina, for the obligatory tuning tweak. Their hard work yielded 649 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque to the wheels on Amazon's Mustang chassis dynamometer.
Though pleased with the numbers, Josh craved more power. In December 2006, he upgraded to a larger Kenne Bell 2.8H Big-Bore supercharger that's pullied for 24 psi. Encouragingly, Josh only read a peak of 19 psi on his Auto Meter Lunar gauge-an indication the engine was flowing more than expected.
To compensate for the added power, Josh strengthened the rearend. From a drag-racer's perspective, the Achilles' heel of the Terminator is its independent rear suspension. Josh discovered his engine's newfound torque provoked the rear suspension to excessive wheelhop. Rather than ditch the IRS in favor of an "old-tech" solid axle, this instrumentation and controls engineer took a systematic approach to beefing up his IRS. The source of wheelhop is flex in the rear suspension components, so Josh's modifications focused on eliminating slop. Josh replaced the soft rubber OEM pieces with polyurethane subframe and differential mount bushings, and welded BilletFlow IRS mount support brackets in place. Before he put the welder away, Josh stiffened the toe control links with lengths of 3/4-inch OD 16-gauge steel tubing.