Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
July 26, 2010

Most show cars only see the light of day on a show field, and the only time they see the road is while riding in or on a trailer. They rarely see the road, especially under their own treads.

Few people dare to bridge the gap between a show car and a driver-or I should say, few people are successful at it. Most drivers only get a spot on the show field because their owners want a good parking spot. They don't come upon their spot honestly. On the opposite side of that coin, most show car owners don't want to risk a paint chip, cracked windshield, or accident driving their cars on the street.

One '95 Cobra I know that successfully bridges this gap is staring back at you. Tom Clark of Ravena, New York, owns it, and I've seen and witnessed it being driven on several occasions. I can vouch for its street cred. Plus it collects trophies like John Force collects Wallys.

Tom bought the Cobra because of the aftermarket support. "The parts for these cars are cheap and you can build a Mustang any way you want," Tom says. As is usually the case, the Cobra was already modified when Tom bought it. The car featured some bolt-ons, a Paxton SN93 supercharger, and custom paint.

"I thought I would be saving money by buying it already modified," Tom said, "but before long, I had upgraded the car and the mods to a higher level." What's more, Tom did the upgrades himself, save for the paint and the engine machining, "some of it learning as I went," Tom added.

His first show was at a Fun Ford Weekend at Englishtown, New Jersey. "I didn't expect to win, but I ended up taking first place in the Cobra class," Tom says. He was shocked by the win, so of course that spurred the continuance of modifications. "It never stopped, and I wanted to do more and more to the car," he adds.

However, as I stated above, this car is not a trailer queen. Tom built a fun driver; the car-show trophies are just a bonus. He proudly tells people that he drives the car all the time, including to and from shows. "When they're surprised it's not trailered, then I know I did a good job," Tom says.

Living in New York means he has three to six hours of drive time to get to the popular Northeast Mustang events like NMRA Atco, the All-Ford show at Carlisle, and New England Dragway's UPR Products Ford Fest, where I shot these photos.

Sure, stone chips and various other road hazards are a concern, but they don't stop Tom from hitting the open road. "I also don't use blue tape on these trips," he says. The tape does its job, but Tom thinks that look detracts from his Cobra's demeanor and undermines the car's raison d'être. In other words, the blue tape would be Tom admitting he holds a car show trophy more valuable than the enjoyment he gets from driving the car.

The Cobra's driving enjoyment, Tom says, comes from the car's combination of Maximum Motorsports suspension components, the H&R springs, and Tokico adjustable shocks and struts. "Not only do they enable the car to handle like a slot car, but it's also incredibly comfortable and smooth," Tom says. It does quite well with New York and New Jersey potholes. "Between handling so well and riding so smooth, it makes the car enjoyable to drive, which is important when I'm driving five hours to a show," Tom adds. Tom reports the Cobra rides better than any daily driver he's owned.

Another aspect Tom likes about his car is that he won't see himself going in the other direction. In a sea of Mustangs, his definitely stands out. He has built it to stand out, which is pretty hard to do when there are so many Mustangs out there. "The custom paint, the wheels, the engine compartment, and the car's stance set it apart," Tom says.

He's been finished with the Cobra for a couple years now, so for now he's simply enjoying it. If you see Tom and his Cobra on the open road, he's on his way to pick up another trophy.

'95 Cobra
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Block Stock
Displacement 302ci
Crankshaft Stock
Rods Eagle H-beam
Pistons Keith Black
Camshaft Flowtech Induction (Ed Curtis) custom grind
Cylinder Heads AFR 185cc w/PS3 valvespring upgrade, 2.02/1.60 valves, Scorpion 1.6 roller rockers
Intake Manifold Cartech sheetmetal
Power Adder Paxton VR-4 supercharger w/3.75-inch pulley, 10 pounds of boost, Vortech bypass, Zex 50hp dry nitrous kit
Mass Air Lightning 90mm w/K&N filter
Throttle Body Professional Products 75mm, polished
Fuel System 255-lph fuel pump, -8 feed, -6 return fuel lines; high-flow fuel rails; 42-lb/hr injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
Exhaust BBK short-tube headers, MAC off-road H-pipe, MAC mufflers, center-mount tips
Transmission Stock T5 w/SPEC Stage III with aluminum flywheel, Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft, Steeda Autosports Tri-Ax shifter
Rearend Stock 8.8 w/3.73 gears, stock differential and axles

Electronics
Engine Management Stock computer, TwEECer custom tune
Ignition MSD 6BTM, Blaster coil, MSD Super Conductor spark plug wires, Autolite spark plugs
Gauges Stock w/custom gauge rings, Auto Meter

Suspension And Chassis
Front Suspension
K-member Stock w/Maximum Motorsports K-member brace
Control Arms Stock
Struts Tokico Illumina five-way adjustable
Springs H&R Super Sport
Camber Plates Maximum Motorsport
Brakes Stock Cobra w/cross-drilled rotors, ceramic brake pads
Wheels TSW Thruxton, 19x8-in
Tires Dunlop Sport Maxx 265/30-19
Rear Suspension
Shocks Tokico Illumina five-way
Springs H&R Super Sport
Control Arms Maximum Motorsports upper and lower control arms, Panhard bar
Brakes Stock Cobra, cross-drilled and slotted rotors, ceramic pads
Wheels TSW Thruxton, 20x10-in
Tires Dunlop Sport Maxx 285/30-20
Chassis Stiffening Autopower six-point rollcage w/harness bar and Maximum Motorsports subframe connectors