Tom Wilson
December 10, 2010

At first blush you might think of Matt Snow's hot-rodded '93 Mustang Cobra as another corporate publicity stunt. But that's impossible once you've met Matt, who's so obviously excited about the latest iteration of his car that such jaded thoughts just don't stand up to his infectious enthusiasm.

In other words, we think he really built this one for the fun of it, even if the over-powered red rocket gets some publicity for Matt's Snow Performance business.

If you need more proof than the audacity of stuffing a little over 900 hp into an otherwise fairly stock Fox Mustang, consider Matt has owned his Cobra for years, and this is hardly its first rodeo. It began in 1999 when Matt bought the Fox from a guy in Oklahoma. "It was in real rough shape," as Matt tells it, "but it was fast! It had a 308-inch engine with AFR 165 heads. I started modifying it right away, playing with a supercharger and stuff."

Matt eventually coaxed 670 hp out of the Cobra's rear tires using a small ProCharger and 100hp nitrous shot. It was at this time when Matt became interested in water-methanol injection. Using the '93 as a test mule, he developed his own water-methanol injection system and opened Snow Performance, which is dedicated to water-methanol injection systems.

Even then we get the idea that Matt-whose energy level was apparently set to a low boil at birth-was having a good time. In one memorable weekend he used the stock-block combination to win a dyno contest, run an open-track, and post a 10.6-second run at the Pueblo, Colorado, dragstrip. All fun stuff-and why Matt says the car has true sentimental value to him.

Happy thoughts or not, Matt's restlessness had him chaffing against the combination's power limit. "The blower was a little P-1 ProCharger," he recalled. "Spun it for all it was worth-about 570 hp-but we couldn't get any more out of it." Looking to step up, Matt tore down the hard-working 5.0 to discover the block was cracked. So he dropped in a turbo'd small-block "but it had issues and ate itself." Not a little disgusted, Matt went looking for something with more durability

What he found was a whole lot of motor, and not too far away. Matt operates out of Colorado Springs, which is just about literally in the shadow of Pikes Peak. And if you're anywhere near Pikes Peak and Fords, Leonard Vasholtz is sure to be nearby. Leonard, a serious racer from the built-it-yourself school, has made an impressive career blasting up the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in any number of his own creations that started life as Fords. Now retired from driving save for the occasional exhibition run, Leonard stays more than busy in his shop, helping his son Clint make a stab at NASCAR roundy-round racing and building customer engines.

What Leonard sold Matt was an ex-Ernie Elliott Winston West truck engine. These 357ci monsters were designed around a 9:1-compression-ratio rule several years ago, but otherwise are as full-house as 9,000-rpm NASCAR cup engines come. The foundation is a Ford Racing G block fitted with CNC-ported Robert Yates C3 canted-valve heads. These have a larger combustion chamber to make the 9:1 compression, which worked perfectly for the supercharging Matt was planning.

Built with 500-lap durability in mind, the engine featrues every exotic gadget in the pro-racer's playbook-sleeved lifter bores to the cam tunnel; Del West titanium valves, fully counterweighted; an internally balanced steel crank; and Ernie Elliott CNC machining throughout. There's no penny pinching here.

Nominally a 9.2-inch-deck-height Windsor, Leonard explained all the Elliott NASCAR engines are milled to 9.130-inch. That's still tall, allowing a generous 6.200-inch-long Lance connecting rod for lowered piston-to-cylinder-wall stress with the 3.440-inch stroke. These dimensions, especially when combined with the premium racing parts, should give good durability, especially when used in the 7,000-rpm neighborhood that works so well with blowers.

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