Don Roy
October 1, 2006
Photos By: Francis Butler

Karen Kennedy's 1998 SVT Cobra Convertible Despite what your kids or younger siblings may think, there is more going on in Orlando, FL, than Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Bounding rapidly towards a population of two million, the central Florida hot spot is a fully developed, metropolitan city in its own right. It might be difficult to imagine a more suitable home base for a group of Mustang enthusiasts than this part of Florida. Aside from the occasional weather disruption and a constant stream of tourists, the area boasts fine weather, amazing scenery and long runs of smooth interstate.

For the Kennedy family, the first "horse bite" came in 1980, when father John took in a 1970 Mach I 351 classic. The fondly remembered "fun times" eventually gave way to family pursuits and attendant responsibilities. That period allowed a return to the Mustang scene in 1996, when John picked up a new Mustang GT convertible. The "modified" bug stormed to the forefront over the next few years and a great deal of work was done to the GT. Because it was the first year for the 4.6 liter engine, a lot of attention was paid there, including installing a Vortech supercharger and chroming just about everything in sight.

In the fullness of its glory, that car brightened the pages of a number of other enthusiast magazines. Problem was, the GT was supposed to be for Mrs. Kennedy's use. With the ongoing calls for photo shoots and time spent in the shop installing the latest bits, Karen wasn't seeing much of the car at all. In 2000, the Kennedys attended the Daytona Beach Turkey Rod Run... you know, that "little" show on the beach that drew just over 5,000 registered cars last year. There, they sold the tricked out GT and picked up their 1998 Cobra from a gentleman that brought it down from Ohio. Obviously, that fellow wasn't doing a whole lot with the Cobra, as it had only 4,000 miles on the clock.

And so, it began again. John called up a number of the companies that had been sponsors for the previous car. These included Hotchkiss Suspensions, Tokico Performance Shocks, Power Slot Rotors, Superchips and BF Goodrich. Helping out this time are both of the Kennedy offspring, Joshua, 26, and John, 21. No strangers to the Mustang art, John drives a 1992 Fox, complete with 650 RWHP, while Joshua cruises the locale in his black 2005 Pony. While the pace has been less frantic than with the previous car, this snake has been shown and raced - both on the quarter mile and the twisty tracks.

In fact, one of the things that John loves about the car is that it held its own on the road course at Sebring, FL, facing off against big-dollar Porsches and Vipers. In part, that kind of performance comes from Tokico springs, the 5-way Tokico Illumina shocks and struts, along with Hotchkiss upper and lower control arms. Complete Custom Wheels (CCW) did up a set of 3-piece rims for this snake. The front 17"x9.5" rims support BF Goodrich's g-Force T/A KD 275/40R17 tires, while out back the story is all about 17"x11.5" rollers inside 315/35R17 KD's. All of this works well together to keep the car planted in the twisties.

When this Cobra visited the straight and narrow at Orlando Speed World, a bottle of nitrous helped achieve a 12.80 second ET, with 118 mph trap speed. That nitrous setup is a Nitrous Oxide System's single stage, dry kit, jetted for a 150 HP boost. The car also sports the now-classic arrangement of having its nitrous purge nozzles vent through the hood scoops, supporting the car's pet name 'Venomous'. Giggle gas isn't the only thing going on under the hood, though. A BBK cold air kit and twin 62mm throttle body help the 4-valve engine breathe in... something that these engines respond well to. On the exit side, you'll find a set of BBK's long tube headers feeding through a Bassani 2.5-inch X-pipe and into a set of Flowmaster's 40-series hush cans.

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