Huw Evans
December 1, 2006
Photos By: Jason Siu

Eddie Rios' 2000 Mustang GT/Cobra
We first bumped into Eddie Rios at the SEMA show in 2005. He told us about a very fast street car he'd just put together. "If you want to see something cool, you guys should check out my car," he said, with a glint in his eye. Now I'll personally admit that initially at least we weren't prepared for just how mind bending this ride of his actually was. At first glance, Eddie's latest toy appeared to be an Oxford White 2003 Cobra with a turbocharged combo under the hood. Well actually it turns out, this car is a good deal more than that, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here - as you can imagine this latest Mustang is just one in a string of high performance cars the 26-year-old Rios has owned.

"My first was a 1985 Mustang GT. I was always around my grandfather when I was a kid and would help him working on his cars - I did stuff like brake overhauls, that kind of thing. When I was old enough I got my first car [the '85] and started working on that. I'll admit that I used to go to the street races, that was how I caught the modifying bug." A truck later followed the four-eyed Pony and after that, Eddie crossed the tracks and bought himself an LS1 powered Camaro and sprayed the heck out of it. A slippery slope no doubt, but before he fell down too far, the owner of his then new place of work, Earl's Automotive grabbed his hand and yanked him back into the sunlight. "I remember he told me," relates Rios, "he said, you have to stop playing with Camaros, you need a real car - so he actually went out and bought me a Mustang - since that time all I've had is Mustangs." Phew!

As for his current pet project, well that came about a couple of years ago when Eddie was looking to build a drag car. "I had a whole stash of race parts that I'd gotten a hold of and I started looking for a donor vehicle which I could strip and then turn into a race car, using a lot of these parts." Being the forward thinking lad he is, Rios naturally thought a V6 SN95 would be a great starting point. "That's what I was originally looking for - a cheap used, V6." However, when a good running, super clean 2000 GT came his way, those plans started to change. "I came across this GT. It was owned by a producer in Hollywood. It had high miles, because he drove it a lot, but it was really clean and well maintained." At a price that was simply too good to pass up, Eddie just had to buy the car. "Once I had this [GT] I realized that it was just too clean to gut completely and turn into a race car - so I decided to sell off all the race parts I had and set my sights on building a killer street car."

With those parts now gone, Eddie started collecting 2003-04 Cobra bits, but hit pay dirt one day when he came across a written-off '03 snake. "I found this one - it had been totalled in an accident, but it made for the perfect donor vehicle, so I purchased it and took everything I could out of it." The plan from this point forward, was to combine the 2000 GT, with the salvageable bits from the '03 and build a hybrid street monster, but in order to that, Rios decided that the GT should be taken apart and sent to the body shop for some fresh paint. "I wanted to paint it Oxford White, it's all business and it doesn't scream look at me." With the paint dried and now able to reflect nuclear energy, Rios had it back and the melding of the two vehicles began. "I started putting it all together. I used the '03 Cobra wiring harness, the entire fuel system and interior - a lot of it was plug n' play so that helped." When it came to the engine and driveline however, Eddie wanted a little more than an Eaton roots blower and a six-speed. The engine remained largely stock, though the stock blower was yanked and put up for sale on eBay, plus Rios had Valley Cylinder Heads do, well the heads.

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The solid GT rear end was also upgraded with an Eaton Posi, 31-spline axles and C-clip eliminators. The turbo kit process began when Rios got his hands on an Innovative kit and mocked it up. "I got Jaime Vorhees at Fabtech in Chatsworth, CA to fabricate a complete turbo system for the car based on my original design. Jaime was a real help in getting the turbo system to work, because even though I'm an automotive tech by trade and did most of the work on this car myself, with the turbo system it was still a lot of trial and error." So as the turbo system was coming along, Rio sought about getting a suitable automatic trans to handle the not inconsiderable power he'd soon be making. "For me, I knew that there was one shop that had just what I was looking for - Lentech. I purchased the best transmission I could for my application - 4R70W with a manual valve body and trans brake. I had my specs for the trans and Len, at Lentech was really good. They built the tranny off the specs and shipped directly to me." As the white monster neared completion, Rios was getting quite excited. It was coming together but it wasn't all smooth sailing. "I rigged up the Idle Air Control Valve so it was remote mounted, so I could use a '99 Cobra style single-blade throttle body - one thing that I probably should have learned, was place more emphasis on reliability - I was trying to make a lot of power on pump gas. When the car was completed I took it to the dyno - but I ended up hurting the motor." Not one to be deterred, Eddie found the time to do a little engine freshening and troubleshooting. "Once I had figured all the bugs were worked out, I took the car to Los Angeles County Raceway. It worked. The converter in my trans was just well suited to the combination - on my first time off the trailer the car went a 10.0 at 131 miles per hour.

"It was a great feeling seeing those numbers on my first time out and I knew I wanted to run again. However Rios, decided a few adjustments were in order, namely upgrading the turbo. I went with a [Precision Turbo] PT76. I dyno'ed the car and took it to the track again." This time it went a 9.58 at 158! Although Eddie was excited, the track officials at LACR weren't and they booted him off for not having a 10-point cage. "Even though I got kicked off, it was still great to see those numbers - I knew what this car could do."

Quite a bit more than that in fact, but to up the ante, Rios is taking a few steps toward durability. "When I ran that 9.58 - the engine was running a lot of boost. I had it dialled for 25 lbs and I knew, that even with a stock, blown Cobra bottom end, the motor was in kill mode - I was having back pressure issues and knew that it would only be a matter of time before it cooked." To that end, Eddie took a pro-active approach, by yanking out the Cobra engine - the day after these photos were taken in fact and setting work on a custom piece bullet with all the trappings. "I got a Teksid aluminum block," he said last time we talked. "The car was still very heavy, particularly at the front, so I'm trying to lighten it wherever I can so I can get it in the 8s. Just changing the block alone will shave 80 lbs off the nose. Now this engine has Diamond pistons with ceramic-coated tops and sides, billet rods and a pair of heads worked over by Al Papitto. "It should last pretty good," says Rios. No doubt.

So although the car is still in the process of being put back together as your editor types these very words, it won't be long before it's back in action. "Although I like taking it to the track, its primary role is still a very fast street car - it has a full interior, full exhaust and all stock body panels except the three inch Harwood cowl hood. It doesn't attract too much attention and I like it that way. "I can cruise on the highway all day long, thanks to the overdrive, but when I want to get on it and go - it just pulls like a freight train - all the way." And unlike some people out there, Rios isn't kidding when he says so, after all he's got the numbers to prove it. Not bad for a mega street beast that was built in his spare time and largely by his own hand. "Well if I'm being honest I should thank Jaime Vorhees and, my friend Armon Javadi from X2C motorsports who helped a lot with the turbo installation," chuckles Rios, and of course, don't forget my girlfriend Nancy. She helped me out a lot, wrenching and tightening bolts - she'd come over and hang out with me and keep me company." Sounds like Eddie's not only got a fantastic Mustang but a fantastic woman as well. We should all be so lucky.

Specifications
Eddie Rios' 2000 Mustang GT/Cobra

Engine
Ford 4.6-liter DOHC V8

Engine Modifications
Manley forged connecting rods; Fel-Pro head gaskets; ARP mains bolts and head studs; Comp Cams valve springs and retainers; Accufab single blade throttle body; Dual Walbro 255 lph fuel pumps; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and fuel filter; Garrett GT 42 76 turbocharger; Fabtech exhaust manifold and 3.5" downpipe; Tial 44mm external wastegate; Borla 3" mufflers; Spearco Air-to-air intercooler; Turbonetics' Godzilla Blow Off Valve

Driveline
Lentech 4R70W automatic transmission with 2700 rpm Stall, 10" torque converter; PA Automatics flex plate; Ford Racing 3.55 rear gears; Eaton 31-spline differential; Strange Engineering 31-spline axle shafts, C-clip eliminators

Numbers
787 RWHP, 875 RWTQ @ 26 psi

Interior / Exterior
Eddie Rios' 2000 Mustang GT/Cobra

Chassis
B&M Hammer shifter; Custom aluminum driveshaft

Exterior
2003 Cobra front and rear bumper covers, rear spoiler, side skirts; Harwood 3.5" cowl hood

Interior
2003 Cobra seats and other interior components; E-Boost boost controller; AEM Wideband O2 monitor; Auto Meter fuel pressure and transmission temperature gauges

Suspension
Maximum Motorsports 6-point roll cage; X2C Motorsports adjustable upper control arms, rear coilover conversion; D+D rear sway bar; Anthony Jones Engineering front K-member; D+D front coilover conversion; Lakewood 90/10 front and 50/50 rear dampers

Wheels And Tires
Bogart D-10 wheels, 15" x 3.5" front, 15" x 10.25" rear; Pep Boys 165/50-15 street front tires; Mickey Thompson 325/50-15 drag radials at rear.