August 1, 2007

Thump Stang
"I got hooked up with a buddy who owns a stereo shop," mentions Ralph, and he turned me on to Crossfire Audio. I figured if I was going to do a killer show car, a cool sound system had to be part of the package." In fact the Crossfire Audio system took on a life of its own and led to this car gaining the nickname Thump Stang. "It's got VR1000D amps and VR404 400 watt speakers, along with two BMF121 subs," says Tapia. There's also an SVR audio battery, so when Ralph cranks the tunes, the ground shakes as if a whole stampede of stegosauri are passing nearby. Throw in the custom console, trunk enclosure, along with the leather/ostrich upholstery and it's easy to see why people go nuts over this thing at shows. But it didn't happen over night. "It was a lot of work to get the interior the way we wanted it. The original plan with the interior and sound system was to get it all done in two months, but that turned into eight, because we had different ideas about mounting things and of course there were space limitations." In the end, a compromise was reached on the cabin - but you'd hardly know it from peering inside.

And if you thought the trick stuff stopped at the interior and paint, you're way off base. The doors are another eye grabber, but as Tapia relates, went on pretty easily. "My buddy Edmund Diaz hooked me up with this kit. He did it in his spare time and I was very happy with the results. The doors can open vertically or in normal fashion. The workmanship is good - it's a very thoroughly engineered kit. With the doors up, to me, it looks like this car's about ready to fly."

Although the Cobra handled decently in factory form, Ralph felt it could still use a little improvement. Racecraft front and rear suspension, including springs, Bilstein front struts and rear shocks, BBK rear control arms and a full Baer Eradispeed brake kit with 13-inch front and 12-inch rear rotors went on. Although primarily a show and cruising car, Tapia also decided to have some chassis stiffening performed and the '95 sports a four-point chromemoly roll cage as well as a Racecraft strut tower brace up front. With a set of BF Goodrich KDWs mounted on the 19-inch rims, with a 265 footprint up front and a 295 patch on the rear, this car is poised for corner carving, not that Ralph is likely to spend much time flogging it around the road course - would you with a car that looked as good as this? One of the criticisms leveled at the early SN95 when it was new, revolved around muscle and hustle, or rather the lack of it. The Cobra churned out 240 horsepower to the crank for '95, but it wasn't really enough for Ralph, not with all the other stuff he'd already planned for this beastie. The bottom end of the 302 was left largely untouched, but the crank received a balance and polishing job. Speed Pro flat-top pistons and pins, along with a set of ported and polished AFR 185cc aluminum heads, along with Crane Cams 1.7 rockers and a Comp Xtreme grind bumped things up a few notches. The fuel system was also massaged, with Accel 30 lb injectors, 255 lph in-tank Holley pump, and Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, but not for a supercharger. Yes, this Pony has made 465 horses on the rolling road, but it gets the extra surge via laughing gas.

Well Worth It
What's not to like about a Nitrous Oxide System's 200 hp big-shot plate setup, with twin 10 lb bottles? But the thing Ralph likes most about the setup, power gains not withstanding, is the purge. See those two mounts for the windshield wipers? Well they're not what they appear to be. Okay, so the covers for the arms each look like the front of a gatling gun, but the lids actually pop up and Tapia uses them as the outlet for purging the system. "It's my favorite party trick. I love this car - I love driving it, but when you purge the Nitrous system at a show and whole bunch of people jump back six feet, now that I get a kick out of." His family does too.