Modified Mustangs & Fords
1997 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra - A Quest For 20
He Did The Go Thing. Now, He Does The Show Thing. Notably, He's On ...
By his own account, Bruce Kolb has been interested in cars "since I was about three." Around that time, this son of a Marine MP began building model cars, in spite of his father's preference for scale trains and aircraft. Each tried to get the other to switch and, in the end, the son won out. Building improved and unique features into his model cars led the young Bruce to shows for model car builders. That exposure, needless to say, created a drive to excel that hasn't taken a back seat for more than 42 years.
Being around at the time the Mustang was introduced in 1964, the original pony car has left a lasting impression on this owner. Though not bought new, Bruce keeps a 1965 K-Code Mustang fastback in the stable and shows it regularly. In fact, when we spoke with him for this feature, he had just returned from a SAAC show and brought home a Class award in spite of being up against more than 30 other 1965 Mustangs. We asked him what it was about the Mustang that was so attractive when it was first announced back in the day. He told us, "It was economical, sporty-looking and affordable."
Another notable Ford vehicle that passed through Bruce's life was a 1970 Maverick. In his 20s, just out of the service and looking to get married soon, Bruce knew that crazy choices were likely not the best ones to make at that time. He'd got a competition bug and done his research, finally settling on three potential rides. One was a brand new 1970 Chevy Nova that, when fitted with a 307-cid V8, qualified at the top of the J/Stock drag racing class. The next candidate, whether wishful thinking or not, was a 428 Torino that would run credibly in the Super Stock class. The third and final choice was the Maverick. In order to have it competitive and not mired in the gaggle of also-rans, this particular competitor came equipped with the 200-cid straight six-cylinder engine. That placed it at the top of the T/Stock class.
Living in Louisville at the time, he raced on four local tracks - all of which were eighth-mile versions and suited the output curve of the tractor engine. After carefully going through the class rules to see what was allowed and what could be more liberally interpreted, the Maverick mods began. The straight swap of an axle assembly from a Ford Econoline provided a set of 4.11:1 rear gears. Porting the cylinder head and a few other tricks turned the grocery getter into a class winner and undefeated in a full year of competition at the Ohio Valley Drag Strip. That car was later bored out to 306-cid, fitted with a header and three dual carbs, then moved into H/Modified Production duty. The car was making an estimated 400 horsepower, when it was returned to street duty. Bruce tells an amusing story about the owner of a new Pontiac Trans Am not being able to understand why he had the doors shut on him by a 6-cylinder car. The Maverick was subsequently converted into a show car.
As we fast forward the timeline, late 1996 saw Bruce doing a killer deal on a new Mustang GT. With this particular car, his streak of luck got a bit tarnished though. Overheating issues plagued their relationship and on a visit to the dealer's service bay a year later, the 1997 Rio Red SVT Cobra you see in these pages was spotted. "I have always wanted a Cobra or Shelby since I was a kid. When the opportunity came up, I bought this car with the intention of showing it." A similar, year-end deal was made to switch the '96 GT out and replace it with the 1997 Cobra. Within a couple of weeks, with nothing more than a good clean and detail session under its belt, the Cobra rewarded its new owner with a class win at its first show.