Wayne Cook
March 1, 2009
Photos By: Bill Erdman

Eric Klein of Parsippany, New Jersey is the proud owner of this '03 Mustang Cobra convertible. Originally, Eric got his start in the hobby as the owner of an '88 Mustang GT. However, when the chance to acquire this very special car came about three years ago, he was more than interested. Since that time he has spared no expense in making his Zinc Yellow convertible the best it can be and creating the car of his dreams. Going beyond the already radical factory trim provided by the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT), he has made many significant modifications and improvements to his car in every category.

The '03 Mustang SVT Cobra was known in-house at Ford by the code name "Terminator," and the car was the personal vision of SVT chief engineer John Coletti. After a disappointing test drive in a prototype '02 Cobra, a frustrated Coletti cancelled the '02 Cobra program. Completely unsatisfied with the Cobra's acceleration capability at higher speeds, he pulled out all the stops at SVT to create a Mustang that would take Ford performance to a higher plane. Coletti declared that the next Cobra offering would appear on the showroom floor with a factory-installed supercharger. This meant that many aspects of the new supercharged Cobra would be different, including the weight distribution and suspension calibration. The new Cobra was famous for offering one of the best bang-for-the-buck ratios of its day, and it also offered the highest rated horsepower and torque numbers ever seen on a production Mustang up until that time.

The rear seat cover, otherwise known as a speedster tonneau, gives Eric's Cobra the look of a true two-seater while retaining the ability to seat four if needed. It's very reminiscent of the similar back-seat cover offered for early '60s Thunderbirds.

Unlike the Mustang GT, the '03 SVT Cobra used DOHC four-valve per cylinder aluminum heads and was originally equipped with an Eaton Roots-type supercharger. Other upgrades versus the production V-8 Mustang included a T-56 six-speed manual transmission, a heavier-duty independent rear suspension to handle the additional horsepower, along with bigger 17x9-inch wheels and P275/40ZR17 tires. Better brakes were also part of the original Cobra equation.

While it's generally agreed that the SVT folks got most everything right, Eric still saw room for improvement. For example, the FR500 wheels and a Cervini's Speedster rear-seat cover are both a huge visual plus. The lowering of the car using H&R suspension components is both a visual enhancement as well as a performance improvement. But the big grin-inducing part has to be the polished Whipple blower that's replaced the OE Eaton unit for more boost (about 20 psi of it the last time Eric pegged the gauge). Eric's yellow Cobra is in pristine condition at just 36,000 miles, and obviously this car is a labor of love. According to Eric, his '03 Cobra sees a lot of action at car shows and cruise nights and is a "weekend warrior." In cars such as this one, the tradition of Ford Total Performance lives on.

Even Flow Cooling
The driver-side cylinder head on Mustangs with a 4.6L DOHC engine does not have the same coolant drain-back arrangement as the cylinder head on the righthand side of the engine. On the righthand side, coolant can escape the rear of the head on its way back to the radiator, while on the left side it cannot. Hence, the coolant can pool around the rear cylinders on the left side until it is forced by accumulation to exit at the front of the cylinder head. While not a problem on normally aspirated engines, the extra heat created by the supercharger can cause problems during hard use, such as overheating the rear of the cylinder head and back pistons on the lefthand side of the engine. To counteract this condition, a fitting can be installed in the rear freeze plug location on the driver-side cylinder head. The coolant flow from the driver side is then merged with the passenger-side coolant flow and routed back to the water pump. For more information, be sure to check out www.evenflowcooling.com.

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