Frank H. Cicerale
June 1, 2007
Photos By: Michael Galimi

If you ask any Ford lover about the '03-'04 Cobras, the one word that would likely come to their minds right away would be the snake's nickname, Terminator. In a sense, that name is quite appropriate as the blown Four-Valve monsters routinely wiped Camaros, Corvettes, and all others who came at them off the face of the Earth. Coming from the factory with the ability to run deep into the 12-second zone, with a few bolt-ons the Terminator Cobras could throw 11-second times up on the scoreboards with relative ease. Talk about one badass hot rod.

OK, so we all know these cars are sickeningly fast. But while most Cobra owners are happy with the original SVT special at first, Bob Dill decided that sickeningly fast just wasn't enough. After buying his '03 Cobra brand-new, he had Ford ship the car to Steeda Autosports in Pompano Beach, Florida. The crew at Steeda spun some wrenches to create Bob's Steeda Cobra, making the already-quick Terminator even quicker.

After throwing on a 2.8-inch blower pulley and running the steed on the dyno, where it rung up figures of 449 ponies and a tire-frying 472 lb-ft of torque, Bob had the Cobra shipped back to his house in Templeton, Pennsylvania. Like most Mustang owners, he thought his new car was cool, but eventually, the 53-year-old had a fever to give the snake more attitude. The only cure was more horsepower and a stand-out appearance.

Cosmetically, the car still looks just as it did when it left the Steeda shop. The Cobra is dressed in Steeda graphics and has the ultra-cool Cobra R-style wing bolted on to the rear decklid. Bob wanted the Cobra to scream attitude, so he bolted on a Vertical Doors lift kit to make the doors go up instead of out.

The hind end of the snake is all the competition sees. The license plate says Terminator while the Cobra R wing says bring it on.

While the exterior appearance of the car was altered slightly, most of the dress-up work and appearance modifications came inside the cabin. Bob contacted Autographzs, which stitched in the lettering on the headrest and seats of the snake. With Bob earning cash by working in a steel mill, it was only right that the Cobra give the opposition the cold steel. With that in mind, Autographzs lettered the Ford Racing logo on the headrests and the Cobra emblem, Terminator nickname, and the car's new name, Steel Cobra, on the seatbacks.

Bob didn't stop there, however, as he wanted to make the car hiss before it bit. After sprucing up the instrument cluster with Ford Racing oil pressure and boost gauges, Phoenix Imaging came up with the carbon-fiber console lid and speedometer. UPR billet HVAC knobs made their way into the center console, while an MGW brushed-aluminum fuel door replaced the stock piece on the rear quarter panel. The stock head unit was replaced with a Pioneer AVH-P7490 DVD system. With the back seats up, you can't find the rest of the audio components. Pull the rear seats down, however, and you will find the juice behind the tunes. Bob hooked up an Audiobahn A260 420-watt amplifier and an ACAP2 chrome capacitor of the same brand to enhance the sound. The bass thumps come from a set of Audiobahn ALUM 10Q subs, and the mirrored plexiglass graphics on the seatbacks came from Digital Designs. Making sure the high-end audio-visual system doesn't pull power from the necessary functions of the car, Bob replaced the stock battery with a higher-output Optima Yellow Top piece.

The car was now a snake-charmer in its looks, but Bob wanted those who tangled with the Steel Cobra to feel the venom of its bite. With horsepower on his mind, he dialed up Johnny Lightning Performance to handle the chore of boosting the output at the rear tires. The crew at JLP bolted on a set of Stiegemeier Stage III ported heads after punching the 4.6-liter motor out another 0.020 inch. Atmosphere is sucked in by a Steeda cold-air intake, and before the air charge reaches the combustion chamber via the Accufab throttle body, it gets chilled by a Gordsford heat exchanger. Once in the intake manifold, the air is mixed with fuel and a 100hp shot of Cold Fusion giggle juice before being compressed by a polished Eaton blower. The huffer runs a 2.93-inch upper pulley and a 4-pound lower pulley to produce 19 pounds of boost. Once the Denso IT-22 plugs and stock ignition with JLP tune light the fire in the cylinders, it is up to a Stainless Works 3-inch exhaust system with off-road pipe to get the spent gasses out pronto. When all was said and done, the Cobra hissed on the dyno to the tune of 577 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque nominally, with figures of 616 and 520 coming in when the powerplant was run on the sauce.

The headrest embroidery stitched by Autographzs says it all about Bob's '03 Terminator Cobra. The Steel Cobra not only rides pretty, but it also rides fast thanks to its JLP-tuned mod mill.

Dill also made sure the engine looked as good as the rest of the car. Both M&P Refinishing and Paul's Chrome Plating supplied the bright stuff, while the custom valve covers were created by Billet Badges.

Making the snake slither down the road is a tuned suspension system. The stock front springs were tossed in favor of Amazon sport springs, while a pair of Laurel Mountain Mustang subframe connectors tighten up the SN-95's chassis. A Metco driveshaft loop was bolted on in the interest of safety, while an MJ rear differential brace keeps the 8.8-inch housing in its proper position. Controlling forward movement in the burnout box at the track while heating up the Hoosier ET Streets is a Hurst Roll Control line-lock.

Tunes come in the form of a killer Audiobahn system. An Audiobahn amp, capacitor, and subs feed the Pioneer head unit juice and the car's passengers ear-numbing sound.

Transferring the power from crankshaft to driveshaft was a job handed to Centerforce, Fidenza, and UPR. A Fidanza aluminum flywheel was linked to the 4.6's crankshaft, and a Centerforce DFX 26-spline clutch and pressure plate found itself attached to the flywheel. A UPR clutch quadrant was then bolted in, and an MGW shifter with a Cobra shift knob row the gears.

"I can race the car and show it at many events," Bob says. "I do pretty well most of the time."

The only ones not doing well are those who get bitten by this Steel Cobra.