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1998 Cobra Convertible - The Crown Jewel
Andrew Juhl's Drop-Top Cobra Knows Its Four C's.
Ask any guy who has gone out and spent a ton of coin on a diamond engagement ring, and he'll reiterate what the jeweler told him the moment he walked into the store. When choosing a diamond, it's all about the four C's: cut, color, clarity, and caret weight.
Although Andrew Juhl wasn't looking for an engagement ring, he was searching for the one Mustang that would be the crown jewel in his garage. While he kept one of the C's (color) when he picked up his '98 Cobra convertible, he changed around the other three. Instead of going for clarity, cut, and carets, Andrew went for convertible, coolness, and cojones.
After owning a four-cylinder '81 Mustang, Andrew moved up the horsepower ladder when he picked up his second car, a '90 Mustang GT. The '90 was sold for his next car, an '89 GT convertible, before he picked up yet another drop-top, a '94 GT. "The '94 had all of the bolt-ons on it," Andrew says. "It had AFR heads, a Holley intake, a camshaft, and a Vortech S-Trim blower. Of course, after a while, I wanted something faster, but I knew that the stock short-block could break after the 500hp mark."
Instead of rebuilding the '94's 5.0L pushrod engine, Andrew sold it and went after the car he really wanted-a Laser Red convertible with black interior. The other item on his checklist was that he wanted a car that already had the work done to it to get him into the 10-second zone, all while still being driven on the street.
"I liked the look of the '94-'98 SN-95 body style better than the Fox-body or the '99-'04 Stangs," Andrew says, "so I started looking for a built '98 Cobra that was making over 600 hp." After checking out the classifieds on Corral.net, Andrew ended up finding a Cobra in Georgia that met all of the parameters he was looking for. Money was exchanged, Andrew picked up the car, and all was good. As it turned out, the solid, built motor that supposedly came with the car turned out to be a worn-out boat anchor. Enter Jake Lamotta of Lamotta Performance. Realizing the convertible's powerplant would need some serious polishing, he pulled the Four-Valve monster from between the framerails for a full-on rebuild.
Lamotta enlisted the help of Al Papitto of Boss 330 Racing to handle the engine assembly. Papitto first punched out all eight cylinder bores an extra 0.020 inch, bringing total displacement to 283 ci. He then filled the bottom end with the stock crankshaft, forged CP pistons, and Manley forged connecting rods, readying the rotating assembly for the blower that would make its way into the car later. After finishing up the short-block with billet oil-pump gears, Papitto spun the engine over on the stand and promptly put on the stock cylinder heads. Crower Stage II cams and cam followers were lowered onto the heads, which feature a Champion short-runner intake manifold squeezed between the intake ports. An Accufab throttle body and FAST air meter handle the induction chores, while a Weldon 2025 fuel pump, an Aeromotive regulator, and 72-pound injectors force the needed fuel into the combustion chambers. The electrical energy needed to fire the NGK plugs comes from an MSD Digital 7 ignition box, coil, distributor, and wires.
Andrew's Cobra wasn't meant to run on a small pair, so a ProCharger F1-R blower pushing up to 23 pounds of boost was plumbed in and hooked up. Cooling the air charge is a job handed to a Precision Turbo PT1500 Next Generation II intercooler that was quietly bolted to the passenger-side footboard.
As if the boost from the blower wasn't enough, Andrew also had a Nitrous Express single-stage wet kit put in. The juice is good for an extra 50 ponies on top of the 685 the motor was already making on nuts alone. What goes in must come out, so eliminating the used air and fuel is a pair of MAC long-tube headers that flow into a custom x pipe system, MagnaFlow mufflers, and a 3-inch exhaust system. The tune that allows the car to rip on the street and strip comes courtesy of Job Spetter, Jr.
All of this power would be for naught if it couldn't get to the rear tires. After wiping out the trans with the new motor not long after he got the car back, Andrew installed one of Performance Automatic's Super Comp AODE transmissions. Residing in the bellhousing is a Performance Automatic 2,400-stall converter, and making the gear changes on the track is easy thanks to the B&M Hammer shifter that now pokes out of the center console. An aluminum driveshaft cuts down on the rotating weight a bit, and the 8.8-inch rearend lives behind the muscular mod motor thanks to upgraded components such as hardened 4.30 gears, Moser 31-spline axles, and a Strange spool.
With the car still seeing street duty, Andrew couldn't get too crazy with its suspension. The end result is a nice mix that allows the Cobra to hike the wheels on the strip and still drive nicely on the street. The front sway bar was tossed aside for weight transfer, and a pair of Lakewood 90/10 shocks and QA1 springs were put in up front. Out back, a Steeda sway bar, Competition Engineering shocks, Eibach lowering springs, and Steeda adjustable upper and lower controls arms can be found. Tying together the flexible convertible frame is a set of Kenny Brown Extreme subframe connectors and a 10-point chromoly rollcage. Stock brakes hide behind the Weld Racing Pro Star wheels sized 15x3.5 front and 15x10 rear. The lightweight rims are surrounded by Mickey Thompson balloons. Under the front fenders lie the 26x7.5x15LT skinnies, while 325/50/15 drag radials are squeezed under the quarter-panels.
With the car having only a little over 38,000 miles on it, the body and Laser Red paint are pretty much intact. The only deviation from stock is in the hood department, where the hood was tossed in the discard pile in favor of a Cobra R-style unit. As for the interior, the 'cage is graced with a pair of five-point safety harnesses. The stock seats were set aside, and in their place went Monaco Cobra seats. A rear-seat delete kit eliminates rear passengers, and helping Andrew keep tabs on the beast under the hood are a host of Auto Meter gauges. He hits the shift points on time thanks to an Auto Meter 5-inch Monster tach and accompanying shift light.
What began as a headache ended up as being the crown jewel in Andrew's long and storied car-loving history. Not only does his Cobra look good, it hauls the mail as well. "The best time to date has been a 9.80 at 139 without help from the nitrous," Andrew says. "I've made an eighth-mile pass with the juice on, and the car went from 111 to 114, so I'm hoping for 9.40s or 9.50s at 140 mph with the nitrous."
Andrew says the best part of the Cobra is the fact that he can still cruise around on the street with it. "It's a fun car to drive power-wise. I can drive it anywhere I want, it's a convertible, and it runs nine seconds in the quarter-mile."
While a twin-turbo setup might one day replace the blower, one thing that won't be replaced is the Cobra. Andrew found the perfect combination of the four C's, and you can bet his jewel will be around as long as possible.