Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1996 Mustang Cobra Convertible - Varying Degrees
Andy Speranza's Topless '96 Cobra Is Hot-And Cool.
"Hot" and "cold"-two words that are on the oppo- site ends of the spectrum. Andy Speranza knows all about hot and cold. An air-conditioning contractor from Royal Palm Beach, Florida, he knows how to combat the torrid Florida summer heat with an overpowering blast of cold air from the vents of the A/C unit. Dealing with such a contrast in environments day in and day out, it was only natural he'd carry over the theme to his '96 Cobra convertible.
"I bought the Cobra in 1999 with the idea that one day I might heavily modify it," Andy says. Since its purchase, the convertible has seen a couple of different combinations. "I've never owned a Mustang without nitrous, so putting a nitrous kit on the car was my first modification," he says. "That lasted about two or three years until a friend sold his Cobra and offered me his Vortech S-Trim kit. I installed it, and it was fun for a while, until the main bearings gave up."
Needing a new powerplant, Andy had a major decision to make. With the car being his daily driver, he not only needed a motor, but a car. It was 2004, and the Terminator Cobra was the almighty king of the street and track when it came to high-performance Mustangs. Andy wanted one, but his '96 Cobra had that nagging sentimental value attached to it. The result was a combination of the two.
After putting out the word, Andy found a suitable supercharged Four-Valve motor and set about making his car hot and cold. The Cobra was dropped off at Thunder Autosports (Boynton Beach, Florida), where friends Steve Lee and Brett Robinson handled the transformation. The expired bullet was pulled, and in its place went the new 4.6L blower motor. The powerplant was left as Ford built it, though some advancements were made in terms of the induction, exhaust, and tune of the car. Steve handled uploading a custom tune, while 39-pound injectors squirt in the gasoline. A K&N filter and a mass air meter from an '03 Lightning conspire with the Eaton blower to meter, filter, and shove 14 pounds of boosted Sunshine State air into the mod mill. Kooks 15/8-inch long-tube headers shuffle out the exhaust remnants through a Dr. Gas x pipe system; SpinTech mufflers; and a 21/2-inch, mandrel-bent, stainless steel exhaust system. Andy gets some extra laughs in the form of a Nitrous Oxide Systems single-stage wet kit jetted for a 125hp shot of the happy stuff. After the car was dyno'd, the com-puter spit out a graph showing 630 rwhp and a stump-pulling 615 lb-ft of torque.
Once the engine was nestled in its new home, the transmission made its way from the Terminator to its older sibling. The T-56 six-speed transmission squashes a McLeod twin-disc clutch and flywheel within the bellhousing. Andy selects the gear he wants with an MGW shifter. Connecting the tranny to the 8.8-inch rear is an aluminum driveshaft. Since the rear was mentioned, it might be the right time to hint at the upgrades that were installed in it. The factory gears were swapped for a set of 3.55 cogs, which work in conjunction with a set of Ford Racing Performance Parts 31-spline axles and an accompanying Traction-Lock differential.