Jeff Bauer
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Frank H. Cicerale

The story of how Matt Thewes built this 680 rwhp, blown '01 Cobra as a memorial to his deceased mother is so compelling, it practically tells itself. Jane Thewes nurtured her son's automotive passion from when Matt was just a boy, always willing to take him to a car show or stereo competition. Later in life, she'd ask him how his latest project car was-or wasn't-progressing.

Her illness came out of the blue and progressed quickly. In February 2007, Jane was first hospitalized. By March, stage IV bile duct cancer had spread throughout her body, and on April 1, she passed away.

While contemplating ways to honor his mom, Matt got the idea to build a project car. "We always talked of building a show car, but never had the chance," Matt says. "When she died, I fulfilled the desire we shared by building this tribute."

Matt also wanted to use the tribute to promote cancer awareness. "Everyone over age 50 should see their doctor annually," Matt says. "My mom would still be alive if she did."

He bought the non-blown Cobra in mid-April 2007. "My original thought was to just add a few things, make it look nice, and call it a day," Matt says. "But I soon realized I wanted to build a car good enough to be in MM&FF."

Turning to Dave Moore of Macon-Moore Performance (Sumter, South Carolina), Matt built the Cobra in stages. Round one: ordering parts. He wanted forced induction, and ordered a ProCharger D-1SC. "I think that opened the floodgates," he says.

While waiting for his supercharger, Matt turned to round two: the suspension/chassis. Macon-Moore installed a Steeda Stop the Hop Pak, Steeda springs, Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates, polyurethane bushings, and Tokico D-spec struts. The brakes were upgraded with 10th anniversary Cobra calipers and pads, and Power Slot rotors. The stock mufflers were ditched in favor of a MagnaFlow after-cat system, and rear gears switched to FRPP 4.10s. During this round, the Cobra also received a Fidanza aluminum flywheel and Centerforce DF clutch. Rolling stock was replaced with chrome FR500 wheels with Sumitomo skins-275/40/17s up front, 315/35/17s out back.

Round three: tunes. Matt fitted Oz Audio 6 1/2-inch Matrix Elite components in stock Mach 460 locations. The rest of the setup consists of JL Audio amplifiers and subwoofers and Rockford Fosgate Punch 5 1/2-inch midwoofers. During this round, he also tinted the windows and installed blacked-out taillights.

"I enjoyed it the way it was," Matt says. "Yet I knew once the blower arrived, everything would change. I knew I'd need some modifications to be able to handle the extra power."

This 5.0L stroker is topped by a Procharger D-1SC and dyno'd at 680 rwhp and 605 lb-ft of torque.

This led to round four: Kooks stepped long-tube headers and midpipe with cats, a Meizere electric water pump, and an Accufab dual 60mm twin-bore throttle body.

Things really got interesting with the arrival of round five: the blower. After Macon-Moore installed the D-1SC and a set of Steeda full-length subframe connectors, Matt took the Cobra to Pro-Dyno (Ft. Mill, South Carolina), where Dan and Rob tuned it for 482 rwhp and 465 lb-ft of torque at 8 pounds of boost.

"I drove the car like that, and thought I was done with the mods," Matt says. "But I realized a Cobra convertible with a D-series ProCharger probably would not get a nice spread in your magazine." So what did he do next? "Well, I went a little overboard."

For round six, he swapped in an MMR modular 950 stroker 5.0L built on a balanced and blueprinted '03/'04 Cobra block, into which Macon-Moore stuffed an MMR forged 1,200 hp crankshaft, 4340 forged H-beam Manley rods with ARP bolts, forged Manley pistons, and Speed Pro trimetal bearings with moly rings. Stock Cobra heads were ported and polished, and treated to a five-angle valve job.

Matt also stepped up with 60-pound injectors, a three-core race intercooler, a 20-pound, 2.63-inch eight-rib pulley setup, twin Ford GT fuel pumps, an '03/'04 Cobra fuel tank, upgraded fuel pump driver modules, and braided lines. The T56 six-speed was upgraded with a 26-spline input shaft and billet synchros, and the driveline enhanced with an '04 Cobra driveshaft.

To dress things up, Matt installed a set of Ford GT blue valve covers, chrome coil pack covers, custom painted intercooler pipes, and a painted AFM Power Pipe. The Stang also received an '03/'04 front bumper cover sprayed to match the stock Zinc Yellow.

Back at Pro-Dyno, with a PMAS 90mm meter calibrated for the 60 pound injectors, the stroker put out 680 rwhp and 605 lb-ft of torque with 93-octane at 22 pounds of boost with an SCT tune. "I could not be happier," Matt says. "Everyone who worked on the car exhibited a profound passion to get this car perfect, and I thank them for it."

But like many good stories, this one's got an amazing twist. "As I drove the Cobra, I grew sad that I'd spent so much money on a car for myself," Matt says. "It was therapeutic to focus my attention on the car. But when it was complete, I was healed from mourning, and realized what I had done."

Matt sold the car to a friend, Marc Tucker, and used the money to buy his family a home. The house is his mom's true legacy. "I love my home, I now love the car, miss my mom, and am finally ready to move on," Matt says. "Did I mention that I also bought an '02 Mustang GT convertible? I'm thinking a twin turbo 5.0L stroker ought to do the trick."