Mike Yoksich
May 16, 2012

Bill Barnes spent the last 16 years working as a skilled trade journeyman at Ford Motor Company's Livonia transmission plant, along with being the membership director for the Mustang Owners Club of Southeastern Michigan (MOCSEM), an MCA regional club with over 500 members. Bill's a Mustang super-fan; you'll see him at any event that features steel Ponies.

When Ford's first batch of Cobra Jet race cars where introduced, he was able to get an invite to the 2008 Cobra Jet delivery party at Varsity Ford. He watched with extreme envy as 12 lucky Cobra Jet owners trailered home their new cars. Bill fell in love with the Cobra Jet that day, but knew he'd never be able to get one and compete with it.

Instead, he dreamed up a plan to build a street-legal version of the CJ so he could enjoy car shows and cruise nights, and also get the thrill of running down the dragstrip. There was no way Ford was going to make any street-legal Cobra Jets, so when the '11 Mustang GT was introduced, Bill got his first look at it with the 412 hp 5.0L engine in it and it all clicked.

Bill got the Cobra Jet hero card from FRPP that listed all the part numbers for the Cobra Jet parts he needed to transform the GT. He then contacted Mike at buyfordracing.com with his list of parts and had them shipped to Bill Brown Ford in anticipation of his Performance White '11 Mustang GT's arrival on August 10, 2010.

The FRPP Cobra Jet fiberglass cowl hood and Cobra Jet grille were painted and installed by Bill Brown Ford's body shop. The front wheels are 15x3.75-inch Race Star Industries slugs, and the rears are 15x10-inch versions. The wheels wear Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 26 6x15 skinnies in front with 295/55/15 Mickey Thompson drag radials out back. Bill had to swap out the front brakes from a V-6 Mustang for clearance on the 15-inch front wheels.

The Cobra Jet graphics were installed by Competition Graphics in Farmington Hills, Michgan, and finishing touches--like the Cobra Jet gas cap and hoodpins, along with the grille emblem--were installed, then Bill started freaking out Mustang fans at the car shows. He says he wishes he had a dollar for everyone that's pulled up next to him and yelled, "Those aren't street-legal, are they?" Bill had fun driving the clone everywhere. He even attended one of the car shows at the Roush Collection and the CJ clone instantly drew a crowd. The first phase of the project was done. The next step in the conversion was about to take place.

Bill loved the attention the Cobra Jet got, and now he wanted Cobra Jet speed to back up the looks of his street-driven clone. Bill chose Ron Willim and his shop Blue Collar Performance in Westland, Michigan, to execute his plan. Ron has lots of experience when it comes to both drag racing and road racing, along with a background in high-performance street cars. Bill knew Ron's reputation for honest hard work and gave him the task.

The speed and handling mods were done in several stages over a short period of time with a lot of testing during the build. The suspension was upgraded with an '08 Cobra Jet Front Spring Kit, Tokico D-spec Struts, and '10 Mustang GT front strut mount upgrade, along with a '10 Cobra Jet Rear Damper Kit. Carriage House Engineering upper and lower control arms with an antisquat kit and adjustable Panhard bar were also installed. The driveshaft was upgraded to a 3.5-inch Shaftmaster aluminum model. The 8.8-inch rearend was upgraded with a Detroit Locker, 3.73 gears, and an FRPP aluminum differential cover.

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When it came to making Cobra Jet-style power, Bill chose the Magnacharger TVS 2300 kit. The front intake on the blower has the least amount of airflow restriction, and it's easy to install on the new 5.0-liter engine. The kit comes with a sixth-generation TVS MP2300 supercharger with integral bypass valve, a cast-aluminum high-velocity port intake manifold, aluminum fuel rails, 47-lb/hr injectors, along with a tuning system and all the fittings lines belts and hardware to install it, and Ron had it installed in less than a day.

The system comes with an intercooler, and Bill added an auxiliary cooling tank where the battery sat, for icing it at the strip. He moved the battery with a Moroso trunk mount kit. Red Samco hoses and a Canton overflow tank help with keeping things cool.

To increase the airflow on the exhaust side, a set of Kooks 1-7/8-inch long-tube headers were mated to a 3-inch off-road, H-style mid-pipe. Keith's Mufflers in Westland, Michigan, fabricated a beautiful 3-inch exhaust system for Bill's clone. The improved power of the supercharged 5.0-liter is fed to the six-speed automatic in Bill's Mustang with the help of a Circle D Specialties 3,500-rpm-stall 6R80 Pro Series Stage III torque converter.

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The increase in power would push the Bill's clone into the 10-second zone, requiring a rollbar for safety and chassis stiffness, so he installed a Wolfe Racecraft chromoly six-point bar with swing-out door bars, and he removed the stock seats to install a set of NRG lightweight seats with five-point harnesses. Bill also removed the rear seats and made his own rear seat delete that looks perfect. All the other creature comforts have been retained in Bill's car. His boost and wide-band oxygen sensor gauges are mounted on the A-pillar.

Mark Blaha at Blue Collar Performance tuned Bill's car on the dyno, and it made 525 rwhp and 480 lb-ft of rear-wheel torque. Bill's best run so far is a 10.83 at 125 mph on Speed Channel's PassTime TV show, filmed at Milan Dragway. The car also was filmed by Horsepower TV when Bill ran the NMCA Modern Muscle X Challenge at Milan Dragway--he was the third fastest.

Bill drove the Cobra Jet Clone an amazing 3,285 miles in 10 days on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, then hit Myrtle Beach's Mustang Week in July. The clone also took its class at Mustang Memories at Ford World Headquarters, and was in Ford's Mustang Alley during the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise.

Bill always wanted a Cobra Jet. With the help of his friends at Blue Collar Performance and Ford Racing Performance Parts, he may have something even better than a real CJ--one he can enjoy every day.