Pete Slaney’s 1979 Mustang Cobra
Many of us have been there. Back in high school we all wanted a car of our own. Sometimes we made do with the hand-me-downs given to us by our parents or family members, but, more often than not, we secretly harbored the desire for a cool ride. Pete Slaney would have given his right arm for a 1985 Mustang GT in high school but "the insurance was just outrageous, so I had to settle for a Ford Ranger instead." Still, it was a set of wheels, but as time passed Pete's enthusiasm for Ponies of the wheeled variety began to grow. "Ultimately, it was my twin brother, Paul who really got me to take the plunge." Paul purchased an '85 GT and being the hands on kind of guy he is - he works in a machine shop - turned the four-eyed rocket into a 12-second, show-winning street car. "It was really nicely done. I used to go for drives in it and once I felt the power and awesome drivability for myself I knew I had to get a 5.0 of my own." That day finally came in April 2000.
"My uncle came across this car in the local advertiser and he steered me towards it. It was a 1979 Mustang Cobra and the seller was asking $1,500 for it. At the time, I didn't know what a '79 Cobra was but my uncle and my brother suggested we go look at it, so we did." The car turned out to be a red on black Cobra hatchback, replete with the TRX wheel, tire and suspension package, full Cobra graphics (including the infamous snake hood decal), tilt steering, cruise control, power steering, brakes and door locks, sunroof, four-speaker sound system with AM/FM radio, rear defroster and four-way driver's seat. "It had just 28,060 miles on it - the car was a turbo four-cylinder 2.3 with a four-speed manual transmission - it was very original and in good shape. My uncle said that if I didn't buy it, he would, so I took it home."
So now Pete had a Mustang of his own. The question now however, was what to do with it. "I drove the car a bit when I first bought it. [The Mustang] ran well but, with only 131 horsepower on tap it was a bit of a slug, it needed something. My brother and I, because we are twins, thought it would be neat to duplicate the drivetrain of his '85 GT in my car and have essentially the same mechanicals with two different body styles and colors - so that was what we did." Pete's brother Paul (whose car we'll be covering in an upcoming feature), went to work finding a suitable replacement engine via his day job at Mid-Cape Automotive. "It came out of an '88 5-liter," says Pete. But by the time the Slaneys were done with it, not much was still stock. "Paul did the motor work - he machined the block, and it was bored .030 over, zero decked and align honed." To the block were added a set of Keith Black Hypereutetic 10.8:1 compression pistons - domed of course and via the pins, linked to a stock set of rods and reground stock crankshaft. One area where Pete decided to take a different route than his brother concerned the valvetrain and heads. "In an effort to gain a bit more power with my engine, we decided to go with some AFR 185cc aluminum heads and a bigger Elgin camshaft with a 108° center and 248/258° duration at .050-inch lift - the engine in my brother's car used '69 Windsor heads and a smaller cam. It didn't work - my brother's engine actually made 4 rwhp more on the dyno than my combo did and when my car was finished, his proved more consistent at the track!"