Ryanan Vitiritto’s 2003 Mustang Cobra
There's no antidote for this one. Ryan Vitiritto wanted a Cobra. Period. He'd experienced the Mustang art in a number of forms before, so he had a pretty good idea of what he was talking about. There had been a couple of Fox-body cars, but he really grew attached to the SN95 and New Edge models. So, there was a 1994 GT that had a Vortech blower sitting high over its 5.0-liter engine block. Then, there was a Y2K GT with a Saleen conversion. Then, when John Coletti's team released the specifications for the 2003 SVT Cobra, there was simply no question about Ryan not getting one.
"I always wanted a Cobra, because they were the ultimate Mustang," Ryan told us. In his work at ICE Truck and Auto Works, in Des Moines, Iowa, he has seen a lot of iron come and go. When SVT announced that there would not be a 2002 model year Cobra, the gears had already been churning in Dearborn. So, it wasn't long after, that talk of a factory supercharged, 390-HP Cobra ... code named 'Terminator' ... started surfacing. This would be the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever. People were lining up at SVT authorized Ford dealerships to leave a deposit and get on the A-list.
One of the people that did get onto that list was John Kolivas, a well known NMRA competitor. Kolivas had originally ordered the Cobra to run it in NMRA's Wild Street class, but later decided to pursue the Drag Radial crowd - a decision that certainly made last year's DR action a lot more exciting. Kolivas would have taken the 2006 BF Goodrich Tires Drag Radial championship, but for an errant fuel rail hold-down bolt that waited until the very last race of the season to let go.
When Kolivas put the 'For Sale' sign on the Cobra, Ryan was among the first to see it and they did the deal. Now, our boy is no stranger to the 1320 either, so the first weekend after getting it, the Cobra was being exercised at the local strip. "When I bought it, it had a few tasteful mods done and was fairly quick. I really thought that I would be happy with the power," Ryan mentioned. Oh, how often we've heard those words before! Such power as there was at the time, wasn't getting down to the track through the Cobra's independent rear suspension. Not one to fuss about with bushings and such, the IRS was discarded in favor of a tried and true straight axle. To handle the beefier output from the DOHC engine, a Ford Racing 31-spline differential was installed and hooked up to a set of Moser Engineering's axle shafts.
The rest of the driveline also received a few upgrades at the same time. These included a Centerforce DFX clutch and a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft. Now that the power was getting through, it wasn't long until that level wasn't satisfying. Ryan's next step was to replace the factory supercharger with a Kenne Bell 2.2 liter unit. Along the way, other areas of the car were developing, as Ryan divided his attentions between running at tracks like Kansas City, Joliet, Cordova and Topeka, and sharing his pride and joy on the show field. Helping out with the car's presentation are the distinctive rolling stock - Speed Star Wheels' D5Rs, measuring 18-inches by 9-inches wide. Wrapped around these are sticky Nitto NT555 Extreme radials.
When at an NMRA event, both he and John Kolivas would look for each other and check out their cars. John would often compliment Ryan on his work, saying "That's what I would have done." Underhood and interior billet pieces were being added. He painted the cam covers to match the Tangelo Pearl stripes that he'd used to accent the exterior, and added Ford GT coil covers. The results were coming in wherever Ryan showed the car, including the World Ford Challenge car show, World of Wheels car show, as well as events with his local club, the Mustang Club of Central Iowa.
Over time, of course, the power bug kept chewing on him and a faint nine months after installing the Kenne Bell blower, Ryan decided that he wanted much more and that a turbocharger was the way to get it. He had the idea in mind of doing a big, single turbo and began checking around with a number of shops and suppliers. In the end, Ryan decided to go with the team at Hellion Power Systems of Albuquerque, NM. A Turbonetics T76 turbo unit was called up front to lead this power parade. The DOHC engine's intake was changed out for a normally aspirated 2001 Cobra setup, port matched to the more modern cylinder heads. Fuel delivery was ramped up using a Ford GT fuel pump. Hellion provided the intercooler, while stainless steel piping and a 38mm Turbonetics Evolution wastegate were integrated into the system. The 3-inch stainless Hellion exhaust from the turbo leads out to 2.5-inch Magnaflow mufflers.
Along with the turbo setup, Ryan also added a Nitrous Express single stage, wet NOS kit with a 75-shot setting on the scale - just for good measure. Ongoing dialog with Nitrous Express helped settle out any tuning issues, which were managed with an SCT X-calibrator 2 unit. So far, the updated power package has served Ryan well. On the dyno, with the boost set at 19.5 psi and a trunk full of 104-octane go juice, this snake delivered 718 RWHP and 731 RWTQ. Ryan's best quarter mile run, with the current setup, was at KC International Raceway, where he logged in a 10.87 second run with a terminal speed of 138 mph.
You can certainly tell that Ryan is highly involved with his Cobra and, as it turns out, that involvement is infectious. Along the way, his Dad got into with the Mustang hobby and is now running around in a 1995 GT, suitably decked out with a 331-cid, Vortech-enhanced 5-liter mill.
Since we first visited Ryan to get these photos, there have been other developments. While the bottom end of the Cobra's engine was sturdily constructed on the Romeo Engine Plant specialty line, using a forged steel crankshaft, Manley forged connecting rods and forged pistons, it was also designed for fully reliable operations at 7 psi. Continued running at just under twenty pounds, perhaps compounded by a couple of 'extraordinary encounters', led to some excess heat and related piston damage. Ryan currently has a new, all aluminum, big bore bottom end being put together by John at Modular Performance. Once he gets that combo together, there's little doubt that competitors in both NMRA's Wild Street and Fun Ford Weekend's True Street classes are going to feel the bite of this snake. Watch out, it could be terminal!
Ryan Vitiritto's 2003 Mustang Cobra
Ford 4.6-liter supercharged DOHC V-8
2001 SVT Cobra intake manifold, throttle body; Ford GT fuel pump, coil covers; Turbonetics T76 turbocharger, Evolution wastegate; Hellion intercooler, 3" stainless steel exhaust; Magnaflow 2.5" mufflers; Nitrous Express single stage, 75-shot wet nitrous system, 12 lb. bottle; SCT X-calibrator 2 flash tuner; Dynojet wideband oxygen monitor
Tremec T-56 6-speed transmission; Centerforce DFX clutch; Ford Motorsports' 31-spline axle shafts; Steeda Tri-Ax short throw shifter
718RWHP, 731 RWTQ @ 19.5 psi boost
Best ET To Date: 10.87 @ 138 mph
Drilled and slotted brake rotors
H.O. Fibertrends Cobra R style hood
Auto Meter boost gauge, fuel pressure gauge; Dynojet wide band air/fuel ratio; Alpine subwoofer in custom box; JL Audio monoblock amplfier
Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates
Wheels And Tires
18 x 9" Speed Star D5R wheels; 285/35R18 Nitto NT555 Extreme tires
Libby Vitiritto, Josh Martz, Pete Vitiritto, Nick Smith, Nick Dressen, Chad Cox, Jason Roth, Kyle Loftis, also Dynosport of Lincoln, NE and Hellion Power Systems