The two became constant show companions, racking up the hardware most places they went. The return from one show, however, was less triumphant than most. Heading back to his home town of Indianapolis from Michigan, the engine began losing oil and pressure. The toasted rear main seal was eventually blamed on a bent crankshaft - itself a mystery, since the car had less than 21K miles and had never been stood on hard. Past experience led Bruce to Mueller's Automotive and Performance in Indianapolis. Like so many of us, they saw an equipment failure as a new opportunity to upgrade the Snake. All forged internals were used, including a stroker crankshaft, to push the engine's displacement out to 5.0-liters. To keep the motor rev-happy, a lightened flywheel was installed and the heads were ported for improved flow. Engine compression was dropped by a point and a half to 8.5, in anticipation of the polished Vortech blower that would be added.
While the engine was apart, Kolb took the opportunity to get the cam covers and the plug covers polished. The cam covers on a four-valve engine are massive, so laying some bling down on them affects an impressive portion of the underhood real estate. As the engine build continued, all the important goodies were added to the mix, including a RAM clutch, 42-lb injectors and MSD ignition controller. These all contributed to a stout result that hasn't emitted a hiccup since. Careful preparation or replacement of other pieces under the hood, including a Kenny Brown chromed strut tower brace and custom-chromed alternator, leave the impression of a burning star under the hood on a sunny day. That approach has seen Bruce take home numerous Best Engine awards, not just for show quality presentation, but for the estimated 500 horsepower tucked underneath all that glitter.
The hardtop's structure has also been substantially beefed up from the installation of Kenny Brown's subframe connectors and a six-point roll bar. A Pro 5.0 short throw shifter and Auto Meter gauges for fuel and boost pressure complete the interior upgrades. A similarly restrained approach on the outside of the Cobra delivers an understated but notable look. The addition of a Steeda rear wing sets the car apart from any siblings that might appear, while the Rio Red paint has had orange pin stripe flames added along the car's flanks. The effect is subtle in some light conditions and startling in others. Rolling stock for this snake has been upgraded to argent painted, 17 x 9-inch Cobra R rims all around, with BF Goodrich Comp T/A radials installed - 245/40-17 in front and 275/40-17 out back.
All of these modifications add up to a car that isn't destined to do well at NOPI shows, but make it entirely suitable for Mustang Club of America 'Modified' class competition. Bruce was truly pleased when the car was awarded 1st Place at the Youngstown MCA Grand National Show, a while back. Other Best in Show awards and a Top Five award from the Nashville 40th Anniversary shindig have added to the car's show pedigree. To date, the Cobra has accumulated 14 MCA 'points' from judging at National and Grand National shows. Bruce has an objective of hitting 20 points, so that the car will receive an MCA grille badge. "The next two shows should do it," he told us.
Sometime after hitting that particular milestone, this Cobra is likely to shed its skin for a new look. A new round of custom paint is in the cards, after molding in and smoothing out a number of exterior details, such as the side scoops and hood vents. Before that can happen, Bruce Kolb must finish his quest - a quest for 20 MCA show points that is.