Vinnie The Hitman
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Michael Galimi, Frank Cicerale

We baselined our Cobra with a 1:24.77 lap time and were able to pound down some rather strong and consistent supporting numbers. Due to our Cobra's relatively weak factory-stock cooling system, we were able to only get four laps before the engine management system began taking timing and rpm out from the excessive engine temp.

A few weeks later, we went back armed with our new suspension. Using the exact same tire pressures, track configuration, and driver, we'd be able to see exactly how much better our car would handle.

After one warm up lap, Chris dove into the Cobra's deep torque curve and quickly applied the power from turn to turn, posting three times that were eerily consistent: 1:18.92, 1:18.55, and 1:18:03, all of which were improving as he went along. Like last time, the engine began running too hot for the EEC-V's comfort, and any throttle input resulted in a rev limiter that sounded like the traction control was on in the burnout box. Despite laying down just four laps, we were able to record a solid 6.74-second improvement.

Like in drag racing, having nearly seven seconds shaved off your time on a road course that is over a minute long is like an eternity. As Chris mentioned, "The suspension is night and day. It gets more power to the ground in the turns and relies on the tires for more grip, whereas the stock suspension gave up before the tires did. Put an R-compound tire on this car and you're talking serious numbers."

Afterwards, I then strapped myself into the car to see what he was talking about. Without a doubt, he hit everything right on the head. When the car was stock, it felt top-heavy and wallowed. Also, in slower turns, the rear always felt disconnected, as the inside wheel would never put the power down, no matter how hard the 8.8's diff tried.

With the Steeda suspension, however, the rear stayed planted under power, and more impressively, would rotate slightly under deceleration in a turn. In higher-speed sweeping turns, the car was much more stable, eliminating the stock suspension's tendency to gyrate under full acceleration.

Getting power from a Terminator is so easy most people don't need to spend more than a few hours of wrench-turning to make 500 hp. But getting that power to the ground on the street, well, that's a whole other part of the equation. Sure, one can build an 1,100 rwhp car for the dyno and spin tires in Fifth gear for Internet junkies to watch online, but we'd rather have our 453 rwhp and use every one of them everywhere we go. Thanks to Steeda, we now can.

Tire Testing
For our track test, we relied on the capable hands of Chris Winter to drive our Cobra test vehicle. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he's popped up several times in our magazine as the proprietor of Crazy Horse Racing in South Amboy, New Jersey. When not busy running his Dynojet, he spends his time at Raceway Park's road course managing its layout and accommodating the needs of all racers. In his free time, he's an avid road race junkie that instructs for the PDA, the Performance Drivers Association (www.pdadrivingschool.com).

So with our Cobra in his capable hands, Chris gave us the skinny on how the car fared with both the stock suspension and the 18-inch Nitto INVO tires compared to the NT-555 tires that were mounted on the stock Cobra wheels. When the car was stock, he complained about the amount of slop and how impossible it was to apply power anywhere in a turn. In transitions, the stock suspension was not liking it, as side-to-side weight transfer was quite pronounced. As for the tires, he mentioned that the NT-555 tires made the Cobra have more understeer, but the INVOs transformed the predictability of the car as it had a more approachable limit. Once at that limit, the tires did not bite you back if you were in a slide. Interestingly, Winter was quicker on the smaller NT-555s, which are more competition bred with its 260 treadwear.