Vinnie The Hitman
October 1, 2008
Photos By: Michael Galimi
It was time to install the new cold-air system. Here, the Steeda unit shines in front of what was in the car when we bought it, and the stock airbox which is all the way in back. Mustang Magic tested several air filter systems for these cars and found the Steeda piece to work best. Its quality construction and attractive price are a crowd favorite.

After a fresh oil change, a new MGW shifter, two new front wheel bearings, and some new rear tires, our Cobra was ready for the track. With a pair of spankin'-new 275/40/17 Nitto NT555R drag radials mounted in back, we took the Cobra down to Old Bridge Township's Raceway Park in New Jersey for its new life as an MM&FF test vehicle. With a short time of 1.81, the original clutch just lost a few of its last legs as we experienced some slipping off the line, so we didn't powershift the car in order to preserve the clutch for the rest of the day. Despite a little slip, we were amazed to see the car power through the traps to a leisurely 12.74 at 109.38 mph. Granted, it still had the original owner's aforementioned tweaks, but we consider this performance indicative of a Cobra with just a couple of minor bolt-ons thrown on it with some good traction. As we move on, we'll be looking to improve the vehicle's overall performance, both on the street, strip, and road course.

Magical Happenings
Thanks to the many performance shops that have made an incredible name for themselves ever since SVT put a blower on the Lightning and Cobra, finding a qualified tuner isn't all that difficult. There's the usual cast of suspects, but the crew at one of our favorite places to visit, Mustang Magic in Deer Park, New York, just happen to be '03-'04 Cobra experts as well. Proprietor Joe Panciarello and his team of trained misfits were able to accommodate us in our quest for increased Pony performance-on a Saturday, no less.

Because Mustang Magic has modified so many Cobras over the years, it has been able to effectively put together a list of items that works well for the street/strip enthusiast. For our Cobra, Mustang Magic recommended its Cobra Magicpak Stage 1 (PN CPMP-1), which features five key components, including a stainless steel MagnaFlow x pipe system with high-flow catalytic converters, MAC's 2.5-inch after-cat aluminized exhaust, a Steeda cold-air induction system, a custom SCT tune to the ECM, and a Mustang Magic supercharger pulley with a new belt, all for $1,949. In total, the kit promises to offer 100 hp more over stock. Digging through our MM&FF archives, we were able to find dyno numbers of 350-360 rwhp for a stocker, meaning that with Mustang Magic's advertised gain of 100 more horsepower, we'd be looking at results in the 450-460 rwhp range. Based on our experience, it was a reasonable estimate.

With our test car on the dyno rollers at Mustang Magic for its maiden run, we were prepared to see higher-than-stock numbers because the car already had some modifications performed, and the DynoJet 248c told the story once the rollers came to a rest. We estimated about 400 rwhp, but to our amazement, this Cobra cranked out a corrected 420.32 rwhp at 6,000 rpm and 389.39 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. Considering the limited modifications that were already on the car, these results were a bit on the high side, but we attested this anomaly to the car's high mileage and gentle highway-driven lifestyle. A backup run confirmed the numbers. The temperature was a balmy 83.17 degrees with relative humidity at 51 percent. A mineshaft day this was not.

With our Cobra unstrapped from the dyno and placed on Mustang Magic's service lift, technician Steve Shaughnessy went right to work, starting things off by removing the factory supercharger pulley and airbox assembly. Using a special puller manufactured by Metco Motorsports, Shaughnessy carefully removed the pressed-on supercharger pulley and installed the 3.0-inch Mustang Magic pulley. The decrease in the supercharger's driven pulley diameter increases supercharger speed in relation to engine speed, for increased boost all across the rpm range. Manifold pressure goes from 8 psi to 13 psi with this simple modification. Next up, the Steeda cold-air kit was mounted to the factory 90mm mass air meter and laid into place with the aluminum heat shield protecting it from the radiator's turbulent and hot air.