Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 15, 2014
Photos By: Brad Stillwell

If you've never driven a Terminator, you owe it to yourself to get behind the wheel of one at least once. Sure they are overshadowed by the horsepower of modern Mustangs. However, they are really the cars that ushered in the sort of easy bolt-on power that we enjoy from today's 'Stangs. It's easy to vividly remember your first drive in the first factory supercharged, six-speed Mustang. These cars were cool and they still carry that rep today, for good reason.

"I was hooked on getting an '03 Cobra after I spent a weekend terrorizing the streets with a friend," Nicholas Shortridge confessed. "My first experience was with a ported blower, 100-shot-of-nitrous, drag-radial Cobra. It was the most fun, easiest bang-for-the-buck straight out of the box."

When you whet your appetite with a Terminator that already has a stout roster of bolt-on performance enhancers, you are really setting the stage for wanting a car and wanting to mod it in a hurry. Nicholas finally picked up his first '03 Cobra in 2005, and it already had a ported blower onboard and it was putting down 500 hp to the street. That might be enough for some, but not Nicholas. Yet, he had to be patient and wait to finish college before he could really start in on the car the way he wanted to.

His real start at modding had a serious launch. It began with a single-turbo kit. "...Built it in my garage. It was a great kit and it made 650 wheel (horsepower) and hurt some feelings—especially those cocky C6 Corvette guys," he explained. "It was great to make 650 wheel with A/C and power steering, and anyone could drive it. After getting bored with 650, I moved to Texas for work and the car took on a new life."

They say things are bigger in the Lone Star state. Apparently things get bigger when they move to Texas too—including car builds and horsepower numbers. Upon arriving there, Nicholas picked up a daily driver and turned his Cobra into a full-on project car.

These cars were cool and they still carry that rep today, for good reason.

"I was hooked on getting an '03 Cobra after I spent a weekend terrorizing the streets with a friend."

As you can see, it got more aggressive—far more aggressive. Of course, when you start flirting with the bleeding edge, it's best to rely on people with experience. To that end, Nicholas commissioned HPP Racing (www.hppmotorsports.com) in Lewisville, Texas, to construct a stroker modular based on the heralded Teksid aluminum block. They put together a stout 5.0-liter modular that lives in the car to this day.

"HPP Racing built this motor four years ago," Nicholas raved. "I think I made the right decision. It belted out 1,338 wheel without missing a beat."

Of course, it takes more than a built 5.0 to roll deep into the four-digit range. Nicholas loved turbos but believed a big single was intractable for the street. He really wanted twins, and he wanted to keep the creature comforts. For this task, he turned to CG Fabrication (www.cgfabrication.com).

"Making power has never been a problem since going turbo. The package was just never well-rounded or streetable," Nicholas explained. "This turbo kit was built custom for my car, but it is now sold to anyone. Retaining all the accessories is impressive for a kit that is capable of 1,500-wheel horsepower."

Capabilities are one thing, but getting a built motor and a custom turbo kit to play nicely together on the street and the track is no small feat. The Terminator electronics are not nearly as advanced as those found in modern 'Stangs, and even those would struggle to do what Nicholas asks of his car's EFI. He simply wants to rein in 1,000 on the street and over 1,300 at the track.

Making that happen was the crew at JMS Racing (www.jmsracing.net) in Converse, Texas. They selected the Pro EFI 128 engine management system for '03-'04 Mustangs, which is Pro EFI's (www.proefi.com) only Ford application at the moment. To say this system offers a full complement of modern options would be an understatement. Its features include traction control, flex-fuel capabilities, wideband oxygen sensors, knock sensors, multiple fuel pump controls, and even a switch to toggle between calibrations for different octane levels.

JMS Racing tuned up the Pro EFI with calibrations for both low-boost/street and high-boost race scenarios with eye-watering results. "The car has traction control and it can put down 1,000-plus on the street," Nicholas enthused. "Yes, I repeat, you can make over 1,000 and keep it between the lines."

If that weren't impressive enough, Nicholas's Cobra can also seamlessly transition from E85, on which its biggest numbers are generated, and 93-octane pump gas. "The Pro EFI manages the air/fuel ratios and ethanol percentage with a GM Flex Fuel sensor," he explained. "So, you can put 93-octane pump gas on top of E85 with no changes. JMS tuned the car to adjust and run perfect. No matter the ethanol content, it runs the same tune."

As of this writing, Nicholas' best e.t. with only three passes with the Pro EFI system was a 9.85 at 144 mph. He hopes to better those quarter-mile times, while retaining the six-speed and IRS. Nicholas also wants to make a run a the Texas Mile's 200-mph club, so this bolt-ons to ballistic story isn't quite over yet ...

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Tech Specs: 2003 Cobra

Engine and Drivetrain

Block: Teksid aluminum 4.6 block
Crankshaft: HPP Racing Kellog stroker
Rods: Eagle H-beam
Pistons: Custom JE, HPP Racing-spec
Camshafts: HPP Racing-spec custom
Cylinder heads: Ported '03 Cobra Four-Valve aluminum
Intake manifold: Sullivan lower with CG Fabrication custom Big Mouth upper
Power Adder: Two Precision turbo 6766 turbos w/ CG Fabrication street kit feature 46mm Precision wastegates
Fuel system: Walbro 255-lph fuel pump w/ two in-line Walbro 450-lph pumps in Fore Innovations fuel hat, Sullivan fuel rails, Fuelab regulator, and 160-lb/hr Billet Atomizer injectors
Exhaust: CG Fabrication forward-facing headers w/ CG Fabrications custom, dual 3-in exhaust
Transmission: T-56 six-speed manual assembled by Nicholas Shortridge w/ solid keys and an iron 3-4 shift fork
Rearend: Stock IRS 8.8-in w/ 3.55 gears, Full Tilt Boogie Delrin bushing kit, Fore Innovations differential cover, and solid custom mounts

Electronics

Engine management: Pro EFI 128 standalone tuned by JMS Racing (Converse, Texas)
Ignition: Stock w/ NGK B8EFs gapped tight
Gauges: Stock

Suspension and Chassis

Front suspension
K-member: UPR Products tubular
A-arms: UPR Products tubular
Struts: Strange 10-way adjustable
Springs: Maximum Motorsports coil-over
Brakes: Stock w/ Full Tilt Boogie two-piece rotors
Wheels: HRE 545 three-piece aluminum, 18x10-in (street) or Weld RT-S 15-in (drag)
Tires: Michelin Pilot 275/40-18 (street) or M&H radial (drag)

Rear suspension
Shocks: KYB adjustable
Springs: Maximum Motorsports coil-over
Control Arms: Stock
Brakes: Stock w/ Full Tilt Boogie two-piece rotors
Wheels: HRE 545 three-piece aluminum, 18x11-in (street) or Weld RT-S 15-in (drag)
Tires: Michelin Pilot 275/40-18 (street) or M&H radial (drag)

Horse Sense: Of the 13,476 Mustang Cobras built in the '03 model year, only 758 were built with Redfire Metallic paint and Graphite interiors like Nicholas'.