Some people will be inclined to call Bill Riggs a dreamer. On the surface, they'd be right, as Bill's killer SN-95 has yet to achieve the performance goals he set when initiating the build two years ago. However we'd offer up that there's a big difference between a guy who simply talks smack about what he's "going to do," and a guy who is sorting out the inevitable teething issues of what he has already done-replete with 1,000hp potential! From that point of view, we'll jump on the bandwagon and call Bill a big dreamer, and in this instance, that's no slam.
A combination of styling pieces...
A combination of styling pieces lend a unique look to Bill Riggs' wild '94. He was able to get an out-of-production front fascia and hood from Kenne Bell (don't call, they don't have them anymore) to really further the FR500 theme, while the rear cover is from Cervini's. The rockers and rear-quarter mods were done in metal.
Right up front, we should mention that Bill would prefer to have the hard numbers-no matter the results-rather than share his lofty, yet unattained goals in such a public forum. For that, we give him plenty of credit. In the end, however, the opportunity to shoot a car while fresh and available is an overriding principle in the magazine biz. The desire to fill our pages with quality images of quality cars-something decidedly different in this case-usually takes precedent over waiting for the numbers to come in. Experience tells us that it can sometimes take months, if not years, for such tangible results to arrive.
So what we have here is a loaded-for-bear '94 that has yet to prove it's metal, but clearly has the goods to deliver something impressive. Just as we went to press, Riggs' car had been given a low-boost/pump-gas tune (sans methanol injection) that belted out 724 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque on the Dynojet at Portland Speed Industries in Hillsboro, Oregon. With more break-in miles, a big-boost/race-fuel/methanol-injected tune figures to raise the numbers considerably, and yet the big dyno number isn't one of Riggs' performance goals-rather a measure that he's on the right track. We can see that he is.
The path to this over-the-top effort all started in 1999, when Bill set out to buy a modular Cobra to enjoy on the street. It had been a few years since he'd been immersed in performance cars, but extensive drag racing in the early '60s, co-ownership of a machine shop in the '70s, and owning a '70 Boss 429 in the '80s shows a pattern that would eventually resurface.
As go so many stories, the '98 Cobra Bill eventually bought didn't remain stock for long, and he quickly became hooked on "late-model" performance. By the time a fluke fire destroyed a good portion of the slithering steed, it sported all kinds of go-fast goodies, including a Kenne Bell supercharger. The fire was a setback, of course, yet it provided an opportunity to start from scratch.
Bill decided he wanted to build an extreme street car this time around, something capable of supercar performance while maintaining good driveability. "Trailer queens are not my bag," says Bill. "Unless the car breaks, I want to be driving it whenever I can." For the ambitious new endeavor, he turned to Performance Systems NW in Portland, Oregon, where Jon Dewar was tasked with the majority of the build.
Due to the fire damage, they decided to acquire another SN-95 body to start with a clean slate. An unmodified '94 became the basis for the effort, and it was stripped to the bone alongside the damaged Cobra. Truth be told, not much was reused from the later chassis beyond some trim and chassis components. Rather, the majority of the '94 was assembled from new parts.
The interior is a dramatically...
The interior is a dramatically different scene than a stock '94 thanks to a Momo wheel, leather covered Cerullo seats, Maximum Motorsports roll bar, and Auto Meter gauge pod filled with the company's Nexus gauges. Jon Dewar reworked the rear passenger area to eliminate the seat, and make room for the Team Z mini-tubs.
Dewar and company prepared the unibody for the rigors of extreme performance, installing an eight-point rollbar, subframe connectors, and mini-tubbing the rear to make way for steam-roller rolling stock. The exterior was turned over to Autowerks in Bend, Oregon, for custom metalwork in the rocker and rear quarter-panels per Bill's specification. Once finished, Steve Dykman at Brady's Auto Body was called on to lay down the Gunmetal Gray metallic in a Dupont two-stage, along with pearlescent FR500 graphics.
While possessing monster power...
While possessing monster power potential thanks to the twice-boosted 5.0-liter DOHC mill, the engine compartment is finished with a show-car eye for detail. Bill is quick to credit Stan Chorney for a variety of billet trim, and John Dewar at Performance Systems NW for assembly and tuning of the underhood masterpiece. Dewar deviated somewhat from the standard HPP twin-turbo system, employing twin Tial wastegates and blowoff valves, and fabricating most of the cold side himself.
The FR500 theme started with cylinder heads that Bill had installed on his '98, and it became the overall emphasis due to the owner's infatuation with Ford Racing's '99 prototypes. Granted, with the original FR500 being a New Edge model, the idea wasn't to actually replicate the original, but be inspired by it. That inspiration spread from the heads to encompass 5.0 liters of displacement, widened FR500 replica wheels, and the aforementioned body mods. Also of note are the front fascia and hood, obsolete Kenne Bell parts which really look the FR500 part. Decidedly non-FR500 is the twin-turbo powerplant-well, the displacement and the FR500 Four-Valve heads are the same, but not much else.
The original FR500 used a normally aspirated 5.0-liter DOHC, featuring a big-bore aluminum block that would later become available from FRPP. However, the FR500's 415 hp didn't suffice for Bill's goals of 9-second e.t./150-mph trap speed/200-mph top speed. Indeed, it was impossible to achieve such parameters and any degree of civility without a power adder, and in this case, there are two. He turned to HPP Racing in Dallas, Texas, for one of its twin-turbo systems, employing a pair of 61mm Precision T4 hairdryers, a custom intercooler, headers, 3-inch downpipes, and much more. HPP says its system has made over 1,000 hp on a basically stock '03 Cobra, lending credence to Bill's overall goals.
Modular Mustang Racing was tapped to build the engine that would receive up to 28 pounds of boost-in this case, one of its Street Mod 950s, which uses a Terminator iron-block and forged stroker crank to achieve a mythic 5.0 liters of displacement. MMR also massaged the already impressive FR500 cylinder heads and topped it all with a single-plane Sullivan intake. Backing the whole affair is an MMR-modified TKO 600 five-speed, what the company calls its "Pro Trans 900" in deference to its suitability for up to 900-horse combinations.
As described, it's obvious that Bill's '94 will be capable of some pretty impressive feats once dialed in and ready to rock. The ambitious project is on the home stretch, and if it comes up short of his dream goals, it likely won't be by much. Either way, this is automotive nirvana for Bill-a combination of individuality, muscular good looks, and street performance with few equals.
Hey, if you're going to be a dreamer, dream big!
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block Iron '03 Cobra
Crankshaft MMR 3.75-inch forged
Rods Manley H-beam
Pistons Manley forged
Camshafts Custom MMR Stage II turbo grind
Oil Pan MMR 7-quart street/strip
Power Adder HPP twin-turbo system w/FJO methanol injection
Cylinder Heads FR500, Stage II MMR ported
Intake Manifold Sullivan
Throttle Body Wilson 90mm
Fuel System Summit fuel cell, Aeromotive pump and regulator, Precision Turbo 95-lb/hr injectors, -10/-8 braided lines, Sullivan fuel rails
Exhaust HPP headers, custom 3-inch X-pipe, Spintech muffs, 3-inch tailpipes by Custom Exhaust Specialties
Transmission MMR Pro Trans 900 five-speed, MMR twin-disc clutch, Lakewood bellhousing, Steeda shifter
Rearend Modified 8.8 w/9-inch ends, 3.27 gears, Strange 33-spline axles, Strange posi
Engine Management Big Stuff 3, tuned by Jon Dewar
Chassis and Suspension
K-member Tubular QA1
Control Arms Tubular QA1
Struts Koni DA coilovers
Springs Maximum Motorsports
Caster/Camber Maximum Motorsports
Brakes Wilwood six-piston, 14-inch
Wheels FR500 replica, 18x9-inch
Tires BFG 275/35ZR-18
Control Arms Team Z
Torque Arm Maximum Motorsports Watt's Link FAYS2
Brakes Wilwood four-piston, 12-inch
Wheels FR500 replica, widened to 18x12-inch by Weldcraft Wheels
Tires BFG 345/30R-18 drag radial