One of my favorite feature...
One of my favorite feature cars, Tom Clark's '95 Cobra features an ABC Exclusive Cobra R front bumper cover, side skirts, and rear bumper cover. The Cobra R hood and rear wing are from Cervini's Auto Designs, while the sidescoops are from Design Concepts. Even though he's a graphic designer by profession, that line of work has nothing to do with painting cars. He enlisted the experts at Nix Autobody in Gloversville, New York, to cover his Cobra in the factory Oxford White with House of Color graphics. H&R springs lower the car over its TSW Thruxton wheels perfectly. The wheels are 19x8 up front and 20x10 out back. Dunlop Sport Maxx treads reside at all four corners. The result earned Tom our Editor's Choice award at 2009's UPR Products Ford Fest at New England Dragway.
Most show cars only see the light of day on a show field, and the only time they see the road is while riding in or on a trailer. They rarely see the road, especially under their own treads.
Few people dare to bridge the gap between a show car and a driver-or I should say, few people are successful at it. Most drivers only get a spot on the show field because their owners want a good parking spot. They don't come upon their spot honestly. On the opposite side of that coin, most show car owners don't want to risk a paint chip, cracked windshield, or accident driving their cars on the street.
One '95 Cobra I know that successfully bridges this gap is staring back at you. Tom Clark of Ravena, New York, owns it, and I've seen and witnessed it being driven on several occasions. I can vouch for its street cred. Plus it collects trophies like John Force collects Wallys.
Tom bought the Cobra because of the aftermarket support. "The parts for these cars are cheap and you can build a Mustang any way you want," Tom says. As is usually the case, the Cobra was already modified when Tom bought it. The car featured some bolt-ons, a Paxton SN93 supercharger, and custom paint.
"I thought I would be saving money by buying it already modified," Tom said, "but before long, I had upgraded the car and the mods to a higher level." What's more, Tom did the upgrades himself, save for the paint and the engine machining, "some of it learning as I went," Tom added.
His first show was at a Fun Ford Weekend at Englishtown, New Jersey. "I didn't expect to win, but I ended up taking first place in the Cobra class," Tom says. He was shocked by the win, so of course that spurred the continuance of modifications. "It never stopped, and I wanted to do more and more to the car," he adds.
However, as I stated above, this car is not a trailer queen. Tom built a fun driver; the car-show trophies are just a bonus. He proudly tells people that he drives the car all the time, including to and from shows. "When they're surprised it's not trailered, then I know I did a good job," Tom says.
Living in New York means he has three to six hours of drive time to get to the popular Northeast Mustang events like NMRA Atco, the All-Ford show at Carlisle, and New England Dragway's UPR Products Ford Fest, where I shot these photos.
Sure, stone chips and various other road hazards are a concern, but they don't stop Tom from hitting the open road. "I also don't use blue tape on these trips," he says. The tape does its job, but Tom thinks that look detracts from his Cobra's demeanor and undermines the car's raison d'être. In other words, the blue tape would be Tom admitting he holds a car show trophy more valuable than the enjoyment he gets from driving the car.
The interior of Tom's Cobra...
The interior of Tom's Cobra is as custom as the rest of the car. It boasts Dynamic Auto Designs front seats; Corbeau harness belts; Auto Meter gauges; custom gauge rings; an Auto Power rollcage; a rear-seat delete; a custom steering wheel and switch panels; '03-'04 Cobra pedals; painted interior trim panels; and carbon-fiber overlays on the door panels. Since Tom drives the Cobra so much, the car's interior has to be user-friendly and comfortable.
The Cobra's driving enjoyment, Tom says, comes from the car's combination of Maximum Motorsports suspension components, the H&R springs, and Tokico adjustable shocks and struts. "Not only do they enable the car to handle like a slot car, but it's also incredibly comfortable and smooth," Tom says. It does quite well with New York and New Jersey potholes. "Between handling so well and riding so smooth, it makes the car enjoyable to drive, which is important when I'm driving five hours to a show," Tom adds. Tom reports the Cobra rides better than any daily driver he's owned.
Another aspect Tom likes about his car is that he won't see himself going in the other direction. In a sea of Mustangs, his definitely stands out. He has built it to stand out, which is pretty hard to do when there are so many Mustangs out there. "The custom paint, the wheels, the engine compartment, and the car's stance set it apart," Tom says.
He's been finished with the Cobra for a couple years now, so for now he's simply enjoying it. If you see Tom and his Cobra on the open road, he's on his way to pick up another trophy.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Flowtech Induction (Ed Curtis) custom grind
AFR 185cc w/PS3 valvespring upgrade, 2.02/1.60 valves, Scorpion 1.6 roller rockers
Paxton VR-4 supercharger w/3.75-inch pulley, 10 pounds of boost, Vortech bypass, Zex 50hp dry nitrous kit
Lightning 90mm w/K&N filter
Professional Products 75mm, polished
255-lph fuel pump, -8 feed, -6 return fuel lines; high-flow fuel rails; 42-lb/hr injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
BBK short-tube headers, MAC off-road H-pipe, MAC mufflers, center-mount tips
Stock T5 w/SPEC Stage III with aluminum flywheel, Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft, Steeda Autosports Tri-Ax shifter
Stock 8.8 w/3.73 gears, stock differential and axles
Besides the paint, the only...
Besides the paint, the only other area Tom farmed out was the machining of the block by Boyd's Motorworks. Though it's a stock-bore 5.0, Boyd's checked and cleaned the bores, and decked the block to make sure it was true. Tom handled the reassembly using the stock crankshaft, Eagle H-beam connecting rods, and Keith Black 9:1 pistons. The short-block sports a Flowtech Induction custom cam and stock-style roller lifters. The AFR 185cc heads feature a PS3 valvespring upgrade, 2.02/1.60 valves, and Scorpion 1.6-ratio roller rockers. A Cartech sheetmetal intake adds an exotic touch, and is set up with a Fox throttle-body conversion via a Professional Products polished 75mm unit and a Lightning 90mm mass air meter. An old-school Paxton VR-4 supercharger sits off the passenger side huffing out 10 pounds of boost, but a Zex 50hp dry nitrous kit is also on stand-by when more horsepower is needed. Of course, the Zex kit is for cooling purposes only (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). As most know, the '94-'95 computers are rather finicky, but Tom tunes his with a TwEECer RT.
Stock computer, TwEECer custom tune
MSD 6BTM, Blaster coil, MSD Super Conductor spark plug wires, Autolite spark plugs
Stock w/custom gauge rings, Auto Meter
Suspension And Chassis
K-member Stock w/Maximum Motorsports K-member brace
Control Arms Stock
Struts Tokico Illumina five-way adjustable
Springs H&R Super Sport
Camber Plates Maximum Motorsport
Brakes Stock Cobra w/cross-drilled rotors, ceramic brake pads
Wheels TSW Thruxton, 19x8-in
Tires Dunlop Sport Maxx 265/30-19
Shocks Tokico Illumina five-way
Springs H&R Super Sport
Control Arms Maximum Motorsports upper and lower control arms, Panhard bar
Brakes Stock Cobra, cross-drilled and slotted rotors, ceramic pads
Wheels TSW Thruxton, 20x10-in
Tires Dunlop Sport Maxx 285/30-20
Chassis Stiffening Autopower six-point rollcage w/harness bar and Maximum Motorsports subframe connectors