Mustang enthusiasts are a weird bunch. The majority of us like a particular generation of Mustang, and the others – meh, they’re okay. Case in point, most Fox people are diehard Fox enthusiasts. It’s all Fox, all day. However, others prefer the curves of an SN95, or the edges of a New Edge car. Now we have the S197, and S550 models to further muddy the water.
Typically, Mustang enthusiasts stay in their lane. However, there’s one Mustang for which nearly all Mustang enthusiasts have a yearning. That Mustang is a Terminator, aka the 2003-’04 Cobra. It matters not what Mustang lane you drive in, a 2003-’04 Cobra is on your wish list.
Brandon Bergevine already owned a wicked little Vortech YSi-equipped Fox coupe with a Dart-block 331, but during the 2013 winter, he decided to make a change. He sold the Fox, and went looking for a Cobra. “I really wanted a low-mile Sonic blue coupe,” he says. Mild mods were okay with him, and he thought the search would be an easy one. He was wrong.
Brandon caught wind of this particular Cobra when the previous owner had to move from North Carolina to Michigan. Unfortunately, he missed out on the opportunity to buy it before the previous owner moved. Fate intervened when he found the car at a dealer in Virginia that handles performance cars. “As soon as I caught wind the car was there, my girlfriend, Baillee, and I loaded up and made the 3-hour trip north,” Brandon says. After he gave the car a thorough looking over, he made an offer, and the Cobra was his. “We loaded it up on the trailer, and it was back to North Carolina,” he says.
The Cobra had X2C tinted taillights on the car when Brandon purchased it. Evidently, he likes them since they remain in place.
The car perfectly fit what Brandon wanted. He was looking for a lightly-modded Cobra, and this one had just the right amount of performance mods, like a Stiegemeier ported blower, Billet Flow 2.76-inch Ultra Grip pulley, a Lightning Force Performance six pound lower pulley, a trunk-mounted ice box, a JLT Performance ram air intake, an SCT BA2400 meter, MAC long-tube headers, a Lethal Performance off-road X-pipe, Magnaflow after-cat exhaust, 80 lb/hr injectors, a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump, and more. Pro Dyno out of Fort Mill, South Carolina tuned the car using SCT software, with the car receiving a street and track tune, the latter enabling the car to run 10.50s.
The Cobra also had been freed of its independent rear suspension, with a solid-axle 8.8 from a 2004 Mustang GT going in its place with an Eaton Detroit Truetrac differential, Moser 31-spline axles, and 3.90 gears. To help make the 10.50s possible, the solid-axle swap utilized UPR Products Pro Series upper and lower control arms, along with Strange Engineering adjustable shocks and struts. This is quite the list of mild mods, but we really just hit the highlights. The previous owner didn’t ignore the body or interior, either, but you get the idea why Brandon chose this particular Cobra.
“I came home to a big box in the living room with a nice Whipple 2.3 supercharger in it. It was an early and best Christmas present ever.”
Even if the Cobra was exactly what Brandon wanted, that doesn’t mean he didn’t want more. “A few months later I had the itch to go to a bigger blower,” he says. Baillee caught wind of this desire, and set forth to make that happen. “I came home to a big box in the living room with a nice Whipple
2.3 supercharger in it,” Brandon says. “It was an early, and best Christmas present ever.”
To go along with the new blower, Brandon and Pro Dyno’s Dan Desio and Paul Conner agreed it was the perfect time to add bigger cams and larger injectors. This was right before Mustang Week 2014. The new combo made 600 rwhp, and 551 lb-ft or torque in 99-degree July weather. He also did a little horse-trading at that time, negotiating the car’s chrome Cobra wheels for a set of Weld RT-S wheels with Mickey Thompson drag radials. “We took it to Mustang Week 2014, and enjoyed the sights and sounds,” he says.
The engine in Brandon’s Cobra now features Comp Cams blower grinds, Brian Tooley Racing valve springs, and ARP head studs. Pro Dyno handles the tuning on the car, and Brandon plans to have a pump gas and race tune when everything is sorted out. Part of getting the combo sorted out includes a return-style fuel system to handle the engine’s fuel needs.
However, upon returning from Mustang Week, Brandon decided he wanted to go in a different direction with the car. Actually, he wanted to go back to what he knew and loved; a big centrifugal blower. Yes, he almost found himself single after telling Baillee his plan, since she was the one that bought him the Whipple, but they made a deal that if she could drive the Cobra at Mustang Week 2015, all was forgiven.
The interior already boasted a six-point roll bar when Brandon bought the car. If his quarter-mile goals are accomplished, it will need updating. Other than the bar, the interior is largely stock, and comfortable enough for regular use.
Brandon went with a ProCharger F-1 cog drive set-up, with Pro Dyno doing the swap. Pro Dyno also added Comp Cams blower grinds, Brian Tooley Racing valve springs, ARP head studs, and 80 lb/hr injectors. The swap was completed right before Mustang Week 2015, but with the existing fuel system, the engine was out of fuel by 5,000 rpm. Therefore, when we shot it the car wasn’t completely in fighting mode. As is the case with many shops leading up to an event, there just wasn’t enough time to add a fuel system to the car prior to Mustang Week. However, that is getting remedied as we type this with a complete custom return-style fuel system with Injector Dynamics ID1300 injectors. Once the return-style fuel system is finished up, Pro Dyno will set up a tune for pump gas, and one for race gas.
Corbeau five-point harnesses are used to keep Brandon and his passenger safe during spirited and non-spirited driving.
Furthermore, at this power level, the Cobra is going to be a handful with a stick, so Brandon is swapping in a Freddy Brown-built 4R70W in place of the T56. Brandon is hoping Pro Dyno can have the car ready in time for Mustang Week 2016, which shouldn’t be an issue since the event is in July. “My goal with the car is to make good power and run low-9s/high-8s, and still drive it on the street,” Brandon says.
Stressing that most of the parts on the car are “used, or new-to-me,” Brandon says, “I am a working-class guy, corrections officer by trade; not rich at all.” He tells us he has a very supportive girlfriend who puts up with his “crap,” as he puts it. “She is very good to me,” he adds. He also has a circle of friends always willing to help him push the car up onto a trailer when he tears the car apart. “Last! Without Pro Dyno’s Dan Desio, Paul Conner, and Clint Tester, none of this would be possible for me.”
At times, Brandon tells us this car has been a battle, and is still a work in progress, but like all of us, it’s a hobby he loves. He has met a ton of wonderful people via the Cobra. “I hope this car shows people you don’t have to be rich to build a car. It just takes time, hard work, and a little help from friends. People ask me when it’s going to be done, and as car guys, we know it’s never ‘done.’ It’s always a work in progress.”