Fredrick Kyle’s 2003 Mustang Cobra is hands down one of the baddest of its kind in Southern California and has the fangs to prove it. Getting the car to where it is today has been a long journey for Kyle, but the result of the build is all worth it in the long run.
“I bought the car back in 2008 with 20,000 miles on it,” explains Kyle. The was already modified with 3.90 gears, a mild tune, and a 2.3L Whipple supercharger in place of the factory Eaton M112 puffer. Needless to say the car had enough power for the last owner, but Kyle wanted more, a lot more. Shortly after purchasing the car, Kyle called up Greg Monroe over at Racer’s Edge Tuning (RET) and set up an appointment to get it dyno tuned.
With the tune finished, the car made 518 hp at the rear wheels. Kyle drove the car around for two weeks before he decided that he wanted more power. Kyle then brought the car back to RET for another tune and the result this time was a healthy 580 hp at the rear wheels. Kyle was finally happy with the power his car was making for the time being – who wouldn’t love 580 hp at the command of their right foot?
Driving the car on the more aggressive 580 hp tune took its toll on the engine, eventually a failed head gasket, possibly the result of early ’03 Cobra cylinder head problems sidelined Kyle’s Cobra.
Instead of rebuilding the current blown engine, Kyle decided to start fresh with a built engine from Muscle Motors along with Livernois Motorsports stage 3 ported heads and cams with a custom grind. A return-style fuel system with dual Aeromotive Ford GT fuel pumps, Viper spec Tremec T56 transmission, MAC long tube headers, and a catless x-pipe were also ordered. Once all the parts were acquired, Kyle brought it all to Racer’s Edge Tuning to have the engine assembled and dropped in the car.
A suspenseful six months later, Kyle picked up his revived Cobra from (RET). After a few weeks of driving the car to break the engine and clutch in, he called Monroe to have the car tuned on pump gas. A healthy 612 hp and 542 ft-lbs was put to the rear wheels.
After driving the car for a couple of weeks, Kyle Realized that there was definitely more power to be made, so he called Monroe to set up another appointment for yet another tune, but this time it was going to be a “race” tune. With the addition of a 2.75-inch pulley on the 2.3L Whipple blower, the car was making 673 hp and 665 ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheels. On the first dyno run while tuning the car, the Whipple blower managed to spin to a wild 30psi and was over-spun on the second run.
Roughly three weeks after the tune, Kyle’s Cobra was mysteriously having a serious problem with the engine losing oil after every time he started it. The car would also release puffs of dreaded blue smoke after every time he stabbed the gas pedal, which meant the oil wasn’t leaking out of the engine, but was being consumed in the combustion process.
Kyle called Monroe right away to describe what was happening with the car and he told him to bring it in to get compression and leakdown tested. After performing the two tests, the results didn’t look good at all. With the devastating information from the two tests, Kyle gave Monroe the thumbs-up to tear down the engine and find the problem. It turns out that Kyle’s engine was leaking from the valve guides in his cylinder heads.
That incident left the Cobra dormant for a year, but it wasn’t stopping Kyle from reaching the goals he had for his car. After talking to John Mihovetz, owner of Accufab Racing, things were looking up for the new build. The car was left with Mihovetz at Accufab, with the foundation of the build to be one of the company’s aluminum race blocks capable of handling up to 2,300 hp. A Spec Stage 3 clutch was purchased, and Kyle had the Whipple blower rebuilt. With the new parts in place, Kyle finally had his beloved Cobra back on the road and was ecstatic to be driving it after it had been down for so long. With the break-in miles out of the way, Kyle felt that his new setup on the Cobra needed more power and knowing that his engine could handle it, he decided to step up to a 2.9L Whipple blower from the 2.3L that he previously had on his last setup.
Shortly after the new Whipple was delivered, Kyle took it right over to Monroe at RET for install and a tune. Monroe got it running and on the dyno for tuning shortly after Kyle brought it over. On the first dyno run after installing the blower, the car made a healthy 726 hp on 18.6psi. That is a nice jump in power, considering that the 2.3L blower with a 2.75-inch pulley made 673 hp at 30psi. The larger blower meant the volume of air being moved was significantly more, but with less stress on the blower.
Although the new setup performed great during its dyno session, bad luck struck again during the drive home. Without warning, the engine shut off. Unable to start the car again, Kyle had it towed the rest of the way home. The next day, he spent some time trying to diagnose the problem at hand. Kyle narrowed his car’s problem down to three possible factors; a battery issue, starter issue, or alternator issue.
After installing the new starter he tried turning the engine over. Still, nothing was happening. Kyle was struck with the idea of removing the supercharger belt, and tired that approach. The engine turned over easily without the blower belt connected, so he now knew that it was nothing electrical and that the blower had failed.
After giving Whipple a call, Kyle sent the blower back. Whipple inspected the unit and after diagnosing the problem, they sent a new replacement blower to Kyle.
A couple of months went by with the new blower on the car and Kyle decided to finally take it to Irwindale’s drag strip for the first time since taking ownership of the car. The first run went great, but the second run of the night was cut short due to a broken half shaft during the launch. Since this was Kyle’s daily driver at the time, he ordered The Driveshaft Shop‘s 1,000 hp rated pro-level half shafts the next day. Kyle had the half shafts installed and the car was on the road again, but he still felt that there was more power to be made with this combination.
After four months of enjoying the 2.9L Whipple on his Cobra, Kyle came across a high horsepower setup that he absolutely couldn’t refuse – a complete HP Performance Stage II twin-turbo kit based around two 57mm Precision turbos as well as all the parts needed to perform the conversion.
He also purchased a Turbosmart e-Boost2 boost controller to keep the boost pressure under control. After two months of the car being down again, Kyle’s Cobra finally came to life, and this time with not one, but two of satan’s hairdryers. Kyle drove the car for a while and loved the power the turbos were making, but he still felt there was more power to play with. With this realization, he made the call to HPP and ordered a Sullivan lower intake manifold and the HPP upper intake. He also had a custom inlet pipe made for better airflow.
The new intake manifold was installed and the car was making great power on the dyno – a stout 700 hp to the rear tires, after Monroe tuned it. Kyle loved the way the car was feeling and the amount of power the turbos were making, but he inevitably wanted more power. It’s like a curse – once you have a fast car, you just want to go faster.
Monroe told Kyle that there was definitely more power to be made, but his current fuel pumps were maxed out. In search of more power, Kyle consulted with Redline Performance Motorsports that gave him some useful pointers to make more power. They pointed Kyle in the direction of a Magnafuel 750 fuel pump and a sump fuel tank. RET promptly installed the mods. Lusting for more power, Kyle again decided he wanted another race tune, so Monroe obliged. The outcome was impressive, 818 hp and 708 ft-lbs of torque at the rear tires.
Stoked on the numbers, Kyle took his baby out for a test drive and, obviously, to have a little fun while doing so. Sitting at a red light, he looked down and noticed his oil pressure gauge dropping right before his eyes. He gave the car a little gas to move it out of the middle of the road and his oil pressure gauge went up.
After getting the car home, he performed a visual inspection with no luck of catching anything. Suspecting that it could be the oil pressure sensor, he called RPM the next day and had them order a sensor. Monroe installed the sensor first thing after it was delivered to RET and the gauge still showed almost o oil pressure.
In a state of utter confusion, Kyle once again called up Mihovetz and had the car towed to Accufab. Upon arrival, Mihovetz tested oil pressure with a mechanical gauge – the results weren’t good at all. The oil filter was sent out for an analysis and the sample came back with a bunch of copper shavings, which indicated bearing problems, a new engine would be needed.
My favorite part about the car is probably the motor; not everyone has a built Accufab Racing motor. – Fredrick Kyle
Mihovetz and Kyle discussed the situation for a bit and then agreed on pulling the engine out to build a better one. Kyle was told that the build would take somewhere around six to eight weeks. The beginning of week nine, Kyle received a call from Mihovetz saying that his engine was done, so he went to pick it up and deliver it to RET to have Monroe start on swapping it in.
A week later, Kyle had his car back with a fully built Accufab racing engine equipped with nothing but the best parts. Another 1,500 miles passed by for the break-in period of the engine and Monroe was back at work tuning it to Kyle’s standards. Before the tune, Kyle and Monroe discussed power and quickly came to the conclusion that Kyle doesn’t need an 800 hp race tune for the streets, so Monroe tuned the engine for a more than healthy 672 hp and 570 ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheels, which would help the engine retain it’s reliability.
If you see Kyle cruising around the streets of Southern California, give him some props on his awesome Cobra – it truly is an awesome machine and the sound of the twin turbos forcing air through the engine is enough to bring you to your knees. Happy hunting, Mr. Kyle.