Before the Mustang Shelby GT500 was revived in 2007, Ford sent its New Edge Mustang Cobra out with a bang. Actually, it was a whine, courtesy of a factory Eaton supercharger bolted to the 2003 and 2004 models. Arriving over a decade before the notorious supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8, the 2003-2004 Cobras garnered the nickname Terminator because at the time, they pretty much ruled the muscle car world in terms of power and performance.
This recent dyno video from Chris Sullivan on YouTube reminds us why. Terminator Cobras have a reputation for making big power from big engine mods, but this one only features a few minor bolt-ons. The stock supercharger is still in place, as are the exhaust manifolds, camshafts, and the intake. Upgrades include a pulley swap for the blower, bumping boost pressure from 8 to 13 pounds. And the engine breathes through an upgraded manifold-back exhaust system. Though minor, those changes are enough for this 20-year-old Mustang to make 498 horsepower at the wheels.
Factoring in an average driveline loss of 15 percent, that’s approximately 590 hp at the engine – considerably more than Ford’s stock rating of 390 hp back in the day. Suffice it to say, it didn’t take Cobra owners long to realize the supercharged 4.6-liter engine was actually underrated; folks from Ford’s old SVT crew often hinted at 425 hp when the Terminator was new, and that’s backed up by typical wheel-hp ratings of around 370 from completely stock cars.
This particular Cobra is extra special. Aside from a very low production run for 2004 (3,768 were built all total), only 299 received a coat of Screaming Yellow paint. It was a one-year color option for the Cobra, though it was also avaiable on the SVT Focus. Only Competition Orange is rarer for the Terminator Mustangs.
While these cars were known for big supercharged power at a time when 300 hp was big news, all the New Edge-era Cobras (1999-2004) gained independent rear suspension, a first for the enduring pony car. This improved the ride quality and handling characteristcs of its aging fox platform, and wouldn’t be seen again under the Mustang until the sixth-generation launch in 2015.
The combination of power, performance, suspension, and rarity have elevated the 2003-2004 Cobras to legit modern-classic status. Scoring a nice, low-mile example today can easily set you back $50,000.
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