Pros: "Great value, super car performance, a real kick"
Cons: "super car performance, sports car ride?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The first time you see this car the aggressive front fascia reaches out and sucks you in drawing your gaze to the twin vents in the hood before sending you to the side view where you immediately recognize the scalloped side panels and the scoop located just forward of the rear wheel opening. Continuing to the rear your eyes are captured by the three inch chrome exhaust tips protruding slightly through the rear fascia and it's all over, you have to drive it and once you do, if you have 50 weight coursing through your veins there is no way you won't want this car. As soon as you light it up the pure raw power comes coursing through your body from every point of contact with the car. You know for sure that you are in the presence of greatness and that you are about to experience something very rare.
I slipped that 03 Dark Shadow Grey Convertible into first gear and eased out the clutch, now rolling I worked up through the gears letting each shift slip in to place as we cruised along waiting for the temp gauge to reach the normal range. Once there I got assurance from the salesman that it was quite alright to exercise the beast and make sure everything was functioning properly. I stopped, selected first gear brought it up to 3000 RPM and dumped the clutch. The grossly overpowered rear tires went up in smoke as the Cobra jumped forward, the tach hit 7000 and the blower was screaming all at the same time, talk about sensory overload, I grabbed second gear never lifting my right foot and the Cobra just kept digging without complaint, smoke continued to roll off the rear tires and from that point on I was a very busy man. There was no more watching gauges, it was just sound and feel and by the time I hit fourth gear the rear tires had caught up, the speedometer had way exceeded the legal limit, my passenger was grinning from ear to ear already trying to compute his commision and I was in a place I had nearly forgotten existed. At 65 I had already sold off all of my go-fast stuff as competing in the NHRA had gotten way beyond my financial means and sponsors were becoming harder to find and demanded way more of my time than I was willing to give. Up to this point I had not given much thought to the weekend warrior thing but that Cobra re-lit a fire in me that could only be soothed by the sound, the power and the speed of a well tuned hot rod. I bought that 2003 Cobra (paid the asking price, never ever did that before) in April 2007 one week after my wife bought a 2007 V6 Mustang with the Pony Package, leather seats, special trim, black with white striping on the rocker panels which was the first time I saw that Terminator. I had written down the VIN and went home to research the car. It had less than 20,000 miles and the dealer had kept the car in his showroom for a full year before he sold it. It was born in March 2003, sold for the first time in March 2004 and I bought it three years later. Since purchasing the Cobra I was able to get an actual window sticker from Ford as well as the authenticating paperwork from Special Vehicles Team. I have done some minor tuning, full length ceramic coated headers, x-pipe, 3 inch exhaust, magna flows, 2.81 inch pulley, SCT hand held tuner, hours on the dyno and three legitimate pulls at the local drag strip all of which were in the low eleven second range but even on an 11 and 1/2 inch wide drag radial traction was still an issue that would only be over come by extensively reworking the rear suspension and a set of 2 inch lowering springs, drilled and slotted rotors and a new set of bushings was as far as I was willing to go so the Cobra is now my daily driver and I went nuts on a 93 notch back I had sitting in the back yard. I located a low mileage 04 Cobra engine and trans, swapped out the blower for a bigger one, head work, bigger injectors and 850 horsepower later still running the factory crank, rods and pistons I am once again enjoying life 9 seconds at a time and anytime in between I still have my Terminator to brighten my day.
I regret having to say this but the 2003/04 Cobra is not for everyone, as proven by all the totally destroyed examples lying around in wrecking yards that specialize in these types of performance cars, but the waiting list for the power plants from these beasts is a testament to the desire for the raw power these engines are capable of with a relatively small investment.
I have been offered a lot more for mine than I paid for it and considerably more than the blue book value but I believe I'll be keeping this little hot rod for a long time. Bottom line, if you ever get the opportunity to drive one go for it. I know there are a lot of way more powerful cars out there today but each and every one of them owe their existence to the 2003 Mustang Cobra, factory rated at 390 rear wheel horsepower and every one of them are there. For about $600.00 and an after noon of your time you can add a cold air intake and with a hand held tuner you can increase that to a very real 430 horsepower and trust me you can feel all of them every time you call on them.
It is a bona-fide sports car, it's loud, the ride is harsh to put it kindly, the straight cut gears in the transmission are whiney and difficult to power shift if you are not proficient with that type transmission but it was intended for road course work which is far different than drag racing and the reason I replaced the one in my 93 for a Richmond Sequential shift transmission. The 2003 Cobra is a visceral experience that is in great demand because of it's very significant place in the history of the Mustang. It is a great car that never got the acknowledgement that it deserved. The qualities of a super car, low power to weight ratio, check, acceleration zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds, check, capable of speeds in excess of 200 (electronically limited to 155) the C production land speed record of over 200 miles per hour was held by a Terminator, limited production numbers (total production 2003/04 coupe and convertible 19,140) with each engine hand built by the same two guys from start to finish with a plate bearing their signatures attached to the passenger side cam cover. Was it the price? at thirty grand for the coupe and thirty five for the convertible the only cars built in the US that could compete with the Cobra were the Corvette ZO6 at $70,000 and the Viper at $90,000 plus. Any car built in Europe that would be equivalent would run from $150,000 to $300,000. I'll keep my Cobra but I'm not ruling out adding a 2015 ZO6 coupe in the future...."
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