View Full Version : Order of mods????

02-10-2009, 10:35 PM
Hey all,

I'm sure a few have posted, but I haven't exactly found the info I want. My 96 Cobra is currently bone stock...and I mean bone stock! She has 158,000 miles on it, so I'm not really doing any motor mods until I can eventually rebuild the engine. No sense in trying to hype up the motor and blow it up due to high mileage. :eek:

However, with some money coming back from taxes, I'm thinkin' of doing some mods to it, but not sure which will give me the best bang for the buck at this time. I was thinkin' of the following mods, but not sure which should "take precedence" over the other.

Install Flowmaster cat-back exhaust
Install a CAI system (one that lets me keep the tower brace on)
Install a throttle body spacer (like a air vortex type thing)
Install 4.10 gears (brand???)

As for the Flowmaster exhaust, I'm trying to figure out which is better, the American Thunder or the Force II setup. I drive the car every day and really don't want something super loud and annoying. (there is a Camaro in my complex that is like that and annoying as heck when you hear him start it and drive off) I can honestly say I'm a little too old to be having something so deafening when you're driving at normal speeds. However, I don't want to put something on that sounds as low as the stock exhaust now either...I want a bit more than that; especially when I get on it. Any one have experience with both the American Thunder (2 chamber, I believe) and Force II (3 chamber) setups? I haven't found any sound clips anywhere of both systems. That would be superb if I could find that.

As for the CAI system...any one better than the others? I would really rather keep the tower brace on the car, so I'm looking at ones that allow that to happen. K&N a good choice? Always ran their filters in my race bikes and former cars (Chevys).

Same with the 4.10 gears. I know a lot of people here go with Ford Racing products...any particular reason or just because of preference? They just seem super expensive to me for a ring and pinion set. Plus, I'll probably have to buy the bearing/install set too and then take it somewhere to have it done. :-( Just seems WAY more expensive putting gears in a Mustang vs my old Camaros (sorry, that's the only reference I have to go by).

I'm really trying to get the most bang for my buck at this point. I already have to redo the brakes (maybe even replace a rotor or two if they can't be turned) and replace the clutch. :( So, whatever is left is for fun mods on the car. :thumbsup:

I figured the rear gears would be the best bang for the buck, but one of my managers at work, that was into Mustangs, suggested the CAI, throttle body spacer and cat-back exhaust first.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated... :thumbsup:

02-10-2009, 10:40 PM
Ford Racing 4:10 gears and install kit. You won't go wrong with that even if it cost more.

JLT Cold Air Kit www.jlttruecoldair.com Check with Jay to make sure he can offer you a kit that will work with your stock export brace.

Exhaust depends on the sound you like but Flowmaster is a good brand.

Underdrive Pullies - I would recommend Steeda since they have a balancer and all and not a bolt on pulley.

Tune - once you do the cold air and the exhaust, get the car tuned to get 300 rwhp plus.

Enjoy your new snake!! :thumbsup:

02-10-2009, 11:02 PM
Thanks a bunch for the info. :thumbsup: I thought of gears first too. LOL The car definitely needs more punch off the bottom. It's pretty sad when I can be in 4th driving on the street and have to downshift all the way to 2nd and punch it to possibly pass someone! LOL :eek:

Only one thing I'm afraid of with underdrive pulleys....doesn't that lower the speed/output of your water pump and alternator? I live in Las Vegas and it gets pretty darn hot here. I'm afraid with underdrive pulleys that the car might run hot in the summer (115+ temps all day). Or that maybe it won't charge the alternator enough on small trips (to and from work - only 10 miles each way). Is that a possible concern or am I nuts? If it really won't be an issue, then I'll definitely put them on.

I've always loved the sound of Flowmasters, so that's why I thought of them first...I just don't want it too loud. I figure the sound will be pretty much the same between either the 2 or 3 chamber ones, but it's the actual loudness of them is what I'm concerned with.

02-10-2009, 11:49 PM
1996 Cobras already had a cooling problem from day one. There was even a TSB for the cooling issue. With that said, I recommend getting an after market radiator to avoid that issue. Next would be the pullies don't affect the cooling that much as the pulley itself is almost the same size as the alternator pulley itself. I had a set of pullies on my 99 and never changed the alternator pulley out and never had a problem.

I also forgot to mention to get an MGW shifter when you get those gears installed. :thumbsup:

RF Cobra
02-11-2009, 12:03 AM
JLT doesn't currently have anything that will work on your car with the strut tower brace. If Jay comes out with a carbon fiber one for yours it would work since it is oval shaped at that end.

Not familiar with any of those exhausts. I just put a Bassani x-pipe with high flow cats on mine to go with the Borla Stinger cat back but that's probablly louder than what you want. My next door neighbor tells me he smiles everytime he is sitting in his house and hears my car start up. :)

Sounds like you are getting ready to have some fun with your Cobra.

02-13-2009, 12:15 AM
Ya, unfortunately it looks like the brakes and the clutch is going to eat up a lot of my "fun" money for the car. :(

But I do believe I'll at least be able to do the gears. If I could do the gear work myself (doing the clutch & brakes myself) I would. However, I don't have any type of press for the bearings and all that type of stuff to set the gears properly. I don't want to take that chance. Otherwise, I could save a few hundred just on install.

Actually it's funny...I know how everyone is mentioning getting the short throw shifter and when I first got the Cobra, I thought one was already in it! LOL The throw is SOOOO much shorter than the Camaros I used to race/build, so I was (and still am, actually) happy with the shifter that's in the Cobra. :D But I'm sure at some point I'll put in a short throw. :thumbsup:

So, for now, I think I'm stuck only getting brakes, clutch and 4.10s. I just wish I could adjust my clutch. It feels to me that it's out of adjustment and that's why it seems that the release is kind of high on the pedal (at least from what I'm used to) and it will grind 5th (no other gears) when it's cold or if I shift into it above 2000 rpm when it's cold or just warming up. That's why I'm replacing the clutch. I'll be pissed if I take it apart and find out that it's still got a lot of clutch left. LOL

I didn't think JLT had one that worked with the tower brace. When I first got onto the site I looked into them because I saw them on the board here, so I'll have to look into someone else I guess.

As for the exhaust, I heard a lot of good things about the Bassani here, but I just can't afford that. I think the x-pipe alone is like $500 or something from what I remember. That doesn't even count the rest of the cats and exhaust. :( Unfortunately for now I have to do everything on a shoe string budget until the job I'm going for comes in. If that works out, then it's a different story. LOL

I don't mind the exhaust being loud within reason. I do smile a tad when I hear his Camaro start, but his sounds like a raspy exhaust and I don't like that sound, so that's what has put me off. I've always liked the sound of Flowmasters on other Mustangs that my friend has had (he was the Ford guy, I was the Chevy guy back then), so that was why it was my first choice.

Oh, as for the radiator situation, actually mine did really well last year. I bought it in June, right when it started getting hot here and it was fine all summer long in the 110+ sun. The gauge probably read about the middle of it or so when I sat at a really long light or in traffic. I didn't consider that too bad actually. Well, I might have to wait on the under drive pulleys for now anyway...

I definitely need to do something fun with it. The poor thing has been stock all it's life...not one mod done to the car that I can see. The poor thing is due! LOL

RF Cobra
02-13-2009, 01:06 AM
If I remember correctly when my father-in-law changed the gear on his '97 he found a whole center with the gear he wanted and swapped it out that way since it was chepaer than the labor would have been to swap the gear out of his. I don't know how much luck you would have finding 4.10s that way though. His was a 3.73 swap. When I swapped gears on the T'bird, I paid someone else to do it and it was not cheap. So I'm happy with my 3.55.

I got the Bassani on sale for right at $500 (including shipping) from AutoAnything (SCMC vendor). They are always running sales and have a 1 year low price guarantee. I got an even better deal on the Borla cat back when I bought it. It was on sale for about half price when I bought it.

I bought mine in '04 and it took me over 4 years to start doing things to it so don't feel to bad about it. I'm sure you will be able to do everything you want all in good time. :)

02-13-2009, 02:36 AM
It's just a standard 8.8" traction-lok rear end on the Cobra, right?

So any 8.8" traction-lok with 4.10 gears would work?

But the bad part is, I'd still have to put the pinion in...that's where I had a problem with my Camaro because I had no way to actually tighten down the pinion nut and it was a total mess. :(

I'm trying to check at work because some of the guys there have connections with certain shops because they did a ton of work for us. if I can work it out as a discount for work, then it might not be too bad. I have to call tomorrow to find out.

I found the gear set (Ford Racing) on Summit for $199.99 plus shipping. I don't know how great of a deal that is or not. However, I'm guessing I'll have to get the install kit too (bearings, gaskets and all that) and that seems to be like another $85.00 I think. :-( So, I'm already up to $300. I'm hoping to keep the install price to $200 if at all possible.

I just never remember the prices of stuff like this being this high. LOL :eek:

but I do appreciate the idea of buying the entire carrier with the gears on it. Not a bad idea...I still might search around.

02-13-2009, 03:12 AM
Another question for all of you...

I know that the Cobra differs from the Mustang GT engine wise because it has the DOHC setup vs. the SOHC setup on the GT.

However, are there any differences like with the exhaust or something of that nature?

Reason I ask is I've seen pricing on exhaust systems and just because someone writes Cobra on it, they jack up the price of it. But if it's the same as the Mustang GT setup, then I might as well go with that. A lot of them I've seen listed as: '94-'97 Ford Mustang, GT / Cobra, 4.6L / 5.0L I just want to make sure they aren't full of crap either. LOL

I just wanted to make sure there are no special "bends" to the exhaust or something with the Cobra.

I'm guessing some other parts are interchangeable with the Mustang GT as well, but I have no clue what they are. :( Dang it's a biotch trying to learn a new manufacturer/car on what is interchangeable and what isn't. LOL :rotf:

02-13-2009, 06:05 AM
I would recommend getting some sub-frame connectors welded in. That was the first mod that I had done with my car. It had 40k on it when I had it done and noticed a stiffer chassis then.
Aftermarket shifter.
When I bought my car it was already equipped with Flowmaster 2 chambers. Even with my Bassani X pipe with cats, the sound is not too loud inside the cabin. Being 43 years old, the days of super loud cabin noise are way behind me. Also, I have heard from other owners that 2 chambers sound terrible with x pipes without cats, so much so that these guys would promptly take off the mufflers and replace 'em with a better sounding set.

02-13-2009, 08:47 AM
Here, I just saved you $50.00 and don't forget to ask for the club discount.


02-13-2009, 01:48 PM
thats a good deal Tony.

heres one that i found...I like American Muscle b/c of the free shipping and decent prices.


02-17-2009, 09:00 AM
Install Flowmaster cat-back exhaust
Install a CAI system (one that lets me keep the tower brace on)
Install a throttle body spacer (like a air vortex type thing)
Install 4.10 gears (brand???)Here's what I would do from your list (with small changes) and the order of doing the mods.

Install 4.10 gears (FMS only). - This will give you the biggest seat of the pants feel of everything you've listed. Will definitely give you the biggest smile :)

Install off-road H-pipe - (forget a cat-back, no gains from that). The stock mufflers with a BBK off-road H-pipe will be louder and more "muscle" sounding than stock...but not too loud...and will give you some more HP and TQ which changing out the mufflers/cat-back won't do at all.

Under drive Pulleys - Forget the CAI, definitely forget/toss the throttle body spacer idea. Go with underdrive pulleys as they'll run you about the same as a good CAI but will definitely add more power to your car.

You won't really need a tune after that....and you'll be very hard pressed to hit 300rwhp with bolt-ons in a '96 cobra. A tune would help obviously....but you'd have to decide if the dyno-time plus chip/tune price would be worth a few HP/TQ at that point.

That would be a great starting point....would make the car feel much more responsive and quicker and just all around more fun (punchier, louder more muscle sounding and quicker pulling through the gears/rpm).

02-22-2009, 07:18 PM
Thanks a bunch for the links and everyone's input. I truly appreciate it!

I'm already working on the gear set and got a deal through work of having them put in, so hopefully that should be a done deal. :-D

However, I've been hearing a squealing noise (like metal rubbing together with no lubrication) over the past week. It keeps going even after I turn the engine off but then slows to a stop (you can actually hear it slow to a stop). So, it was something turning after the engine was off. I thought it was the blower motor to the heater because it seemed to happen when I turned the heater on (but kept sounding even after I turned the heater off).

Well, Friday after I got home, I noticed the car running a bit warmer than usual and then saw smoke from under the hood. Not good. Opened the hood and it looked like it was coming from the radiator, but smelled "electrical". Didn't smell sweet like anti-freeze. Plus, there was no leaking on the ground and it didn't look like steam...but smoke.

Well, I believe the electric fan for the radiator seized up. :-( If I tried to turn it with my finger it has "hard spots" in it and was REALLY difficult to turn with my fingers (of course without the engine running and the power supply pulled from the fan itself). Then I tried and hooked up the black and red wires directly to power and nothing. It sparks and that's it.

I think it's toast. :-( So, looks like some of my "fun mod money" is now going to buy a new electric fan. <pouts>

But thanks again for all the info!