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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

I still haven't ordered my kit yet but the time is near, maybe a year or less out. Assuming I will be purchasing a MK III I have a few questions. Please let me know if this has been covered and I missed it. I know similar questions have been asked but I only frequent this and the OT forum.

My initial plan was to do all non-donor carb'd and stroked 393 or similar. I have been wondering if it might be smarter or more economical to find a wrecked late model Cobra or similar instead...sort of like Super Cobra :D

My main questions/wonders are:

1. I want IRS, am I asking for trouble if I go the donor cobra route? I'm a handy guy but don't want to complicate things too much for my first build of this type.

2. I want about 400RWHP, a cobra with supercharger seems about right for this but I'm really a fan of going with the carb'd stroker. Depending on the $$ spent on the donor would it be reasonable to think I could just sell the donor engine and drop a 393 with something like the I squared wiring? Any gotchas? Will the tranny mate up?

3. Any other gotchas associated with going with a late model Cobra donor? I'm not totally against the 4.6 and would consider it but I'm "afraid" of commiting to the large physical size of the motor and being able to work on it since I don't know the technology well.

Thanks guys, sorry if any of these questions are old ones. I'll gladly review any threads you can point me to and I'll be expanding my reading to the 4.6 forum as well.

Darren (I'm gonna get one, really...)
 

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I'd go w/a pallet of donor parts, but designate what parts you want. I went w/Cypress and they did a great job, I just changed my mind as to what I would use from the donor. Spent a bunch of money unnecessarily
 

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I'm going with a non-donor build, but certainly it is far less cost effective.

My concern was not knowing what kind of issues I was getting into with a donor. The cleanup, the rebuild, not to mention the potential of structural issues under the surface, only to come back and bite me later.

I can't fault anybody for going either way because both have their benefits. I would simply ask yourself these questions:

1.)
 

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Oops... I biffed that one.

I'll finish.

1.) How much of a Build Cost?
2.) How long of a Build duration?
3.) Ability to Choose each component system?
4.) Concern over history and wear of components?

I'm sure there are others, but these are what led me to go non-donor.
 

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My decission to go non donor are similar to Shavey's, I weighed the cost of going donor and non donor, and if you figure in the time to tear down the donor and then clean up or refreshing as some put it, plus the replacement of worn parts, it just seemed logical to go non donor. As for wanting all that horse power, I had my engine built by T&L Engines out of Charlotte, NC and it dyno'd at 443hp and 440 ft pnds torque. all that in a 2200 pound car is an awful lot. If the non donor build was a consideration, then go with that, you won't be disapointed, it makes working on you car so much nicer when you don't have to clean each and every part before you install it. Good luck with your choice.
Lile
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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I did the donor 5.0 big mistake. In the end it is costing me more money to do the same thing twice. You never know what your getting when buying used. I have had issues with almost everything from the donor. The only thing left from it now are the spindles engine and body harness, everything else was replaced. If I was to do it all over again I would buy new. Shop around there are tons of great deals if you look for them. I just blew a head gasket on my 5.0 yesterday at the dyno. I am going to pull the valve cover off this weekend. I would bet my house the head bolts will be loose. THe intake bolts were VER VERY loose. You never know what your getting when buying used.

I also did not want to do a 4.6, don't know much about working on them. Hope this helps.

John
 

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I disagree. I used donors for both of my builds. I think there is confusion about what the definition of a donor is and what to expect mechanically from a donor.

If you have mechanical skills to rebuild the engine, trans, rearend,etc. a donor makes sense. If you pay $1200 for a donor and don't use the engine, you are still money ahead. By the time you buy the suspension parts, gas tank, pedals, driveline, etc you will spend more non donor even if the engine and trans are replaced. The mistake is to pay too much for a donor hoping that everything is cherry. Mustang owners tend to be younger and run them hard.

If you are going with a crate engine with a carb and an IRS rearend then a donor is not such a hot deal unless the transmission and clutch are in great shape, again at a donor price in the $1200 to $1500 range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Originally posted by thedynodon:
Darren,

It is all about $$$. How much do you think that you can spend?

DD
I'm trying to keep it at $25k, I'll be painting it myself to reduce costs and because I'm decent with a spray gun and sand paper :D . I can go over budget but I set this one as a goal.

I was considering a newer cobra donor because of less wear and tear and if I could use everything from it it could be a good $$ decision. Otherwise I'll just go non-donor. I know very little about what would work out of a newer cobra.

The following is very relevant to making the decision:

1. I want IRS
2. I want 4 wheel disc 5 lug

[ February 22, 2007, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: Dagster ]
 

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I went with a '89 donor because I am always looking to save some bucks. That I knew about myself. What I didn't know is that I also wanted a car than was reliable and pretty as new. With more power! I changed to 5 lugs and rear disks, got new wiring, new wheels and am rebuilding the engine with more power (torque actually). My car has some of the donor parts (all cleaned and polished) but it is mostly new.

The only way I would have saved money with a donor was to get one in almost perfect shape with a very good tranny and 5 lug rear-end.

I understood too late what I really wanted so the donor method probably wasn't the best way for me. (Although it was easier to convince my wife that the Cobra was a good thing once the ugly donor was in the driveway)

But I love my COBRA!
 

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I went through this decision process some time ago. Ah, memories. Take your time and work through this completely. It might change a few times after you get the car, but the more consistent you are on final build approach the more money and time you'll save in the long run.

DONOR / NON-DONOR:

A couple of easy questions to answer and prioritize:

A) How much money do you want to spend?

B) How important is it to you to have "new" parts vs. used on your car?

C) How important to have 4 lug vs. 5 lug; disk brakes in rear? Do you want real knock-off wheels, 17" Team IIIs, new Mustang style, deep dish style using pin-drive width...

D) How important to have IRS vs. live axle?

E) How important is the "show" look and coolness factor to you in the build? Do you want all new Cobra disk brakes, special this and special that?

F) Carb or EFI?

G) Which motor; 5.0, 4.6, 351, big block - motor preference will impact a lot of other options and planning routes.

Answer these and you'll start narrowing down the available donor options and get closer to a donor / non-donor point - or possible mix percentage. For example, you cant have the big Cobra disk brakes and rotors all around if your going to want 15" original style knock-off wheels - you have to run 17" wheels. If you do pin-drive width to get a deep dish look, you need special backspacing on the wheels - not standard Mustang wheels. Want IRS and a lot of new parts - then your better off getting a specialized donor pallet then a whole donor car your not going to fully use.

Going non-donor automatically puts you up a lot higher in the spend area. You can do a mix of donor and non-donor too. It's best if you start pricing out all the parts you need and determine your budget. Then plan on going about 20% over budget from new ideas and stuff you find on this forum. Research Breeze Automotive for non-donor Ezepaks, call around to Mustang grave yards (MPS, AMP…) and get pricing on donor or pallets, check out DiskBrakesRUs for pricing on brakes, spindles, IRS… Fortes for engine and trans, Engine Factory for engine and trans… work through all of the supporting vendors here, look at what they offer, how much it costs, and what are the must haves for your build.

ENGINE:

I really wanted the '03 Cobra SC motor. Problem - wiring harness not available and the automatic theft deterrent in the computer needs to be re-set. At the time, I could buy the motor new from Ford, but not the harness / computer. MPS or AMP can get you a donor though and now other companies are starting to offer aftermarket support. Bottom line - when I was looking only Sergio was trying to work through the issues. He did it, but I didn't want the hassle of getting stuck in the build waiting for a part to be developed or someone to figure out how to work around the other issues. It really limited who I could go to, on the forum and locally, to get help and answers. For me, it looked like a lot of complexity for a first time build.

I went with the Engine Factory 351w 393stroker - over 450hp, 480tq, a Tremec TKO 600 with a mid-shift. I went to an FFR event where there were a bunch of owner Cobras to look at and hear. After hearing a few of the bigger motor Cobras go by, I just couldn't do a stock 302 motor. I have ridden in a stock powered 302 Cobra - it's fast. Don’t get over concerned about HP - it's not as important as it is in a Mustang. The cars are so light you reach a point of diminishing return very quickly - the difference between spinning the tires in third gear with a 350hp motor vs. a 450hp motor really isn't that different.

5.0 - available - new and donor, plenty of aftermarket parts to take it where ever you want to go. Standard T-5 trans will work fine. Typically EFI - nice modern engine, reliable, fast.

4.6 - available - some aftermarket; depending on year. Different trans; T-45 I believe… I don’t know if I would bother with a normal 4.6…especially a 96 to 98 year

4.6 Cobra - available, getting better support, very fast. Double roller or SC - fast, EFI, reliable. Many different trans options; including T56 6 speed. Big coolness factor for non-traditionalists.

351 - available, stout, traditional. Uses a TKO 500 or TKO 600; you can hook up a T5 too (better life expectancy in a 2500 lb Cobra then a Mustang with the T5 option). Simple, reliable, fast, traditional.

351 stroker - an economical big block. Fast, loud, reliable - carb or efi - usually carb. Simple speed. Good balance point between a supercharged 302 and a big block.

Big Block - um, yeah - it’s a big block. Big HP, Big TQ, typically big $$$$ at purchase and long term (read 5mpg).


SUPERCHARGER

Added complexity, cost, and up keep. I love them, have a Vortech on the Mustang for over 10 years. But don’t think that it's like putting in a K&N filter….

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

IRS or live axle? IRS is not that difficult to install; pretty straight forward. Better potential road manners. But, it's not going to be as cheap as a live axle. If your going for a "higher end" build or a Superformance type competitor - IRS. Easy to go pin-drive width.

Live axle - 4 or 5 lug? This will impact donor years and other setup options. Easier to find, plenty of gears, diffs, and other drag and autocross components available. A very good overall option. More complexity in going pin-drive width, but very doable.

Is disk and drum okay for you or do you want disk all around? Most end up going to 5 lug and four wheel disk at some point - why not at least start there? Bigger question - the FFR manual brake approach or power brakes? Hydraboost power brakes and power steering is becoming more popular (works with virtually any motor config listed above - it runs off a powersteering pump - I have an '04 hydraboost on my 351w stroker using a '93 Mustang PS pump). I did it and love it! A lot still prefer the manual steering and brakes. That just wasn't for me though; I've driven enough manual everything cars - had enough.

Spend time with Breeze, Forte, NorthRaceCar, and DiskBrakesRUs researching and pricing the brakes, IRS, and live axles. Power steering and brakes is matter of preference. There is not that much added complexity (very little actually) - it's easier to add these now rather then after the car is all together.

PAINT & BODY WORK

Figure out the budget and approach now. If your going to do it yourself - great. You'll save some cash and be proud. Going to send it to SRP or NC Painter - plan on between $5k and $10k. The more show you want, the more your going to pay.

OPTIONS

Don’t forget the FFR options and vendor options. These add up REAL QUICK. Wind wings, visors, chrome roll bar, tops, vents, heater, seat heaters, leather, wipers - and all the other little stuff - see the forum member web pages. You can find another grand or so there - easy.

BUILD TYPE

If you can start to settle in on a build type you like and want, that will help you make some decisions also. For example, if you want a pretty traditional build - carb, one roll bar, and what ever else means traditional to you. If you want to a neo-classic, resto-mod, or modern…

For me, traditional meant carb motor, IRS, one roll bar, leather interior, low back seats, no "visible" modern features (the hydraboost, heater, seat heater… are all hidden on my car) - no radio, no new style Mustang or hot rod wheels…. Getting settled into this made a lot of decisions for me easier.

CLOSING

Finally….

Spend hours and hours on this forum. Do searches on every topic you have a question about.

One last pearl of wisdom - don’t buy all the pieces parts and options up front. Buy as you go and need them. I bought everything that I thought I would need to finish the car up front. I stored a lot of stuff for a long time, paid more for stuff that later went on sale, bought some things that I later found didn’t work out, better options were avaialble later, and some things I just decided I didn’t like after 6 months.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Originally posted by Richard Oben:
$25K non donor, move away from the crack pipe. I bet you have 25k in it without the kit. HTH, Cheers Richard.
From what I've read it isn't so far fetched. Been reading here for years.
 

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I went donor but as Jester mentioned you have to be realistic about whats going to be needed to use the donor parts. Going donor you must figure on rebuilding the engine,tranns,and rear end. Most don't want to use old used high milage parts in their new car. You must be able to do all or the majority of the rebuilding and labor yourself,otherwise it's not really a cost saving in the long run. A newer late model 4.6 donor could be a different story as those can be found with low enough milage to use without the needed rebuilding of the high milage 5.0 donors. Course they are a more involed build and not usually carbed. Again it comes down to how much work can be done by yourself. How much money you have to spend. What the finished car will be as far as options used and extra bling bought along the way. Realisticlly I think if going donor and really bringing all the parts back to new,including the body and paint done by yourself figure on a min of about 28-30 at least.
400rwhp can be had from a 5.0 but will take a lot more then getting that from a 5.8. If not useing a 5.0 you just limited what you can use from a donor,not much.
What is your projected budget?
 

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Originally posted by Dagster:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Richard Oben:
$25K non donor, move away from the crack pipe. I bet you have 25k in it without the kit. HTH, Cheers Richard.
From what I've read it isn't so far fetched. Been reading here for years. </font>[/QUOTE]It is possible ! altought it is getting harder and harder to find a cheap 03 Cobra donor.

I have about 25K in mine as is right now (and that's counting Gordon Levy's Konis and VPM's sway bars !
kit: $16K + $1K shipping + $7.4K 03 Cobra donor = $24.4K - $3.5K 03 cobra stuff sold on ebay = $20.9K
(plus the Konis and VPM bars comes to around $25K right now).
stock 03 Cobra drivetrain is AMAZING !
435RWHP (505FWHP), 6 speed tranny and IRS comes included in the Donor! Video at the Dyno

and I haven't done anything to the engine, it will stay like that for quite a while !

so, 03 Cobra donor (new Parts) + FFR MKIII kit = SuperCobra
(but it is harder to do now since most guys out there know what an 03 Cobra is. When I bought my wrecked 03 Cobra was Oct 03, brand new car, no-one knew what an 03 Cobra was. now everybody knows what they are and what they can do, so finding Cheap 03 Cobra donors is next to impossible.


also, Jack be quick has it covered pretty well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Lots of good advice guys... Thanks and keep it coming.

Sergio, were you able to use everything from the 03 cobra for the build and not need additional parts or where there certain things you couldn't utilize. I read your IRS adventure.
 

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Dagster,
I'm With Richard O. I think that to get on the road for $25K you will have to take every option to save money. Do a spreadsheet of nondonor cost and include everything and that should convince you. The way I read it your kit should cost about $16K the engine at about $8K, your are already at $24K and you are no where close to the end of the spending.
DD
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Originally posted by thedynodon:
Dagster,
I'm With Richard O. I think that to get on the road for $25K you will have to take every option to save money. Do a spreadsheet of nondonor cost and include everything and that should convince you. The way I read it your kit should cost about $16K the engine at about $8K, your are already at $24K and you are no where close to the end of the spending.
DD
That's why I was considering the 03-ish cobra donor as an idea. If I could pick one up for a reasonable price that is.
 

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iBuild
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Dragster, my take on it is that if your not going to use the drive train from the donor, then don't go with a donor. I don't belive you would be able to mount a trans out of a late model cobra with a the 393 the mod motors and the Windsor family are just different beasts. You would end up using the spindles and the IRS components, but you could probably buy them from a salvage yard with a lot less work. Just my thoughts.

_Scott
 

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Dagster,

as you probably read in my "adventure", I was able to use MOST of the 03 Cobra donor parts.

Here's a list of Items that I needed that did not come with the donor:

1 - TBird Spindles for the rear
2 - aftermarket Mid-shafts (now we know that you can use the ones provided by FFR, but at the power levels the 03 Cobra makes you probably will break them).
3 - Aftermarket Quadrant and clutch adjuster (makes life easier)
4 - Driveshaft is aluminum in the 03 Cobras, I decided to make it in steel but keeping the same diameter as the 03 Cobra (bigger).
5 - Fuel lines. I used Russell's braided lines, not feasible to modify the donor's Stainless Steel ones
6 - you will need to make either spacers to raise the engine due to interferences with the FFR Frame, or notch the frame. (03 Cobra engine is bigger and longer due to the Blower and its accessories and extra belt system)(others have chosen to notch the frame, but that brings into focus other problems).
7 - You will need to fabricate a handful of brackets to mount the Aftercooler, aka Heat Exchanger, the Supercharger's coolant pump and other items.
8 - Alternator is in the wrong spot, making it very dificult to route the steering shaft (but very possible as I have proven).
9 - I decided to keep the STOCK oil pan and raise my Cobra instead of putting on the FFR Supplied Oil pan, mainly because I wanted to change it later, good thing I kept it, lots of Mod FFR builders are having problems with the aftermarket oil pan due to being too shallow, producing (mainly at the racetrack) oil starvation, so keep that in mind, I decided to raise it also because my MKI was too low to the ground and would scrape just about everything.
10 - The IAC will probably hit the hood, I decided to put a "Gurney Bubble" on the hood to clear it, but others (PhysicsGeek) have put the IAC behind of the engine by the EGR valve (delete it) and that seems to work too.

and for your information it is possible to mate a T56 6 speed up to any SBF Windsor engine, it's been done already (Markus here in San Diego did it).

If you can find a suitable and "cheap" 03/04 Cobra donor would be nice. keep in mind that these donors are new and you won't even get dirty taking them apart.

Good Luck on whatever you decide !

Sergio
 
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