The Smoking Tire One-Takes a 2003 Mustang Cobra Terminator
How good is a 15-year-old Cobra Terminator with almost 400 stock horsepower? Pretty dang good.
In the mid-2000s, Ford stood high as victor of the contemporary Pony Car Horsepower Wars. General Motors had discontinued the F-Body twins after 2002. And Dodge, at that point, was a half-decade away from hoisting its Challenger. It was some surprise, then, when Ford offered the Mustang Cobra Terminator for the 2003 model year. With no other domestic cars in the segment, Ford didn’t need to build the Terminator, but build it they did. As Matt Farah discovers in this The Smoking Tire “One Take,” the ultimate New Edge Mustang still remains a solid measuring stick for any powerful pony car.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar, Ford gave the Terminator a 4.6-liter, cast-iron version of the 32-valve Ford Modular V8. Then they added an Eaton supercharger that gave the Terminator an astounding 390 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. That’s around 40 more hp than a contemporary base-model Corvette. And you could drive a Terminator home for $10,000 less than Chevy’s only sports car offering at the time. Sure, the Corvette was lighter and more refined, but the Terminator was a comparative performance bargain!
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In the episode above, Farah drives a Terminator belonging to Peter, whose 18th birthday was actually the day the vid was filmed. Somehow Peter talked his parents into letting his first car be a 390-horsepower monster. It eats up straight sections of road, while the independent rear suspension gets its work done neatly on the bumpy canyon switchbacks.
With the cat-back exhaust and a few other small mods, it’s a hell of a first car, even if it’s not the most ergonomic for tall drivers. And the fit-and-finish rivals that of most dump trucks. And.. who cares? The Terminator wasn’t made for refinement; it served its goal, and set Ford atop the lonely 2003 horsepower mountain.
Check out more of Peter’s 2003 Terminator on his WheelWhell page. Then let us know what you think!