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The Ford Cobra Engine

     I wanted to do a article on how I came to choose the Ford
4.6L Cobra Engine, and on how to convert a standard Ford 4.6L Engine to the 03-04 Cobra Specifications. This following
Flathead_Engine_complete1933.jpg DodgeRam2007121.jpg33FordPicturesA007.jpg     33FordPicturesA009.jpg
This is Project Flathead, and the two color pictures are of the Twin-Turbo Flathead I am builing, if this is something you are interrested in then tune in to Project Flathead and enjoy.  The Dirty little engine is the acual Flathead from our 33Ford.

script is my account of how I came to own and enjoy my own Ford
DOHC 32-Valve "Terminator" Engine.

     After a long wait, the time finally came for my father and I to start the long and arduous task of re-building out 1933 Ford Tudor Sedan. The car had been in our family since 1961, and I was the reason for it’s existence. My father had traded his ‘34 Dodge 2-Door Coupe in for this larger Sedan. You see when I came along, my father needed a larger car to fit everyone in, he traded his then running Coupe for a not running Sedan. My mother was furious, because they at least had a running car, and my father had fixed the coupe up very nicely, and they both enjoyed driving it. While my Dads intentions were notable, the real world caught up with them and the Tudor Sedan just hung around parked in a garage, waiting for the day someone would fix it. I can remember as early as 4 years of age, looking at the car and wondering about it. I never played on or in it, that was forbidden, but I do remember liking it and thinking it was cool. For almost 4-5 years the car was hidden from sight, parked in my Grand mother’s barn. I remember the day we rescued it and brought it home to stay in our old barn. My father pulled it home with a mother in the tow vehicle and me and my dad riding in the 1933 Ford, Dad steered and braked the car, while my mother towed it. I know we had several close calls, the brakes were awful and the steering very tight. It must have been somewhere around the spring of 1972-73, when we brought the old Sedan home. We moved to the farm in 1970, and decided to quit growing tobacco a year or two latter. Now since the old barn would be free to use year round, we deposited the ‘33 in a corner and left it there for 33 long hard years. I remember as a old child looking at the old car and wondering what it would be like to ride around in it under it’s own power, I several times rolled it out of the barn and cleaned the area where it sat, then rolled it back in. The interior was intact, but in bad condition, and the rear seat held the grill, and several engine and body pieces. The tires would hold air for several months, and I would often fill them just for fun. This car was as much a piece of my childhood as anything else I can remember. I know my dad never really talked much about the car, I suppose he was bitter because he never had the money to rebuild the car or do any work of any kind on it. I don’t blame him, he traded a great little runner in on a car that never ran, and one that he would never see running, or so he most likely thought.

     Times change and many years latter when I was older, my father gave the car to me, I suppose he knew he would never be able to restore the car and I don’t really know if he thought I would or not, probably not but his jester was appreciated. Fast forward many more years and we come to the year 2002, March 18 to be exact. While working with some construction equipment I get caught between the moving arm of a back-hoe and the immovable structure of the roll cage. The accident crushes my chest, damaging my neck, head, shoulders and severing my right thumb. Somehow I live, but would never be the same or work again. This is a crushing blow to my self image, I had always been a worker, and enjoyed my job very much. I had a side Welding business, that always kept me busy and interested, now nothing and nobody....this was a living hell for me. The injuries would be chronic, and last forever, along with the pain associated with them. I had two surgeries because of this accident, one on my cervical spine and the other on my thumb, which they did save. The neck would be another story, while they did all they could do, this will be a injury that will affect me for the rest of my life. An accident like this changes you, it changes your outlook on life and the things you hold dear to your heart. My wife was a trooper all the way through my ordeal, I can honestly say, that I would not be hear to write any of this without her loving help and guidance. She is the most empathic, gentle, loving woman I have ever known, and I can honestly tell you, meeting her on that August night of 1984 was the beginning to my new life. It was truly Love at first sight, yes I know the phrase sounds corny, I until that moment when I first saw her, didn’t believe in it myself, but that is exactly how it happened. I saw her from a distance and could only see the top portion of her, and new I had to meet this woman, the rest is as they say, history. I bring this up, because it was with her help and support that I began the restoration on the ‘33.

     Things change and my father and I build the garage/shop we always wanted, a 45' x 85' building with 12'-3" of space between the floor and bottom of the rafters. With this new shop comes new possibilities, and now we are finally in a position to start the complete rebuilding process on our 1933 Ford Tudor Sedan. June of 2006 marks the first time the Ford has been out of it’s stall in the barn for 20+ years. We move the car to the garage entrance where we clean it up before moving it inside to start work on it. First up we clean the inside out, there is 3-4" of dirt on the floor boards and the whole job is a very messy affair. After removing everything from the interior, and body is removed and sat on a special body cart we made. The frame is moved out side and we start working on the new frame November of 2006. But wait, there is a lot more that happened between June and November, that is where I decided on the power plant for this project.

     When I first started on this project, which we now call Project COBRA’33, I had no ideal what engine I would use. I knew I didn’t want a Chevrolet 350, it was obvious that power plant was way to popular to re-use in this car, I wanted something different. I sat down and made a short list of what I wanted, the list went something like this.

  • Modern, EFI equipped.
  • Unusual, I wanted something different from the crowd.
  • It had to be a V-8.
  • I wanted a powerful engine, something to move the Sedan quickly.
  • It had to be sound, know one wants a Hot Rod that breaks down.
  • I wanted something I could add to, so after-market parts were a must.
  • Realistic, I had to be able to afford it.

     With this list in mind, I sat out looking for my power plant, at first I was considering the Dodge Hemi. It fit the bill for many of my request, but it didn’t allow me to put a Ford engine in my Ford Car, something that became important to me as I searched around. I couldn’t believe the amount of cars with Chevrolet engine in them....It really grew old. Also, it was very hard to find a Ford vehicle with a Ford engine, and when you did it was either a Flat Head or a 5.0L. The Flat Head Engine is very dear to me, and if you look further on this site you will see were we take the original Ford Flathead from this car and use it in Project Flathead, but I didn’t want it in this car, this was to be the best of today meets the best of the 30's. 

   I wanted to keep the style of the 30's alive in this car, but I wanted an engine that represented the best of today, a modern V-8 with EFI.. I’m not sure how or when I first saw the Ford
4.6L DOHC 32-Valve Supercharged "Terminator" Engine, but when I did see it, I was hooked. Where had this Engine come from?? I had known about Ford Cobras, but I had no ideal they were equipped with a Eaton M112 Supercharger. In an instant, I had made-up my mine what I wanted, now to find one. From the start, It was immediately clear that these were not only powerful engines, but as rare as they come with regards to factory replacements. I dived deeper into the web, the book stores, the dealer parts, magazines, and forums on the subject. The more I found out about the engine the more I fell in love with it. It was pretty clear that this wasn’t your normal factory piece, this resembled a Racing Engine more then a Passenger Car Engine. The Blocks were 4-bolt, with side bolts. The Rods, Valves and Pistons were supplied by Manley, a aftermarket Racing Parts Business. The Crankshaft was a forged Steel piece built by Kellogg, another company that specialized in Race Engine Parts. The Heads were huge, and consisted of a Double Over Head Cam design, with a center located Spark Plug in a Semi-Hemispherical Chamber, very similar to the Dodge Hemi Engines. The Electronic Fuel Injection was the latest Ford offered with High Speed Processors, Sequential Multi Port Injection, and Coil On Plugs, Individual Cylinder Ignition Coils. This would definitely fill the bill for modern, it was state of the art and to top it all off, it was Supercharged.!! I had to have this engine...By the time I was well versed on the Engine and all it’s particulars, I was also a where just how rare these Engines were. But there was hope, Ford built only about 15,000 03-04 Cobras, and they also built a certain number more of these Engines for warranty claims. As it would be, because of the timing at which I was in need or this Engine, Ford was just starting to release these Engine they had in storage for warranty claims. I suppose they are like any large business, and don’t won’t to keep around large parts that take up much needed storage space. I’m not sure of the process, but they sold there stock to an outside businesses that then turned around and sold them to the public, on sites like E-bay. That is where I found my Engine, E-bay. I was actually thinking about buying a Ford Bullet Engine, which isn’t really anything like the Cobra Engine, but it is a very nice piece. I had been looking for a few months and had not found anything, so when this Engine came up I was thinking about it, it was listed for $3999.00, complete. Just as I’m debating this purchase, up pops a brand new "Terminator" Engine, complete and Brand New!! I immediately called the owner and bought it right there, and the kicker was it only cost me $8499.00, delivered!! The owner, a Engine re-seller firm, had three and the first two were already sold to some guys on a waiting list, they offered the third one to E-bay bidders, and I bought it. I was just lucky enough to be at the right place and at the right time, I’m sure it would not have lasted more then a couple of hours on there. After paying for it, and waiting five days, the freight truck showed up and delivered my Engine, what a day!! The most wonderful thing was my dad’s reaction. He didn’t know anything about the Cobra or it’s Engine, and when we un-packed that thing he was smiling from ear to ear. I don’t think he really expected our car to move along so fast, or that the Engine would have a Supercharger mounted to it. This really marked the start of the re-build, yes we had many parts come in before this, but this set the whole Tempo and Attitude for the new car, now we knew the car would be built, and we knew it would fly. 

2004Cobra.jpg     1999-2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-ford-mustang-16.jpg
Above:  This is exactly how the 03-04 Cobra Ford Engine looks when you purchase a Factory replacement Engine.  They are Beautifull!!  It is in the eye of the beholder, right?  As you can see they come very well equiped, and ready to simply drop in.  Some come with a 6-Speed manual transmission, but I think most re-sellers seperate them to make more money.  If you plan to use an Automatic like I did, then you will have to remove the pilot bearing and replace the 8-Bolt flywheel with a 8-Bolt Flex Plate or Drive Plate as some refeer to it.
I have been a avid E-bay'er every since this project started, there are many great deals to be had on this site, and we have bought many, many items that way. You also have to be careful, while I love the site, it is also a magnet for the un-scrupulous or con man. Some key items to always check is the following:

Never buy without a PayPal account

  • Always check the shipping cost
  • Be very careful if the seller is new, meaning 1-2 transactions logged
  • Know your product, check the wording, picture and add out completely.
  • Be very careful if the seller is new, meaning 1-2 transactions logged
  • Know your product, check the wording, picture and add out completely.
  • Be very careful if the seller is new, meaning 1-2 transactions logged
  • Know your product, check the wording, picture and add out completely.
  • Be very careful if the seller is new, meaning 1-2 transactions logged
  • Know your product, check the wording, picture and add out completely.


     E-Bay is a wonderful source for anything, but especially automotive parts. Here you can find items you never dreamed you would fine, rare old car trim, New but un-used Engine and Car parts, commonly refereed to as New Old Stock or NOS. I scan E-Bay daily and constantly on the look-out for rare engine parts and deals. I whole heartedly indorse them, but do advise you to use caution and a little common sense. If a deal sounds to good to be true, it is usually a rip-off, but because of the occasional great deal only E-Bay can offer, I would advise you to use caution and check things out throughly.

     Since owning my own personal "Terminator" Engine, I have invested highly in additional Performance Parts and Dress-up Items. As it stands (06-23-08) I have roughly $16,000.00 in this engine, and the ticker is still running. You of-coarse don’t have to follow in my foot-steps, but I am building a show-winning Hot Rod and they have to be heavily modified to get the attention they deserve. People come to car shows to see show cars, not cleaned-up stock or factory cars, or at lease I do. In fact I have gotten to know this great Engine so well, I decided to start building them and doing the head work on them. They are contagious to me, and I love the design and execution. After studying them for so long, I have found subtle ways to improve on the original design, ways to not only make them faster and more powerful, but also more durable and longer lasting. Ford did a great job, but you can always improve on a design, some more then others.

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