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KENNY WAGNER'S1980 Ford MustangCobra

Kenny Wagner's 1980 Ford Mustang Cobra
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1980 Ford Mustang




Horsepower310 HP
Torque340 LB-FT
Curb Weight2800 LB
Engine Size5.0 L
Transmission Type5MT
MPG (City/Highway)9.5 MPG

The Story

1. Tell us the story behind your ride. What made you pick this particular one? Where did you find it? I found this car on craigslist in the Fall of 2010 in Hopkins, MN. It was my freshman year of high school and I was looking for a project car my dad and I could work on while I waited anxiously for my license. I picked it out of the sea of cars on craigslist, the color was wild, the stripes were cool, and it was the exact same body style as my Dad's 1982 Mustang GT that he bought brand new, and I grew up in the passenger seat. 2. Describe the modifications you have made. Where did you start, what’s the most recent mod and what motivated it? Well to start, we had quite a rough car. The paint was faded, the interior was nasty, and the engine was a nasty mess. We focused out efforts on the tired paint first, then moved to the interior, and finally the engine. We did most of the body work ourselves (I'll never sand a car again in my life) and then had a local body shop do the final bodywork and paint. The stripes and Cobra hood graphic were custom-printed in New Zealand by a guy with a car identical to mine in color. The paint and stripe colors are as close to factory as possible, save for the black accents in the stripe which were added to help the graphics contrast with the car. The interior was all refinished in factory-color dye to refresh the panels, and the Zebra-pattern Recaro seats were made from Unobtanium-Level NOS Fabric. After the exterior and interior were finished, we refreshed the 302 V8 that came with the car with an Edelbrock Cam and intake, and new accessories. We swapped the brakes and axles to convert to newer mustang 5-lug lug pattern and wheels, and thru a set of springs and Koni adjustable dampers in for good measure. My most recent mod to the car was a new set of Falken RT615K tires, installed on a set of 2003 10th Anniversary SVT Cobra wheels that were professionally refinished. The wheels and tires that were on the car were growing old, especially the tires, which were some 10 year old Kumho All-Seasons that just ruined the handling of the car. The new Falkens are GREAT! Tons of grip and much better ride quality. Now I need more suspension and brake to match them! 3. Of all the mods you’ve made, which do you think offers the biggest bang for the buck? Biggest bang for the buck, probably the new tires. They were around $700 for a set, but for that you get a great 200-treadwear summer tire, and it's not an R-compound autocross tire, so the tread life and highway noise is much better than some other tires. Plus you get full utilization of the suspension and brake modifications that you've made. 4. How did you go about selecting the specific parts for this build? Any installation tips to share? Research, Research, Research. My best advice is to really look into what you're changing to the car and how it will help you achieve your goals. I'm an engineering student by day, so I like having all the information I can obtain before making a purchase. Some people call it indecision, but in the end sometimes spending more money on a better part will have you come out ahead at the end of the day. Really understanding how a part affects that sector of your car is the best way to make sure your modifications push you closer to your goals. 5. What’s been the biggest challenge with this build? My biggest challenge for this build is the cost of the components I want to end up on my car. I tend to favor expensive, well-engineered parts in my build plans, and it keeps me from pulling the trigger on buying parts that I know I need immediately, but won't be using in the final build of the car. I have a lot of plans for custom components and I know they wont be cheap 6. What are you planning next? Without spending 5 hours explaining every aspect of my build, what I'd basically like to end up with is a '17 Shelby GT350R wrapped up in the body of my '80 Cobra, with touches of 80s Racing heritage. The major changes will be: 5.2L "Voodoo" V8 Modified for higher RPM than stock (9500 RPM goal redline), topped by a InnoV8 Racing ITB manifold, Tremec T56 6-speed manual with a hydraulic clutch conversion, Cobra Mustang IRS Conversion, Short-Long-Arm (SLA) Front suspension conversion, JRi Bluetooth-Adjustable coilovers (controlled via tablet inside the cabin), 305 series tires wrapped around a set of HRE 501 Mesh-style wheels (For that 80's BBS racing wheel vibe), Custom carbon-fiber body panels (Hood, Front clip, hatch, doors, fenders with flares, and roof.), Wilwood big brake kit, and a custom Borla-muffled exhaust system. But for now, my next focuses are new control arms front and rear, an LSD Diff with rear disc brakes, and a new cat-back exhaust. *Regular Car Bio: Bought this car September 2010 of my Freshman year of high school, restored it with my dad and finished it by my 16th birthday, won a car show that day, received my license the next.  Since then it's been performance modifications.  In May of 2016 I found oil in the cylinders of the tried 302 that came with the car, so I built a fresh roller 5.0 engine with the same top end as the old setup, but now with a Trick Flow Stage 2 cam, and roller lifters. The car is my "Old School" vehicle, and it holds many memories, both good and bad. The build is directed toward a corner-carving lightweight muscle car that can embarrass newer sports cars.

Comments (7)
19 here now

[]Jeff Linton

80's style graphics are Awesome

[]Tyler Ford

Love the stang, just started my project

[]Mitchell Apex hunter

Very nice mustang

[]Kevin Caveny

O_O I love this. THing looks awesome

[]Tracey St Aubin

If you're interested there is a gold Mustang registry on FB.

[]Tracey St Aubin

A four light Mustang! Very nice!

[]Michael B. Gonzales

Nice job on this bad boy!

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