Ford's SVT division essentially took a year off from producing Cobras in 2002, mostly because lead engineer John Coletti (who often gets credit for bringing the Mustang back from the brink of extinction) felt that the 02 model didn't live up to the Cobra name. Well, we think Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best: "I'll be back."
The 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra came back in a big, bad way. Called the "Terminator" by the SVT team, the name stuck as Mustang enthusiasts took to referring to it as the Terminator Cobra — a fitting title for a supercharged monstrosity that could destroy almost anything in its path.
It was a big deal at the time because the Terminator Cobra engine had a supercharger, the first factory Cobra to have one. But beyond that, the engine wasn't just a supercharged Ford Modular V8 — it had a ton of upgrades, like a durable crankshaft and water-to-air intercooler, but most importantly, it was built for modification. The SVT team clearly developed the engine with custom mod freaks (like us) in mind, which gave the 2003 Terminator Cobra an immediate upper hand and has helped the platform thrive ever since. The 2004 Mustang SVT Cobra simply drove along those same lines. It helped that the New Edge Mustang was already popular and remains so to this day — the Terminator Cobra represents the absolute peak of that era.
In case you missed the memo above: the Terminator Cobra engine is a modder’s oasis. But that’s not all. Perhaps more important, the thing is durable as hell. It can take an absolute beating, especially in terms of horsepower, meaning you can push its numbers hard enough to be track competitive even by today’s standards. Plus, SVT built the engines to last, which is why you might see an 03 or 04 Terminator Cobra hit over 100,000 miles before the engine needs to be rebuilt at all.
The specs on the 2003 Terminator Cobra were hellishly impressive at the time, and they still are, especially when you keep in mind that this is just a starting point for a car that was meant to be aggressively customized. In addition to what’s listed below, we should also note that the 03 Terminator Cobra had independent rear suspension — killer for track drivers but immediately swapped out by drag racers.
Ford had a winner on its hands here, and they (especially the SVT team) knew it. That’s why the 2004 Terminator Cobra specs didn’t change too much — just an updated exhaust system and an increase of around 20 horsepower.
The Terminator Cobra engine is excellent, but performance tuning and some simple supercharger upgrades or induction mods, like a cold air intake swap, could easily add an extra 100+ RWHP. You could even drop in a 2.3L or 3.4L Whipple supercharger to potentially achieve 200 RWHP or more. Custom suspension, like a performance clutch or shifter, will also kick things up. At that point, you’ll be playing with a lot of power, so upgrading the stock fuel delivery system is a necessity.
The 2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra and its 04 successor were built with modifications in mind — fulfill that destiny with Lethal Performance. Stop by The Tune Shop to get started with the custom tunes you need. The SVT crew deserves an immense amount of credit for what they accomplished with the Terminator Cobra, but they built something that would be a pure killing machine in the hands of a gearhead like you. Think of it as a passing of the torch — and you can find your fire at Lethal Performance.SHOP 2003-2004 mustang Cobra parts