New Cobra Jet concept adopts turbocharging technology from production EcoBoost® engines in the quest for ever more performance. Since its 2008 debut, the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet has been the most successful production-based drag racer. Ford Racing engineers have continuously improved and evolved the Cobra Jet to keep it at the head of its class.
The Ford Racing Mustang Cobra Jet concept revealed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show proves there is indeed a replacement for displacement. In the perpetual quest to stay ahead of the competition, for the first time ever Ford Racing has equipped its factory-built turn-key drag racer with a turbocharged engine, adopting the same award-winning technology found on road-going EcoBoost engines.
“When a new generation of Cobra Jets arrived four decades later, they immediately began winning with a modern, fuel-injected 5.4-liter V8 topped with a belt-driven supercharger,” recalls Jesse Kershaw, Ford drag racing competition manager. “Over the past four years, the Cobra Jet has gone on to become both a fan and competitor favorite, the most successful late-model vehicle in drag racing.”
“Racing pre-dates Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford himself raced the 999 and won in 1901 to generate interest for the new company,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing Technologies. “We haven’t stopped since.
“We’ve competed in almost every category of auto racing, from deserts to road courses to ovals and drag strips over the past 111 years, often with cars and trucks based on our production models, including the Mustang,” Allison added.
“Despite its smaller displacement, the improved breathing of the 5.0-liter with its twin independent variable camshaft timing and Boss 302 cylinder heads provided comparable performance while showcasing the high technology available in street Mustangs today,” said Rob Deneweth, Cobra Jet powertrain development engineer.
While superchargers provide instant on-demand power, they can also sap a lot of power especially at high boost levels. The 2.9-liter blower used on the 2013 Cobra Jet uses as much as 100hp to drive the supercharger.. That’s power no longer available for acceleration.
Fortunately, every internal combustion engine has a plentiful source of energy that normally goes to waste right out the exhaust pipe. Turbochargers harness the thermal and kinetic energy in the exhaust gases to drive turbines and compressors that force more air into the engine for a big increase in power without most of the parasitic losses of a supercharger.
“Ford has embraced turbocharging technology and a lot of our production engineers are working with the technology on a daily basis, so we have a lot of knowledge,” added Deneweth. “So we decided to apply that knowledge to the Mustang Cobra Jet to showcase what our engineers and suppliers know how to do.”
Turbocharger designer and release engineer Dave Born joined the Cobra Jet team after working on the 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 for the F-150 to help make this concept a reality. “When done right, turbocharging is just as good as or better than supercharging,” Born confirms.
“To overcome the biggest perceived drawback of turbocharging – the lag – we’ve selected the smallest possible turbos that will give us the airflow we need,” he added. “We’ve also got some other enhancements to help improve the responsiveness; we have very low inertia and very low internal friction.”
“We’re already using ball bearings in the turbocharger of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke® diesel V8 in Super Duty trucks,” adds Born. “We’re also evaluating materials like the titanium aluminide for the turbine, and it could find its way into future production programs as the costs come down.”
The Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Twin-Turbo project car features its own unique take on the new global Ford Racing livery that is also highlighted at SEMA. The white body is accented with an asymmetric black and blue stripe running over the top of the car from bumper to bumper. The Cobra Jet’s flanks blend an upward sweeping version of the stripe with the traditional striking cobra head executed in black with blue accents.
“For every Cobra Jet model we release, every powertrain goes through hundreds of hours of dyno testing and a minimum of 50 runs on the drag strip before we’ll sign off on the durability and capability of that engine and car,” adds Kershaw. “Like Ford vehicles for the street, we want to provide our racing customers with cars that are best-in-class, affordable and reliable.”