Ford has offered a version of the Mustang that is dragstrip-ready for quite a few years now. The Cobra Jet has always turned out some impressive performance numbers, but has largely been seen as irrelevant to the development of the road-going version. That might have changed now that Ford unveiled a concept version of a new type of Cobra Jet at SEMA, one with turbochargers. As it stands, Ford builds 50 units of the Cobra Jet annually, and customers have a choice between a naturally-aspirated or supercharged version of the 5.0-liter Ford Racing V8.
Supercharging has generally been preferred over turbocharging for many drag racing applications because of the low-end torque advantages, but this does come at a cost. Ford says that the 2.9-liter Wipple supercharger used for the Cobra Jet eats up as much as 100 horsepower in parasitic loss, and improvements in turbocharging technology have presented a possible way around this. At the official launch of the vehicle at SEMA, Ford engineer Dave Born said “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”.
Ford hasn’t released any power figures for the twin-turbo engine, listing horsepower on the spec sheet as “get used to the winning light” and torque as “tire-frying”, but Car & Driver reports that they say it will run the quarter mile in the high eights at 155mph. Ford says the car will qualify for NHRA Super Stock A, which also suggests that it would be the most powerful of the Cobra Jet engines offered. The naturally-aspirated car qualifies for Stock Eliminator B and the supercharged model for Stock Eliminator AA, both of which are below Super Stock A, and classes are all based on power-to-weight ratios.
The turbochargers used are BorgWarner, and the setup is based on that of the Focus ST. This is where it gets interesting, because although this car might not even see production as a low-volume track car, rumors have been flying that Ford has plans for an EcoBoost engine in the sixth-generation Mustang. It is therefore possible that the SEMA concept was built to either drum up excitement for a turbocharged Mustang or to gauge our response to it. With as unwilling Ford has been to disclose any details, there does seem to be some sort of ulterior motive at work. This remains pure speculation, but if there was ever a way to get us excited about a turbo Mustang, this is it.