The year was 1998. The Denver Broncos were Superbowl champs; the New York Yankees swept the World Series; American History X and There's Something About Mary packed theaters, while Titanic cleaned up at the Academy Awards-and Keith Duda opened a new chapter in his life of cool hot rods.
The deputy sherriff from Colorado Springs, Colorado, was in the market for a new toy, and an early production '93 Cobra fit the bill perfectly. "I found the car online in Oklahoma and set out on the 15-hour drive from Colorado," Keith tells us. "When I got there, the guy who owned the car didn't even know it was a Cobra." Amazing! "When I asked if I could test drive it, I was told 'I don't want you out joyriding in my car!' After assuring him I didn't drive all this way for a joyride, I drove the car and then took it home that afternoon."
Model: Jessica Rockwell
Keith's new Snake rolled off the assembly line as production number 102 of 5,100, and its black exterior with grey cloth interior makes it one of only 327 Cobras produced with this combination.
Given the rarity, Keith was content (at first) to enter the car in shows and take it to local cruise nights. A Camaro soon changed all that. "One night a '97 Z/28 Camaro pulled away from me like I had the brakes on," Keith relates. "I came to find out the Camaro had a supercharger, and I just couldn't keep up."
After about a month, the Cobra's show-and-slow days were over. A Vortech S-trim took up residence in the Snake's engine bay, adding some needed grunt. A trip to mile-high Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colorado, yielded track times in the low 13-second range (which would be well into the 12s at a sea-level track).
In typical power-junky fashion, the added boost soon wasn't enough to quench Keith's thirst for power. A set of GT-40 aluminum heads along with a few upgrades to the cooling system soon followed, making this Cobra just a little more venomous. Once Keith headed back down the strip, he saw improvements as his Cobra dipped into the 12-second zone. Shortly after, a 75hp shot of giggle gas, courtesy of a Nitrous Express kit, further reduced e.t.'s, and Keith was now playing in mid-11-second territory.
"About a year later, I needed more power," Keith says. "I installed a D.S.S. 331ci short-block beneath the GT-40 heads, S-trim supercharger, and nitrous kit. The World Class T5 was replaced with a Tremec 3550, and a Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch helped transfer power." With the new combination pushing close to 600 rwhp, 10-second quarter-mile passes became the norm. After the S-trim supercharger was swapped for a YS-trim unit, power increased again, and e.t.'s continued to drop as this Cobra became a serious low 10-second player.
Keith's Cobra was now running consistent low-10s and still seeing a healthy amount of street duty. It sounds like the perfect car for the MMFF True Street class, and in September of 2005, Keith did just that when he entered True Street at the Fun Ford Weekend event in Topeka, Kansas. He rolled into the track on Friday and as he pulled up to line for a test and tune pass, disaster struck.
"I did my burnout and staged the car," Keith tells us. "When I launched, a nitrous backfire blew the Cobra intake into about six pieces. Being that it was 4 p.m. on Friday, I wasn't able to find a new intake manifold. A local welding company was willing to come in on Saturday and repair it. I picked it up at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and returned to the track to install it. Everything was finally finished around 11:30, but I was unable to make another test-and-tune pass to make sure the intake would hold up.
"We set out on the 30-mile cruise, and everything seemed fine. Once we returned to the track, I began my three back-to-back passes and laid down a 10.82, 10.85, and a 10.82 for an average of 10.83, which amazingly enough, was fast enough to win the event."
Since Keith's bittersweet True Street win, his Cobra has seen more changes to the combination and now makes more power than ever. The YS-trim supercharger has been replaced with an XX-trim unit, which pushes 25 psi of boost to the Vortech Mondo Cooler that sticks out of the hood, adding a menacing look. The nitrous system has also been seriously upgraded and now features a dual-stage Nitrous Express plate system, which adds an extra 200 hp at the touch of a button. The GT-40 heads have given way to a monstrous set of Dart Pro One CNC-ported cylinder heads.
The combination was tuned using an AEM engine management system. Track times have improved with the added power, and Keith now rockets down the 1,320 in the 9-second range with a best e.t. of 9.88 at 142 mph. And in case you were wondering, this Snake tips the scales at a hefty 3,900 pounds, and even has a full stereo with a 10-inch subwoofer.
"The car is ready for a new season of racing, and I'm looking forward to some low-9-second e.t.'s!" states Keith with a smile.
Having tons of power and classic good looks never gets old. With a 1,000-plus-horsepower, 9-second Cobra, we can't wait to see what the next chapter in Keith's horsepower story brings.