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1999 Ford Crown Victoria - Active Retirees

The story of Mike Callahan and his Cobra Vic

By , Photography by Mike Callahan

Tech Notes

Who: Mike Callahan
What: 1999 Ford Crown Victoria
Where: Cincinnati, OH. Home of the Bearcats!

Engine: A stock Mustang Cobra, dual-overhead cam, 4.6L engine was dropped in place of the single-overhead-cam engine Ford's Panther Platform originally came with. Roush Performance in Plymouth Township, Michigan, performed the swap and further modified the engine for improved cooling, adding a larger radiator from a V10 F-250, an engine-driven clutch fan, an additional electric pusher fan mounted in from of the radiator/AC condenser, and a larger oil cooler. To make room, the battery was moved to the trunk, and the coolant reservoir from a '93 Crown Victoria was installed. The Cobra engines were rated at 320 hp compared with the Crown Vic's 230 hp.

Transmission: A fullsize Ford hasn't come from the factory with a manual transmission since the '60s, so the Cobra Vic's T-45 five-speed is one of the most intriguing aspects of this car. There's just something so satisfying about a stick-shift transmission in a big car. To improve shift feel and durability, Roush rebuilt each transmission with carbon-fiber synchronizer blocker rings. They grafted a clutch pedal onto the Crown Vic's stock brake-pedal assembly and ran the clutch cable through the firewall, just like a Mustang. A B&M Ripper shifter for a Mustang pokes up through a Ford Contour center console modified to fit the transmission tunnel.

Exhaust: The stock manifolds were left in place. Crown Victoria Police Interceptors came with dual exhaust, which is a good start. Roush built catalyst-delete mid-pipes and connected them to a custom Borla exhaust system, which includes an H-pipe.

Rearend: All the Panther platform cars (Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Town Car) came with Ford's stout 8.8-inch rear axle. Roush just changed the ring-and-pinion from 3.55:1 to 3.73:1 with a Traction Lok differential. Mike recently had 4.10:1 gears installed.

Suspension: For serious cornering, the stock springs and shocks were way too soft. Roush scrapped them for Eibach lowering springs with a much higher rate (we've heard as much as 1,200 in/lb for the front springs) and Monroe shock absorbers. The front and rear sway bars also got tossed in favor of much bigger ones. After buying the car, Mike further modified it by adding rear control arms from Carriage House Engineering and an even bigger rear bar. Equipped with Delrin bushings, the control arms have eliminated wheelhop issues Mike was getting with the stock arms.

Brakes: Surprisingly, the braking system on these cars was good right from the factory. Roush just upgraded the brake pads with a set from Performance Friction and added cooling ducts to the backside of the front rotors. In addition, the rubber flex hoses were replaced with braided stainless-steel hoses.

Wheels/Tires: The skinny, steel wheels were replaced with a set of 17x9 1995 Cobra R wheels. Roush also installed 3-inch-long wheel studs, front and rear, because the wheels needed 3⁄4-inch spacers, front, and 1⁄2-inch spacers, rear, to achieve the correct backspacing. Currently, Mike uses 285/40ZR-17 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.

Safety: Roush built and installed a six-point rollcage complete with window nets for all four windows and a Halon fire suppression system with discharge nozzles located in the passenger compartment and near the fuel cell. The stock gas tank was removed, and a Fuel Safe 22-gallon fuel cell was installed in the trunk. It houses a Mustang Cobra fuel pump, which feeds the injectors through braided fuel lines. A set of Recaro front buckets with five-point safety harnesses keep Mike both comfy on the freeway and track-legal.

Interior: The center console from a Ford Contour looks as if it were made for the Crown Vic, and we love seeing the five-speed shifter instead of an automatic-transmission gear selector. The stock speedo/idiot-light dash was replaced with Cobra instruments, which include a tachometer as well as gauges for water temperature, volts, and oil pressure.

Cool Trivia: Only 18 cars were built, but they were numbered 1 through 19, skipping the number 13. Bob Bondurant kept one Cobra Vic, which is on display at the school.

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