Rick Kaknes Rockets Towards the 8s

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


Since 2004 when he purchased this stone-stock 11,000 mile ’03 Cobra convertible, Rick Kaknes has been terminating the competition. Rick’s street-legal Mustang packs a TVS/stick-shift combo and is widely known as being one of the quickest in the nation. The Cobra has run low 9s at 149 mph, and Rick has turned on many win lights in NMRA True Street, NMRA Terminator vs. GT500 competition, and also in Stick Shift Mafia events.

To run consistent low 9s, Rick’s Cobra is fed a strict diet of E85 fuel and 22 psi of boost that’s topped with a 75 hp shot of nitrous for good measure. It’s a well-thought-out package that has given the Winter Haven, Florida resident many thrill rides down the 1,320.

Justin Starkey, VMP President, is responsible for the tune that developed 740 rwhp and 685 lb∙ft of torque from the mild 4.6 L engine. That level of output came with a 2.3 L VMP Gen2 supercharger, but it was recently swapped for the newest VMP Gen3 TVS. “Justin has been tuning my car since 2005,” Rick said, “The best part about my Ford Mustang Cobra is that it looks so simple and is completely and totally civil on the street, but it’s brutal on track. It surprises a lot of people,” he added. And speaking of brutal, you should see Rick hammer the gears in his factory Tremec T56 six-speed transmission.

While low 9s are impressive, Rick was looking for more so he got with  Starkey to discuss his options. The timing was right and VMP upgraded Rick’s SVT Cobra with a new VMP Gen3 2.65 L TVS.

“Our VMP Gen3 TVS Supercharger kit easily replaces the factory Eaton M112 Supercharger on the 2003-2004 ‘Terminator’ Ford Mustang Cobra, with minor modification necessary to the coolant crossover,” said Starkey. “In most cases you can expect gains of 50-150 rwhp beyond current VMP Gen2 abilities, depending on pulley size, boost level, and fuel type. It was designed using OEM CAD data, so you can expect OE quality and great fitment. It even clears the stock hood,” he added. “The supercharger features a one-piece housing with a side inlet like the factory supercharger. The one-piece design makes for a very rigid housing. That allowed us to design a larger rear inlet, it decreases the chance of vacuum leaks and makes installation easier. It also includes a 1-year warranty from VMP,” Starkey added.

Other features of the VMP Gen3 TVS include: proven Eaton reliability with 100,000 mile service interval, pre-filled with oil, intercooler bolts directly to bottom of blower, side inlet for easy access to fuel rails, side inlet allows use of different throttle body styles, vacuum line connections and T-MAP in factory locations, large 45 mm bypass valve for cooler operation, improved driveability, and greater fuel efficiency. The EGR provisions are built into the casting, a block off plate provided as well, and pulleys are easily bolted on and off using six Allen head bolts. The VMP Gen3 TVS is a direct replacement for stock superchargers on 4.6 L ‘03-04 Cobras, ‘07-12 5.4 L, and ‘13-14 5.8 L GT500 engines. We also offer many different packages for Coyote-powered vehicles.

“With a VMP TVS you get the reliability of an Eaton blower and the performance of the TVS rotor pack design,” Starkey stated. “The Twin Vortices Series compressor has proven itself to be highly efficient over a wide operating range of 10-22-plus psi. The 2650 rotors use improved rotor technology beyond what was available with the 2300-series. It uses a high-twist symmetrical four-lobe rotor design with excellent adiabatic efficiency,” he added.

The real proof came when the Ford Mustang was strapped to the dyno. With just the blower swap, the SVT Cobra belted out 780 rwhp and 750 lb∙ft. of torque (without nitrous) at the same 22 psi. This is a gain of 40 rwhp, 65 lb∙ft. of torque, and that will help Rick sneak closer to the 8s. The supporting cast includes a Teksid block that is filled with Wiseco 9.5:1 pistons, stock rods, and a stock crankshaft. The engine and the T56 are backed by a solid-axle 8.8 with 3.73 gears and Eaton Truetrac differential. And the Cobra is no lightweight, coming in at 3,600 lbs with Rick in the seat.

“I can’t wait to get back on track with the new blower,” said Rick. “Justin and the team at VMP pay such close attention to detail. They provide excellent service and their on-track support is stellar. It’s so much fun to race, but it also has air conditioning and a stereo so it’s great to cruise, too,” he added. “But how far do I go?” he said. And that’s the question all performance enthusiasts ask.