MG 2001 Cobra Terminator Swap - Build Thread

josephcostello

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This thread will document the build of my 2001 cobra from start to finish. I will be taking a complete terminator drivetrain out of an 04 cobra car and putting it into my 2001 chassis. If you are looking for a high horsepower build with a built motor, trans, rear end and a big blower this is not for you. The goal since I've been 16 with this car was a terminator swap eaton/street car that was show quality and could be driven anywhere. That is exactly what this car will be. Keeping this car as close to "factory" as possible is extremely important to me. This thread will document the process of building my dream car since I've been 16. If you are thinking what a terrible financial mistake I’m about to make, you are absolutely correct but please leave those comments to yourself. I will be dedicated to the build from start to finish and I predict the car will be done over the next 4 months or so. If you don't care to read about the history of this car, you can skip to post 2 and start enjoying content.

My love affair with these cars started when I was 14 after riding in a silver 03 convertible (ironically enough, my donor is also a silver vert). The first time I heard the whine of the eaton at the top of third gear is something I will remember forever. When I was 15, I knew I wanted my first car to be a cobra and knew everything about these cars. A month before my 16th birthday, I took delivery of my first car:

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The car was a one owner 55k mile car from Oregon. Lady driven, garage kept, with minor modifications. It was an extremely clean car with tasteful mods done to the suspension and a rebuilt transmission. Furthermore the car was (and still is) extremely tight and drives awesome. The car was never a daily driver which allowed me to keep it in the shape I got it in. Below are some pictures when I was 16/17. I never had big money to spend on mods besides going through a couple sets of wheels and seats. I spent most of the money I had on maintenance and taking care of the car. While I became extremely partial to the car in the back of my mind I knew it was never a terminator. My dream car was always a terminator but at 16 and 17 with $1000 in my savings account buying one was simply never possible.
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The dream of terminator swapping the car developed one day when I was at work drooling over a ported eaton terminator video on YouTube on one of my lunch breaks. At this point I knew I needed 10k to buy an 03/04 drivetrain and I had no idea how I could do it given I was working part time making $9.00 an hour. Furthermore, college was less than two years away so it was always something I planned for the car at a later date. When I graduated high school the car was driven about 300 miles a year and otherwise lived on a lift inside. Going away to college and focusing on bigger things than a dumb car became my priorities. I actually posted the car for sale twice and just gave up on the vision I had for it.

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I think at some point over the past few years my interest in the car faded but I know for a fact the dream never did. Early April of this year as I was finishing up my senior year of college I paid my friend @CobraTerritory a visit and rode in his 03 with a built motor. Doing a few pulls in that car was all I needed to spark the flame to the dream I had 6 years previous. Seeing his build and what he did was everything I had wanted to do to mine. Thanks again JR for that short drive, I am so happy we did that. Luckily, I had quite a bit more money at 22 than I did at 16. I had already decided to not rush into a career right after school. So with money behind me and no debt, the time to build the car was now. Going home that night I made the decision, it was now or never.
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josephcostello

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I knew I needed a donor car as I did not want to piece together everything I would need. Therefore, the search for a donor car was the first step. I knew I did not want to take apart a good car so the search for a wreck was my priority. Luckily, I was planning to go out of state for a summer job so I knew I had some time to wait for the right car to pop up. After 3 months of searching FaceBook and craigslist nationwide twice a day I finally found the donor. I have to give a huge shout out to my buddy @BossMane for being a stand up guy and helping me through this process. My original plan was to buy a car from Copart in Memphis which Cody was going to help me with. After that fell through we both kept at eye out for another and he kept me motivated on my hunt.

The car I ended up with was a 70k mile convertible from Chicago. This car had a pretty rough life, being wrecked in 2014 and getting half assed repaired at that. You can see the damage to the frame and rust on the car in some of the pictures. While the paint and body were rough, the terminator heart was the only thing I cared about. I swallowed my fear, sent the guy a deposit, flew out to Chicago and put the car on a transport back to California. The car arrived mid July and sat under a cover for the next 3 months while I returned to my job out of state.

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With the car home, the next step was to get prepared for the build. I started putting together a list of everything I would need aside from the donor car and stashing cash. Scouring eBay one day, I found a guy in So Cal selling half a garage full of NOS cobra parts. I knew I would never find something like this again and having all these parts would allow me to take my car to the next level while selling some of the parts to fund my build. It was a no brainer, I sent the seller a bunch of money and was on my way to Santa Monica the following Monday.

I couldn’t believe what I saw when I showed up. The seller had a 2001 cobra since new and bought everything he could think of that would be valuable someday while it was still available from Ford. Some of the most prized items were two brand new pairs of ambers with harnesses, terminator mirrors, a brand new set of Bullitt side skirts, way too many sets of 99/01 floor mats, a 2001 cobra front and rear bumper, 10 Saleen wheels, and a crap ton of parchment interior goods including carpet, door panels, radio bezels and other misc trim with multiples of everything. This was all new stuff, most of which was unopened and in factory wrapping. I will be selling some of this stuff, especially all the interior stuff. If you see something you like - PM me. I ended up buying a bunch more stuff he didn’t even knew he had. I loaded everything in a rental van and drove it home. Marc, if you see this - thanks for the hook up! Your parts are going to be put to good use. When the car is finally finished, I will be stopping by your place.
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josephcostello

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Finishing up my summer job, I came home and began getting started. First step was to redo the shop I would build the car in. Once it was completed, I rolled the donor car inside to get it ready.
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A compression test gave me mixed results
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Thankfully the two closest to the firewall were strong but the two low numbers on the driver side scared me. I’ll be performing a leak down when the engines on a stand - but for now I’m leaning towards ARP studs & gaskets anyways and having the heads looked at.


Teardown was next. I won’t be needing the bumper, hood, seats or mirrors so those are up for sale. I'm dropping the drivetrain out the bottom and in the next three-four days the car will be mostly stripped.
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Currently this is the farthest i've gotten...i'm really eager to get my car out of the elements and in the shop so i'm hoping I can get this torn down quickly. The engine is about ready to drop. The last picture really shows how sad this car is, notice where it's bent by the A pillar, the amount of overspray whoever fixed this car got on the bodyharness.... and the rust:
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RX1Cobra

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Yup. Cars a lot more fun with the Eaton. Makes 440 now with the stock pulley. Will build the motor at some point and put a tvs on.
 

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