Shapeshifter: Eric Bardekoff’s Constantly Evolving 2016 Cobra Jet

Seven seconds. That’s how long it takes for this Mustang to rip from one end of the quarter-mile to the other. Well, 7.62 seconds to be exact.

The stunning S550 belongs to Eric Bardekoff of Commack, New York, owner of EB Custom Works in Ronkonkoma, NY. It isn’t an easy car to write about, for the simple fact that its modification never ceases. This Mustang is in a constant state of transformation, as it evolves to meet the ever-changing competition.

But this Cobra Jet clone came from humble beginnings. Bardekoff found it on the Copart auction website back when it was a simple Ingot Silver EcoBoost. You see, the S550 platform had launched only about a month prior, so it was unheard of to see a used one come across the auction block. The EcoBoost had about 1,200 miles on it before it was wrecked, but its damage didn’t scare Bardekoff. He began learning the ropes of body work at the ripe old age of 12, so the then 20-year-old bid away – and he won.

He bought it in hopes of building it into a Cobra Jet clone, and he succeeded, with the first S550 Cobra Jet to compete in NHRA. Originally, the car was powered by a naturally aspirated 429 Ninja engine backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. That made it the first and only stick car in NHRA Factory Stock (FS/X), a class designated for naturally aspirated vehicles.

It was so early in fact, that Ford asked him to pump the brakes.

“There wasn’t a class for it when we bought it,” Bardekoff explained. “The NHRA wouldn’t let us run it because the combination hadn’t been approved yet, so it was the first completed shop-built CJ clone.”

Very soon after, FS/X went away. Bardekoff deduces that there just wasn’t enough of a draw to the class, when FS/XX existed – the class’ power adder counterpart.

It was back to the drawing board, and Bardekoff decided he would switch it up and install a Coyote topped with a 2.9L Whipple supercharger, mated to the same 5-speed manual. But it wasn’t just any Coyote. He had managed to get his hands on a serialized Cobra Jet crate engine – the real deal. Unfortunately, technical gremlins kept arising, and Bardekoff realized his combination wasn’t going to be as competitive as he originally hoped it would be.

Bardekoff's tuner, Nicky Notch of NMRacing, lines him up in an elimination round at the World Cup Finals.

Finally, Bardekoff made the hard switch to an automatic Turbo 400 transmission.

“We milled the heads and bumped compression up, changed the cams, etc., and we ended up collapsing the cylinder walls at the top end of Route 66 Raceway at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl because it wasn’t sleeved,” Bardekoff explained.

The carnage was devastating and caused the EB Custom Works team to once again consider their options. After the long process of deciding on a new route, Bardekoff came up with what you see here.

As it sits, the car is powered by a 315 cubic-inch 2016 Ford Coyote engine. The combination is topped by a Whipple Gen 5 3.0L supercharger. Bardekoff went through a myriad of tuning software before deciding to invest in a MoTeC M150 PCM with MoTeC C125 dash. He credits the system with finally making the combination competitive. It’s tuned by Nicky Notch of NMRacing out of Long Island.

As it sits, Bardekoff's Cobra Jet clone is powered by a Coyote engine topped with a Whipple 3.0-liter supercharger. That gadget in the middle picture is a Clear View Filtration oil filter that allows Bardekoff to check the condition of his oil at any time.

A Weldon fuel pump (D2035-A) transporting Q16 fuel feeds the hungry beast and exhaust screams through American Racing headers with 2-inch primaries.

Shifting happens through an ATI-built TH400 transmission with an M&M shifter and an ATI Billet 9.5-inch converter. A Mark Williams 4043 bonded driveshaft transfers the power to the Ford 9-inch rearend. It features an in-house custom Ford 9-inch housing built to EBCW specifications, with stock-style body-side brackets and EBCW upper and lower control arms. But more on those in a minute. Bardekoff chose 4.29 gears, along with Strange 40-spline gun-drilled star flange axles and a spool.

The suspension is where the car really shines, and a lot of its components are custom made by Bardekoff through EB Custom Works. While the front control arms are stock with spherical bearings, the rears were custom-made by EBCW and are of the Cobra Jet style 4-link variety. He chose Santhuff shocks for all four corners, with caster camber plates, travel limiters, and shock sensors rounding out the list of front suspension modifications. A rear anti-roll bar and panhard bar were both designed by Bardekoff as well. The rear suspension is described as being an EBC “Cobra Jet style solid-axle” suspension. A Steeda K-member was chosen to cradle the high-horsepower powerplant – stay tuned for an installation story coming soon!

Power is put to the rear Billet Specialties 15×10-inch double beadlock wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson 275/60/15 ET Street rubber. Up front, Eric chose RC Components wheels with another pair of Mickey Thompson tires. Strange brakes in the front and rear bring the Cobra Jet to a screeching halt – with the help of a parachute, of course.

Eric built a custom carbon-fiber front belly pan, clearly visible during the car’s constant wheelies. A Cervinis hood was chosen, along with a spoiler from Modular Motorsports Racing, or MMR. Anderson Composites ground effects were installed as well.

The paint scheme was designed and sprayed by Bardekoff using House of Kolor paint with Sikkens clear. No, it’s not a wrap, though people often confuse it for one. The stripes continue into the jambs and the engine bay as well. Even the tiny, hidden details of this car have been thought-out and planned for.

Though most drag cars feature overlooked interiors, this is not one of them. Inside, an Alcantara headliner and door panels flow with Racetech seats and a five-point harness. He designed a custom Mustang rear seat delete as well. The cage was fabricated by Bardekoff and is certified to 7.50.

And if you think it stops there, you’re wrong. Bardekoff has even had his Stilo helmet custom airbrushed with a lucky paint scheme by Funky Frank of FF Studios located on Long Island, NY.

Bardekoff gave airbrush artist Funky Frank free rein when it came to the design and execution of his helmet. That dog on the back? That's Bardekoff's "pit pup," Mia.

So far, the Cobra Jet clone’s best quarter-mile time has been a 7.62 at 179 mph, which happened at World Cup Finals: Import vs. Domestic at Maryland International Raceway (the same weekend these photos were taken). The car 60-foots at 1.14 and makes somewhere around 1,150 horsepower, weighing in at 3,450 pounds. Bardekoff went to the semi-finals at this year’s World Cup, unfortunately breaking on the starting line after an incredibly successful weekend.

As of this writing, the car is under the knife yet again, shedding weight in preparation for a new class designation. In 2020, this Cobra Jet will be competing in NMRA’s Rengade class. Bardekoff has been hard at work taking out a whopping 400 pounds (lots of carbon-fiber parts added) and has partnered with Whipple this season. Whipple will be providing a new supercharger to top the CJ’s engine, giving Bardekoff the extra boost in power needed to be competitive in the eighth-mile class.

Bardekoff’s Cobra jet will be debuting in its new trim this weekend at the NMRA Spring Break Shootout in Bradenton, Florida. You can watch it live on SpeedVideo.com!

Eric Bardekoff is the husband of author Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff.

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies got her start in automotive media while studying at Rutgers University and eventually landed at Roush Performance outside of Detroit, where she now resides. She writes for various automotive outlets, works with rescue dogs, enjoys driving her Roush-charged Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox body Mustang race car, and is convinced that absolutely nothing in the world beats a sunny weekend at the track.
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