Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
November 17, 2003
Contributers: Randy G, Courtesy of Ford SVT Archival

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Between the eye-puzzling MystiChrome fenders, you'll find the big and bad supercharged 4.6-liter Cobra motor. With 390 tire-smoking horsepower, the SVT Cobra stands alone in the ponycar war, and looks to hound Corvettes and their golf club-carrying owners.

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The MystiChrome Cobra is the first production vehicle to be equipped with an interior that changes colors. Thanks to Garden State Tanning, Dupont's Chromaflair pigments were applied to the leather of SVT bucket seats, thus bringing the interior to life. Despite the difference in medium, the color is almost exactly the same inside and out.

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With 390 lb-ft of torque available hazing is a common occurrence, but like the same activity that is conducted at colleges across America, it is frowned upon by the authorities.

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The '93 SVT Cobra.

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The '93 SVT Lightning.
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The '94 SVT Cobra Indianapolis Pace Car.

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The '96 SVT Cobra.

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The '99 SVT Contour.

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The '99 SVT Cobra coupe and convertible.

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The SVT Cobra R. From front to back, the 2000, 1995 and 1993 models.

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The '99 SVT Lightning.

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The '02 SVT Focus.

Ford performance enthusiasts have been given a gift that most other American car makers don't offer, and it's called the Special Vehicle Team. More commonly known as SVT, it is a group of performance-oriented individuals who love cars and have been given great liberties by their parent company to create the cars and trucks we dream of and put them into production for us to enjoy.

SVT fills a small niche in the automobile industry, but for us it's by far the most important segment. While the mainstream magazines are busy testing the latest Suzuki Aerio or Saturn Vue, we are hanging on every hint of horsepower that happens to whisper past our ears. Ford's Special Vehicle Team caters to our need for speed by producing some of the most exciting domestic vehicles available. They've been doing it for over 10 years and the other manufacturers, who now realize the benefit of such a division, are playing catch up.

Getting Started
SVT grew out of a simple request for a more powerful Mustang. Around 1990, Neil Ressler, executive director of vehicle engineering, asked one of the engineers, Janine Bay, if she could build a hot Mustang using off-the-shelf parts. At the time, Ford Special Vehicle Operations (or SVO) had a catalog that was growing with racing parts and what better way to showcase them than with a spicier production stallion?

After the ponycar had been put through the paces, it was producing 40 more horsepower than a stock 5-liter and turning heads at Ford. Ressler felt that this Mustang could be built in small numbers similar to the SVO Mustang, but it would ultimately offer more gallop for the gold. Backing the impressive numbers the Mustang boasted was the fact Ressler knew that the European Special Vehicle Group was building low-volume cars like the Sierra and Escort Cosworth overseas, so it was conceivable that a similar group for the U.S. domestic market could be established.

Bob Rewey was next on the list of people to convince that this idea could go further. Rewey, himself an avid car nut, was the executive vice president of sales and marketing and liked the idea. With Rewey in their corner, the team was able to procure the go ahead they needed. Ressler formed a small group of automotive enthusiasts headed up by Janine Bay and shortly thereafter, they became known as the Special Vehicle Team.

One question that begged to be asked was how long would SVT last? The SVO Mustang and Taurus SHO were swept under the carpet after a short stint, so what would prevent SVT from experiencing the same fate? Two of the things that the SVO group lacked were competent sales people and technicians, and establishing a dealer network that could provide a higher level of service to the SVT customer was essential for its survival.

Another key factor in SVT's success was the liberty it was given by the mother company. Instead of answering to Ford's Board of Directors, SVT reports to a group called the Stakeholders. Much like the corporate brass, the Stakeholders are made up of high-ranking Ford executives, but they have more to do with the production and marketing of cars than they do with stock prices. The Stakeholders meet quarterly with two top guys at SVT, those being the Director of SVT Programs O. John Coletti, and SVT Marketing and Sales Manager Tom Scarpello. SVT works within its own budget and the Stakeholders make the decisions.

"The Stakeholders is a big part of why SVT is successful," said former SVT Sales and Marketing Manager Timothy Boyd. "We had to have the support of the broader product development areas."

What this boils down to is a bunch of car guys building factory hot rods for the masses. "It's nice to work with products you are excited about," notes Scarpello. "What's also interesting is the nature of the business within Ford. We have separate autonomy that enables us to do a lot of things." These key traits have enabled them to bring us awesome vehicles like the Mustang Cobra and F-150 Lightning, and along the way, they have given us a few other savory tidbits to chew on.

The Machines
Back in 1991 that Mustang that Bay had created was dubbed the GT40, taking note of the 40-extra horsepower the pony was packing over the Mustang GT, but Ford's legal department told them they needed to use the Cobra name or the company would lose the rights to it. At this same time the F-150 brand team had been working on the Lightning, and it was decided that both would be featured in the SVT line-up. Since they couldn't very well call a truck a Cobra (at least not in good taste), the GT40 moniker was dropped and replaced with Cobra.

The Cobra debuted in 1993, which would be the last year for the Fox chassis and a fitting send off as well. Although the Cobra was rated at 235 hp, the sum of its SVO parts offered something more like 265-270. But the Cobra was to be more than just a dragstrip dominator. SVT expected more of it and sought out famed racers Jackie Stewart and Bob Bondurant for assistance in making this Mustang a world-class handler. Suspension tuning netted a softer ride than the GT model, yet offered superior grip compared to its cousin. Of course an upgrade to 17-inch diameter wheels helped, too. Braking was improved by converting the pony to a four-wheel disc arrangement, and this combined with the suspension improvements created a well-rounded package.

SVT certainly didn't want the Cobra to be lost in a sea of Mustang GTs, so Cobra-specific ground effects were created, as was a rear spoiler and front grille opening featuring a running horse. The Cobra was offered in three colors, Rio Red, Teal and Black, however nine cars were sold wearing Vibrant Red. Interior trim on the Cobra gave us the now extremely popular white face gauges, a leather shift knob and emergency brake handle and your choice of Black cloth, Opal Gray cloth or Opal Gray leather upholstery.

Total sales for the '93 Snake came in at 4,993, 1,854 of which were black followed by 1,355 in Teal and 1,784 in the two shades of red.

The Cobra wasn't the only SVT product in 1993 though. The F-150 team had been working on the Lightning and it was deemed a good idea to make both the Cobra and the Lighting part of the SVT family.

Obviously the Lightning was a whole lot bigger and heavier than the Cobra, but this didn't prevent SVT from turning it into a corner-carving barnburner. Starting with the venerable 351 Windsor engine for the powerplant, the Lightning received the GT-40 cylinder heads that the Cobra did, but it got its own special camshaft, along with the GT-40 tubular intake manifold. Conservative ratings had now become the norm and the 5.8-liter Lightning motor was offered to the public producing 240 hp, a mere five more than the Cobra, and 340 lb-ft of torque. This was matched with a 4.10:1 ring and pinion gear to get the bad boy up and moving in a hurry.

SVT exercised its influence on all areas of the truck by adding large disc brakes up front and lowering the truck's center of gravity by dropping the ride height ever so slightly. Added grip was provided by 17x8-inch diameter wheels and Firestone Firehawk rubber.

The Lightning was available only in a standard cab, short bed form and the SVT experience continued with the interior, as well. Reclining bucket seats wrapped with custom embroidered upholstery greeted occupants with an upscale flavor not normally associated with trucks of that time, and a leather trimmed steering wheel and SVT's white face gauge treatment set this F-150 apart from the rest of the nation's best selling truck. The Lightning's exterior was clean and unmolested, as a monochromatic paint scheme was adorned with modest graphics denoting the pickup's heritage. Raven Black (2,691) and Vermillion Red (2,585) were the only two color choices and total Lightning production closed in 1993 with 5,276 units.

The SN95 Mustang was introduced in 1994, which initiated a whole new ball game for the SVT crew. The new platform offered improvements in all areas from ride quality to interior design. It was also shod with a body that more closely resembled Mustangs of old, but of course SVT added its own flair with custom Cobra-specific front and rear bumper covers, a unique decklid spoiler and headlights, not to mention the appropriate badging on the sheetmetal.

Under the hood, power went up five ponies to a still underrated 240, thanks in a large part to the addition of an electric cooling fan, but the majority of the hard parts remained the same. The SN-95 body carried a little extra weight, which may have affected performance slightly, but the trade off in ride comfort and handling was far and away worth it.

Behind the Cobra-only, 17x8-inch wheels were huge 13-inch disc brakes up front, matched with 11.65-inch rotors out back. This along with standard anti-lock braking made sure the new car's extra heft ensured excellent stopping power despite the added weight. Once again the suspension was a bit more compliant than the standard GT fare, but ultimately handling was improved through revised suspension tuning.

The year 1994 marked the first for the Cobra convertible, and it was also the year the Mustang paced the Indianapolis 500. Color choices changed only slightly with the three options being Crystal White, Rio Red Tinted Clearcoat or Black Clearcoat. Total Cobra production went up to 5,009 units.

The '94 Lightning went largely unchanged through 1995, as did the Cobra. Lightning production hit 4,007 pickups for 1994 and 2,280 for 1995. The Cobra enjoyed a 4,005 unit run in 1995.

A New Heart For The Snake, A Hiatus For The Lightning
The Modular-motor era began at Ford in the early '90s, and it was in 1996 that it took hold in the Mustang. Having been fitted between the fenderwells of Lincoln's Mark VIII sports coupe since 1993, SVT's serpent spec'd out with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. Horsepower jumped from 240 to 305 in the Cobra, all of which was supplied by a mere 281 cubic inches of displacement.

Each of the high-tech, four-valve engines was and continues to be hand-built by specially-trained technicians who sign their names to their work before it is fitted between the fenders. The engines utilized a six-bolt-main, aluminum engine block along with a forged steel crankshaft to provide a solid foundation on which to build. The Cobra's brakes went unchanged as they were more than capable of handling the braking chores, however the transmission was swapped. The venerable Borg Warner T-5 that had backed every fuel-injected 5-liter was replaced with BW's T-45 design.

Appearance wise the Cobra was given a wicked hood replete with a snarling-nostril look that was aggressive to say the least. The Cobra's unique decklid spoiler was gone, replaced by the standard GT piece, but no one was looking because the color choices changed. The basic red, white and black scheme was replaced by a more seductive Laser Red Metallic, Crystal White, Black Clearcoat and, of course, the enigmatic Mystic. The latter was a shifting hue that changed when the light hit it, coming up as green, purple or black. Depending on the light source other shades may have come to the surface, as well. Ford promised it would be a one-year only option with limited production and SVT stayed true to its promise.

The Snake's mechanicals remained the same for 1997 and 1998, but the color palate was jumbled for an added thrill. Rio Red made a one-year comeback in 1997 and Pacific Green appeared, as well. When 1998 came around, SVT went to the opposite coast for inspiration trading Pacific Green for Bright Atlantic Blue. The eye-searing Laser Red returned and Canary Yellow was offered starting mid-year. Cobra production numbers for 1996 nudged the 10K mark at 10,002, and 1997 numbers came in slightly above that at 10,049. In 1998 that figure jumped to 15,189.

With the Lightning bowing out after 1995, there was a void in SVT that was filled in 1998 with the SVT Contour. Based on Ford's Mondeo platform that was well respected in Europe, the Contour was a hot little sedan just waiting for the American hot rodders to get their hands on. Overseas, the Mondeo sported a turbocharged 2-liter powerplant, but SVT engineers went with Ford's Duratec 2.5-liter V-6 for some naturally aspirated grunt.

Backed only by a five-speed transmission, the engine's induction was treated to abrasive media porting to help it achieve 195 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. This kind of power really made the sedan get up and go, but as with every SVT product, there was more to it than just speed.

Larger brakes combined with a highly tuned suspension provided the proper handling to compete with its target enemies, the German buzzbombs from BMW and Audi. The interior got the SVT treatment with luxurious leather upholstery, white face gauges and a 160-mph speedometer, and Black and Silver Frost Clearcoats were joined by Toreador Red for the exterior color selections.

For 1999 SVT added more suspension upgrades, changed the rubber from Goodyear to BFGoodrich and increased power output to 200 hp and 169 lb-ft of torque. Tropic Green Metallic Clearcoat was added to spice up the color combos. The SVT Contour continued production through 2000, until the entire Contour line ceased production to prepare for the upcoming Ford Focus. A total of 11,445 of the four door BMW slayers were produced over the three-year span. "The SVT Contour showed we knew how to do something other than two-door sport coupes," noted Timothy Boyd. "It was very well received and helped create a family of SVT products."

The year 1999 also marked a big change for the Mustang Cobra, which got a body makeover featuring a bold and edgy design that bore even more retro cues than the style before it. Things like the three vertical and rectangular taillight lenses and the side scoops harkened back to the '60s, but under the sheetmetal there was a technological renaissance occurring.

The 4.6-liter powerplant received a new intake manifold and cylinder heads to start. This bumped power output to a tire-burning 320 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. As we all applauded the increase in power, the major focus was the addition of an independent rear suspension or IRS.

Having been used under the likes of Thunderbird Super Coupes, the IRS wasn't knew to Ford, but they had to figure out how to stuff it under the decklid of a Mustang. Once they did, it was smooth sailing as the IRS provided a much more placid ride quality, especially in turns where uneven road blemishes would normally upset the balance of a solid rear axle car.

The '99 Cobra received its own body panels fore and aft, thus separating it from the rest of the herd. A simple and elegant five-spoke, 17x8-inch wheel was designed for the Cobra and shod with BFG rubber, and exterior color choices included the very vivid Electric Green Metallic along with red, black and white. Electric Green was a love it or hate it proposition that was leading the way toward another color-shifting shade for 2000, but the mysterious lack of horsepower in some '99 Cobras forced SVT to put the Mystic Gold idea--not to mention the whole Cobra program--aside for a year.

Ford boasted 320 hp, but some enthusiasts experienced less. SVT stepped up to the plate and corrected this issue by installing a new intake manifold and different exhaust system. MM&FF documented this repair in "The Fix Is In" (October 2000). Offering to repair every '99 Cobra led SVT to the decision to cancel production for 2000. For enthusiasts it would be worth the wait. Engine maladies aside, the new edge Snake was joined by an all new SVT Lightning in 1999 that shocked the masses with its rippled styling and brute horsepower.

Based on the new F-150 chassis, the Lightning had switched to the 5.4-liter Triton Modular engine, but rather than leave it gasping for air, SVT supercharged the beast with an Eaton M-112 roots-style blower. Featuring 360 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, the '99 Lightning was ready for anything you could throw at it. Utilizing a sportside bed and standard cab, the truck became a nimble corner carver despite its great heft. Eighteen-inch wheels and 295mm-wide Goodyear rubber made sure of that.

Indoors the bucket seats were now extremely supportive and sexy, as they shared a leather and suede combination like the Cobra. New white face gauges lit up the cockpit at night, and a sexy new body belied its brutish nature.

The '99 Lightning was well received and praised for its handling prowess and thunderous power, but SVT is always looking to up the ante with its vehicles and it did just that in 2001, as the Lightning received induction modifications and a larger intercooler to increase output to 380 hp and a stump-pulling 450 lb-ft of torque.

Exterior colors had grown from Bright Red, Black and Oxford White, to include Silver and True Blue Metallic Clearcoat, thus giving the SVT owner more ways to personalize his/her truck. Lightning production was 4,000 units for 1999 and increased to 4,966 for 2000. Cobra production topped 8,000 for '99 and was slightly down with just over 7,000 for 2001. The popularity of SVT's truck was hot on the Cobra's heels with 6,381 units delivered. The year 2001 would turn out to be great for SVT, as its hot and heavy Lightning paired up with a lethal Snake.

The Cobra was back in action and ready to strike. The power problems of 1999 were long gone and there were eight colors to choose from. Two shades of red joined Zinc Yellow and Silver Metallic, along with a rather sinister Mineral Gray and the always evil Black Clearcoat. A polished version of the 1999 17-inch wheel was offered and gave the Cobra a classy visage. Enhancements to the upholstery and the seats themselves rounded out the changes for the Snake that year, and the momentum that SVT had gained helped them launch their next project, the '02 SVT Focus.

SVT tweaked the pocket rocket with help from Cosworth to pump up the 2-liter Zetec engine to 170 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A dual-stage intake manifold that offered both long and short runner lengths gave the Focus an unnatural low-end grunt for just 2.0 liters of displacement, but it also allowed the engine to rev freely at high rpm. Variable cam timing and a bump in compression contributed to the cause, as well.

Backed by a six-speed manual transmission, the Focus fit right into the hot sport compact market where Acura and Honda had a stranglehold. This same market fostered an interest in the World Rally Championship (WRC), thanks in part to Sony's Playstation game Gran Turismo. Ford had been a part of the WRC and the Focus was its newest entry into the race.

With SVT combining 170 hp, suspension tweaks and a four-wheel anti-lock braking system that could stop you faster than a brick wall, Focus rally fans could easily feel like they were their favorite Ford rally drivers simply by sliding behind the wheel of SVT's hot hatchback.

The SVT Focus came to market in 2002, and it looked the part with standard 17x7-inch wheels wearing Continental ContiSportContact rubber, and special body cladding gave the Focus the SVT look. Four exterior colors were available, CD Silver, Pitch Black, Infra-Red and the very vivid Sonic Blue, and all were had with a black leather/cloth upholstery with either red or blue accents.

SVT also allowed key players in the automotive aftermarket to tinker with the Focus before it debuted. When the hot compact went on sale, parts like Jackson Racing's supercharger were already waiting to further pump up the hot hatch. The Focus appeared again in 2003 and a European Appearance package was offered for an additional price. This package brought Competition Orange and Screaming Yellow as exterior color choices, as well as different wheels from the European Focus, but no matter how hot the Lightning and SVT Focus were, the show stopper for 2003 was the SVT Cobra.

The Terminator
Rumors of a supercharged Snake had abounded in 2001, and the name Terminator was tossed around as the vehicle's codename. With that kind of bravado, enthusiasts knew something hot had to be brewing and SVT didn't disappoint. With all of the knowledge it had gained working with the supercharged Lightning, SVT kicked the Cobra up a notch by adding an Eaton M-112 supercharger to the top of the four-valve motor. With 8 psi of atmosphere entering the engine, an air-to-water intercooler was sandwiched between the blower and the cylinder heads to cool down the incoming charge, and improved cylinder heads effortlessly guided the combustion mixture to the power chambers.

SVT's rivals from GM were about to be killed off at this point after a 35-year run, but they had offered two key things that the Mustang and Cobra did not have. The most significant was the six-speed manual gearbox. The F-bodies had been blessed with them since 1993, and with the .50 overdrive ratio came a better 3.42 ring and pinion ratio. Another important item was the availability of a 17x9-inch wheel. This allowed GM to slap on 275mm-wide tires for added grip in the corners and in a straight line.

The '03 Cobra got both of those and more, as TTC provided a stout six-speed transmission and SVT bumped up the rear gearing to 3.55:1. With much improved torque multiplication and a massive horsepower infusion, SVT also beefed up the IRS with harder bushings and heavy-duty half shafts. Spring rates at all four corners were revised not only to cope with the additional power, but also to compensate for the additional weight.

SVT had changed to an iron cylinder block, as the aluminum version's well-being was questionable under boost. The decision was the right one as the iron block, which was fortified with Manley connecting rods and forged pistons, has survived enthusiasts pushing them to well over 600 rear-wheel horsepower reliably.

The '03 Cobra set itself apart from the standard Mustang visually, as well. With the supercharger requiring more room, a new hood was crafted and it was complemented with a new rear spoiler, and front and rear bumper covers. Enthusiasts were also introduced to a new 17x9-inch wheel shod with 275/40/17 Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber. Similar in design to the 2001, the '03 wheels featured a five-spoke design and were available in either a machined aluminum or chrome plating.

SVT also released the 10th Anniversary Cobra toward the end of the 2003 production run. These special-edition cars (2,003 total) were available in Torch Red, Black and Silver, and came equipped with unique wheels and badging exclusive to the anniversary model. The interior also benefited from the celebration as it was adorned with red upholstery inserts and trim panels. The supercharged Snake set new standards for the late-model musclecar and has spawned a cult following unlike any Cobra before it, but SVT is not resting on its laurels.

To kick off its second decade in 2004, SVT is releasing another color-changing Cobra called MystiChrome (seen here as a convertible for the first time anywhere). Utilizing Dupont's Chromaflair light interference pigments, MystiChrome reveals a bevy of blue, purple and green shades along with some teal, black and a hint of gold thrown in. Like the '96 Mystic Cobra, the 2004 model will be sold in a limited run of 1,000 units, but unlike the '96 Cobra this one has taken the color-changing effects inside to the interior where Chromaflair pigments have been added to the seat inserts, steering wheel and trim panels--an industry first.

The Future
While we can go on telling you all about the wonderful things SVT has accomplished, the truth is the results speak for themselves and they speak volumes at that. But we must be mindful that it is the people at SVT that make the dreams a reality. People like O. John Coletti, the director of SVT Vehicle Programs, and Tom Scarpello, the current marketing and sales manager.

Coletti was the driving force behind such legends as the SuperStallion and the 10-liter Boss Mustang, and since arriving at SVT he has pushed the performance expectations through the roof. To understand Coletti's motivation is to know the story behind the first 14-second staff meeting.

Coletti had come to MM&FF's home track of Raceway Park in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and brought a market research vehicle dubbed "Thunder." Based on Ford's Expedition SUV, Thunder had been given a hot Lightning drivetrain along with the Lightning's body styling cues. MM&FF test driver Evan Smith made a few passes down the quarter-mile in it, but Coletti wanted all four staffers to make a run, at the same time! "I want to see the first ever 14-second staff meeting," touted Coletti. While normally gung ho about such opportunities, we never did make that run, but it was the guy from Ford who was urging us and not the other way around.

At the introduction of the 40th Anniversary Mustang in New York, MM&FF Tech Editor Evan Smith was given the keys to the MystiChrome Cobra on hand, and then proceeded to do a burnout on live television. Was it Coletti that handed him the keys? Of course.

Scarpello, while not as outspoken as Coletti, brings impeccable credentials to the job, a passion for fine automobiles (not to mention motorcycles and airplanes), and an almost devout dedication to the customers who purchase his cars. Case in point: When it was discovered that some '99 Cobras weren't making their advertised horsepower, Scarpello ordered a fix for the entire line of vehicles, even though it meant cancelling the '00 Cobra model run, including the big-buck Mystic Gold special edition.

Under Scarpello, SVT has unveiled the '00 Cobra R, the '02 Focus and the '03 Cobra--not a bad thing to have on your resume. And now he's pushing the envelope into the future with such goodies as the next generation Lightning and Cobra, each of which is rumored to be nudging the 500hp plateau.

But Coletti and Scarpello are just the leaders of a small group of enthusiasts that work solely on SVT products. "There's probably fewer than 50 people directly associated with the program, but hundreds indirectly," noted Scarpello. "There are quite a few folks in the company that help us out on occasion. They step up to help even though they are not part of SVT." We bet those people wish they were.

What's next for SVT? "We'll be working off of a brand new platform and that will keep things interesting," said Scarpello of the new Mustang chassis. "There will always be a Cobra."

In addition to the new Mustang chassis, Ford will be introducing new models like the Futura, which would be a fine candidate for the SVT treatment. The Focus has been given a turbocharger over in Europe, and we've run spy photos of boosted SVT versions on these pages.

SVT's core values of performance, substance, exclusivity and value are the foundation that makes each and every one of its products a success. For more information on Ford's Special Vehicle Team be sure to check out its Website at www.svt.ford.com, as well as the SVT Owners Association at www.svtoa.com. By the time you have read this, Powered by SVT will be available from SVT. Authored by our own Jim Campisano, the book offers a tremendous insight into the SVT experience, the people who work there and the great automobiles that have resulted from their hard work.

R You Ready?
Aside from the tremendous products that SVT has produced, it has also offered complete balls-out versions of its super Snake, and called them the Cobra R.

The first iteration came in 1993 with the first-generation Cobra. The R model disposed of such pleasantries as the air conditioning, stereo and back seat, just to name a few things. These were to be all out race cars, and their limited production run of 107 units would make them instant collectibles.

Eibach Springs and Koni dampers at all four corners told drivers this was a road course carver for sure, and SVT upgraded the brakes to mammoth 13-inch rotors up front with 10-inch discs out back. A five-lug conversion necessitated the use of the '94 Mustang GT 17-inch wheel, which were painted black and given a chrome-plated center cap. In addition, the Cobra R got front lower control arms from the upcoming 1994 model and, if you wanted one of these hot horses, it was only available in red.

The 1994 model year brought the updated Mustang chassis and by 1995, SVT was back in with the R model. This time around the 5-liter powerhouse was replaced with 351-cubic-inches of Windsor Ford power, and offered 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Like the R before it, the amenities were stripped from the car which lighten the load considerably.

The now legendary and often imitated Cobra R wheel came on the Cobra R in 17x9-inch wearing 255/45/17 BFGoodrich Comp T/A radials. Since the taller 5.8-liter motor required a new hood, a special fiberglass model was constructed and this too became a popular aftermarket modification. For 1995 the Cobra R was only available in white.

The next Cobra R wouldn't come until 2000, but good things come to those who wait and the latest R model would celebrate the new millennium in style.

Based on the newer edgy design of the '99 and up Mustang, the Y2K Cobra R was a brute that said "I've got a bad attitude" with its looks, and those on the receiving end of its performance found out just how bad.

SVT worked with a host of aftermarket companies to make the Y2K Cobra R one bad beast. Eibach, Bassani, B&M, Brembo and K&N helped pump up this Snake, and SVT did their part by shoehorning 5.4 liters of Ford Modular power. The 385 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque, in fact, came by way of a new intake manifold and four-valve cylinder heads from the off-road truck program.

A Tremec six-speed transmission was placed behind the stout motor, and huge 18x9.5-inch wheels were designed specifically for this car. The limited 300 Y2K Cobra Rs featured a wild aerodynamic package too, with a tall rear wing that was reminiscent of a Trans-Am race car, and a front splitter to keep the nose planted at the 170-mph top speed. The foglights were removed to provide cooling for the front brakes, and a unique fiberglass hood was again designed to cover the 5.4's huge intake manifold.

The '00 Cobra R went head to head with the world's greatest supercars in numerous magazine tests, and held the Ford flag high with its stellar performances.