Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

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Ford Mustang Cobra
A 1998 Cobra Convertible
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1993-1999/2001–2004
ClassGrand Touring
Body style(s)2-door Coupe & convertible
2tform
RelatedShelby Mustang

The Ford SVT Mustang Cobra is a pony car built by Ford since 1993. It is generally the highest performance version of the Mustang built by Ford, sitting in the model range above the Mustang GT model. On rare occasion, Ford produces a higher-performance Cobra R variant.

1993

The 1993 Mustang Cobra was the first vehicle produced by Ford's newly minted Special Vehicle Team. This team, SVT, was created for to create a special car for the "special" people that buy mustangs. The model was based on the Third-generation Ford Mustang, built on the Fox platform. This model featured the availability of red, black, or teal exterior hues with a choice of either black or smoke interior colors in cloth or optional leather. The car was powered by a Windsor 5.0 L engine rated at 235 hp (175 kW) and 280 ft·lbf (380 N·m) torque. A limited run of 107 Cobra R units was produced.

Year Model Production
1993 Base Cobra 4,993
R 107
Total 5,100

1993 Cobra R

The 1993 Cobra R was a stripped down version of the Mustang Cobra that was built with the racer in mind. To save weight this competition model was stripped of all but its bare essentials including air conditioning, rear carpeting and the radio system with its speakers and wiring. To further save weight they eliminated all sound dampening insulation, carpet padding, and body seam sealer. Also since a race car rarely needs rear seats they were removed with the seat belts, and seat brackets to further remove weight which also made this the only factory production Fox Body Mustang ever to come as a two seater. To further increase performance the Cobra R was equipped with larger brakes, stiffer coil springs, Koni shocks, larger anti roll bars, and a strut tower brace. To reduce operating temperatures and increase durability at race speeds the "R" was also equipped with a larger capacity radiator and oil cooler. The only exterior difference between the R model and the standard Cobra were it's special five lug wheels. These were actually the same wheels to be used on the newly styled upcoming 1994 mustang GT. To later become known as "Tribars" Ford decided to paint them glossy black and to also polish the center caps and wheel lips to keep them distinguished from the 94-95 wheels. Available in only Vibrant Red, only 107 1993 Cobra R models were ever produced making it one of the rarest, fastest, and most collectible Fox Body Mustangs of all time.

1994-1995

SN-95 Windsor SVT Mustang Cobra
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1994–1995
11,267 produced
PlatformFR SN-95
Engine(s)5.0 L Windsor V8
Transmission(s)5-speed T-5 manual

Ford re-introduced the Cobra in mid-1994 featuring the new styling as well as larger brakes, a revised suspension setup and wider wheels than the outgoing version, but the engine was essentially a carryover. Power was boosted to 240 hp (180 kW), though. New colors were introduced, Rio Red, Crystal White, and Black keeping the total palatte at three. Differences between GT and Cobra included the front bumper (Cobras feature round fog lights), Cobra-specific wheels, and in 1994 and 1995 the Cobra utilized the LX (V-6 3.8L)'MUSTANG' rear bumper, while the 'COBRA' rear bumper didn't appear until 1996. Unique for the 1995 Cobra was the removable hard top option. 499 were produced and were only available with the black exterior and tan leather interior. These models were essentially the same as the convertible Cobra but had several small provisions to accept the retaining mechanisms of the fiberglass top and dome/map light wiring.

Year Model Production
1994 Coupe 5,009
Convertible 1,000
Total 6,009
1995 Coupe 4,005
Convertible 1,003
R 250
Total 5,258
Total 11,267


1995 Cobra R

In the wake of the '93 R’s unexpected success, SVT engineers developed a more powerful R-model based on the 1995 Cobra. Top priority became addressing customer requests for a larger, more powerful engine and more fuel capacity. In response to those requests, SVT replaced the Cobra’s 5.0 L V8 with an SVT modified version of Ford’s 5.8 liter Windsor V8, re-engineered to produce 300 horsepower (220 kW) and installed a Kevlar 20 US gallon fuel tank. To handle the torque of the more powerful engine, a Tremec 3550 5 speed manual transmission was installed. Again, weight-savings was targeted, so there was no back seat, radio, power windows/seats or air-conditioning – not even fog lights, which were omitted to provide ducts for getting cool air onto the front disk brakes. Heavy-duty progressive-rate springs, thicker stabilizer bars and a front strut tower brace helped improve handling on the racetrack. Only 250 vehicles were built, available only in white with saddle interior, each with a unique center-tiered fiberglass hood tall enough to clear the engine and induction system.

1996-1998

SN-95 Modular SVT Mustang Cobra
1998 Mustang Cobra
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1996–1998
28,706 produced
PlatformFR SN-95
Engine(s)4.6 L DOHC Modular V8
Transmission(s)5-speed T-45 manual

For 1996, Ford finally did away with the aging 5.0 liter V8, replacing it with a new aluminum 4.6 liter, DOHC, "modular" unit that was smoother and had slightly better fuel economy. This engine produced 305 hp (227 kW) and 300 lb (140 kg)-ft of torque, making the new Cobra capable of mid-13 second quarter miles. Early models were backed by the Borg Warner T-45 5-speed manual transmission. Late in 1998, the transmission was changed to a more sturdy Tremec T-45. In 1996 Ford also introduced the Mystic Cobra which featured color shifting paint manufactured by BASF. The paint was green based, and depending on the angle you looked at the car the colors shifted from green to purple to root beer to gold.

Year Model Production
1996 Coupe 7,493
Convertible 2,510
Total 10,003
1997 Coupe 6,961
Convertible 3,088
Total 10,049
1998 Coupe 5,174
Convertible 3,480
Total 8,654
Total 28,706

1999-2001

SN-95 2 Modular SVT Mustang Cobra
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1999–2002
15,819 produced
PlatformFR SN-95 2
Engine(s)4.6 L DOHC Modular V8
Transmission(s)5-speed T-45 (1999), 5-speed 3650 (2001), 6-speed T-56 (2000 R Model) manual

With the introduction of the "new edge" Mustang in 1999, came a new SVT Cobra. All 1999-2001 Cobras featured independent rear suspensions, unique to the Cobras. The new Cobra had an upgraded 4.6L DOHC engine with 320 hp (239 kW) and 317 ft·lbf (429 Nm) of torque. Due to problems resulting in the 1999 Cobra not producing the claimed horsepower (later remedied via recall), the 4.6L Cobra was not produced in 2000. Ford replaced the intake manifold, exhaust and computer components to produce 320 hp (240 kW). The Cobra came back in 2001 with the same power rating with the problem fixed.

While the 2001 Cobra shares almost all the same components of the 1999, some changes were made. The changes included:

  • The engine block was changed from the Teksid block to the Windsor Aluminum Plant or WAP block. The WAP block is regarded to be weaker than the previous Teksid block. Some 2001s received the Teksid, either from the factory or as a replacement motor
  • Newer revision cylinder heads.
  • Cobra-specific seats with a combination of leather and alcantara [suede-like microfiber] inserts - 1999 Cobras had normal Mustang seats.
  • A rear bumper that reads "COBRA", instead of "MUSTANG", as the 1999 Cobra had.
  • A rear badge on the trunklid was changed to say "SVT" instead of "SVT Cobra" as the 1999 Cobra had.
  • The wheels for the 1999 and 2001 are 17x8. The '99 & '01 were sold with silver powdercoated aluminum wheels. The 2001 had the option of polished wheels in the same style.
  • The T-45 transmission in the 1999 model was replaced by the 3650 in the 2001 model.
  • The IRS halfshafts and differential were changed from 28 splines in 1999 to 31 splines in 2001.
  • The spoiler was redesigned.
  • The CD player was upgraded to a 6 disc unit.
  • The center console and trim were redesigned.
  • The emergency brake was fitted with a 'boot' of leather to cover the hole in the console where it protrudes.
  • The headlights were changed from a chrome background to a black background. The newer headlights are sometimes referred a "smoked" or "tinted" but this only refers to the black background. The actual lenses are clear and identical to that of the 1999.
  • The color of the odometer digits was slightly changed, and the color of the instrument cluster lighting was slightly changed as well.
A Teksid block
A Windsor Aluminum Plant block

In the pictures at left showing the two blocks of the SN-95 2 SVT Mustang Cobra, note the extra ribs designed to impart stength to the weaker WAP. Also, note the hatching in valley of the Teksid is square, while the WAP has diagonal hatching.

A similar Cobra model was produced in the US in 2002 for export to the Australian market.*

Year Model Production
1999 Coupe 4,040
Convertible 4,055
Total 8,095
2000 R Coupe 300
Total 300
2001 Coupe 3,867
Convertible 3,384
Total 7,251
2002 Total 100
Total 15,746
(including exports)

2000 Cobra R

In 2000, a special Cobra R came in limited production of 300 with a 5.4 L DOHC engine that was rated at 385 hp (287 kW) and 385 ft·lbf (521 Nm) of torque, although independent dyno tests have shown that it produced rear-wheel output that nearly matched both of those numbers, suggesting the ratings may have been substantially conservative. This model was street legal; however it lacked many of the comforts the base production line Cobra enjoyed. This model had no radio, no air conditioning, and no back seat.

The limited edition 2000 Cobra R

The 2000 Cobra R had several distinguishing features that allow one to easily identify it as something more than a normal 1999 or 2001 Cobra. The "power dome" hood for instance, is taller than the normal Cobra hood, and has gills that can be cut out to reduce engine compartment temperatures. The rear spoiler is tall and wide, providing much needed down force at high speeds. The Cobra R is equipped with dual side exhausts, and a race-style fuel cell is clearly visible protruding under the V6-style rear diffuser. The front bumper is adorned with a low riding, removable front diffuser. The wheels are also uniquely styled five spoke 18-inch (460 mm) x 9.5-inch (240 mm) alloys. The engine employed special DOHC cylinder heads, a "Trumpet-style" intake manifold, more aggressive camshafts, short-tube headers, and a high flow exhaust system sporting 3 Borla Mufflers.

With its aggressive styling and harsh suspension, the 2000 Cobra R was a hard edge track day car.

2003-2004

SN-95 2 Supercharged SVT Cobra
A 2003 Mustang Cobra
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production2003–2004
19,140 produced
PlatformFR SN-95 2
Engine(s)4.6 L DOHC Modular V8
Transmission(s)6-speed T-56 manual

Debuting in early 2002, the 2003 Cobra came with a supercharged 4.6 L DOHC engine rated at 390 hp (291 kW) and 390 ft·lbf (529 N•m) of torque. It was later determined that Ford had underrated the Cobra, as actual SAE-corrected flywheel output was determined to be in the 425 to 430 horsepower (320 kW) range. This car was capable of running mid-12-second 1/4 mile times in factory trim with a skilled driver. Numerous improvements were made to the powertrain and driveline to handle the increase from the previous model year. A cast iron block was used instead of aluminum, with stronger internals (forged Zolner pistons and Manley H-beam connecting rods) to handle the 8 psi (55 kPa) of boost delivered from the supercharger. Other improvements include the use of an aluminium flywheel connected to a Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission, 3.55:1 rear axle ratio and stronger 31 spline half shafts with revised upper and lower control arms.

For 2003, SVT offered a limited-edition Tenth Anniversary Cobra which featured unique color schemes, wheels, and badging. SVT produced 2,003 units of the Tenth Anniversary model, which was available in Red, Black, and Silver. The 10th Anniversary Package was offered in both coupe and convertible, featured unique wheels, red leather interior accents (seats/door panels), "carbon fiber-look" interior trim , red brake calipers, and SVT 10th Anniversary badges on the floor mats and rear decklid.

The only major addition to the 2004 model was the introduction of Screaming Yellow (replacing Zinc), Competition Orange and the optional Mystichrome paint scheme. The Mystichrome appearance package included a unique color-shifting exterior paint that was meant to be an improvement to the Mystic paint offered for the 1996 Mustang Cobra. The Mystichrome interior seating featured a unique color-shifting leather that mimicked the exterior paint.

The 2003-2004 SVT Cobra is noted by many for offering excellent performance coupled with stunning looks. With inexpensive "bolt-on" modifications such as intake, exhaust, ECU tune, and a smaller supercharger pulley, Terminator Cobras have been known to exceed 500 hp (370 kW) at the rear wheels.

2003 Cobra engine

A definitive history of this model and John Coletti's SVT operations was captured in the non-fiction book Iron Fist, Lead Foot by John Moriarty.

Year Model Production
2003 Coupe 8,394
Convertible 5,082
Total 13,476
2004 Coupe 3,768
Convertible 1,896
Total 5,664
Total 19,140

2007

Main article: Shelby Mustang

Carroll Shelby lends his name to a 2007 Mustang, officially called the Shelby GT500. Ford has not announced production of a Cobra built on the newer Mustang platform. The GT500 is marked with prominent Cobra badges, long a trademark of both Shelby and SVT, and sits atop the mustang range, ostensibly replacing the SVT Cobra.

Trivia

For SVT Cobra Production number determination, all an owner has to do is call SVT at 1-800-367-3788 and give last 6 digits of the vehicle's VIN, and have proof of ownership, such as a vehicle registration card.

Production

References