Ford SVT Mustangs

It was on this day twenty years ago, February 6, 1992, that Ford announced the Special Vehicle Team (SVT), forever changing the Ford Mustang. The program, originally headed by the legendary John Coletti, was developed to create high performance vehicles, and while a few other Ford vehicles received the SVT treatment including the Contour, Focus and F-150, the Mustang was always the main focus. Beginning with the SVT Cobra in 1993, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team began a tradition of offering the ultimate in factory Mustang performance that continues today with the 650 horsepower Shelby GT500.

Here’s a look back at the Mustangs that SVT has developed and produced over the past 20 years.

1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra 

The original SVT Mustang. The Cobra debuted in 1993 with an upgraded version of the 5.0-liter V8 producing 235 horsepower and 280 lb-ft torque thanks to high-flow cylinder heads, an upgraded upper intake manifold, a more aggressive camshaft, a larger throttle body and high-flow fuel injectors. The T-5 5-speed transmission was also upgraded to handle the extra power, and a unique suspension system developed by Tokico was also used.

1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R 

The rarest of all SVT Mustangs (only were 107 built), the 1993 Cobra R is the first in a line of legendary “R” Mustangs that were designed to drive on the racetrack. Upgrades from the standard SVT Cobra model include larger front and rear brakes, power steering fluid and external engine oil coolers, a strut tower brace, aluminum radiator, unique 17-inch wheels with Goodyear tires and adjustable Koni shocks. The 5.0-liter V8 retained the same specs as the one in the standard Cobra, but it had less weight to push around thanks to the deletion of the radio, air conditioning, rear seats and all sound deadening material.

1995 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra1994-1995 SVT Cobra 

For 1994 the SVT Cobra received the new styling of the SN-95 Mustang as well as upgraded brakes, a new rear suspension setup and wider wheels and tires. The SVT Cobra model was further differentiated from the standard Mustang GT thanks to a unique front bumper with round fog lights and COBRA embossed on the rear bumper. The 5.0-liter V8 remained for 1994, although it received a slight bump in output to 240 horsepower. In 1995 a removable convertible hardtop became an option.

1995 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R1995 SVT Cobra R 

SVT decided to once again produce a Cobra R model for 1995. Like its predecessor the Cobra R featured a variety of upgrades to perform at the racetrack including the deletion of the rear seats, radio, power windows and air conditioning. Unlike the 1993 model, however, the 1995 SVT Cobra R received an upgraded engine in the form of Ford’s 5.8-liter Windsor V8 that produced 300 horsepower. A beefier Tremec 3550 5-speed manual replaced the T-5 unit, and a larger fuel tank and a heavy duty suspension were also installed. The exterior featured a unique hood to clear the larger engine as well as deleted fog lights that fed cool air to the front brakes.

1998 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra1996-1998 SVT Cobra 

In 1996 Ford replaced the aging 5.0-liter V8 with a new “modular” 4.6-liter engine. Although smaller, the new powerplant had a higher output – 305 horsepower and 300 lb-ft torque – mated to a Borg Warner T-45 5-speed transmission. During this time SVT also released a very limited edition Cobra with “Mystic Chrome” paint that shifted color depending on the light.

1999 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra1999 SVT Cobra 

Ford launched a new SVT Cobra in 1999 with the “New Edge” styling, but the changes were more than skin deep. For the first time in the Mustang’s a history an independent suspension replaced the solid rear axle out back. The 4.6-liter V8 was rated at 320 horsepower and 317 lb-ft torque

2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R2000 SVT Cobra R 

After a five year absence the Cobra R model returned for 2000, although the track-ready model wasn’t dulled down during its time off. The 2000 Cobra R is the most aggressive Mustang ever built and is essentially a street legal race car. Under the hood the 4.6-liter engine was swapped in favor of a 5.4-liter V8 producing an underrated 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft torque. The Cobra R was incredibly capable at the track with a suspension system co-developed by Eibach and Bilstein, Brembo 13-inch front brakes, sticky BFGoodrich G-Force KD tires, a race fuel cell and a close-ratio Tremec T56 transmission. The exterior also played the part, with an aggressive front splitter, side exhaust and a massive rear wing. Magazine tests showed that the 2000 SVT Cobra R was capable of producing more than 1.0g of lateral acceleration on the skidpad, could reach 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and had a top speed of more than 175 mph.

2001 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra2001 SVT Cobra 

While very similar to the 1999 model, the 2001 SVT Cobra received several substantial updates due to findings that the 4.6-liter V8 wasn’t producing the as-advertised power. After a year-long pause in production for 2000, SVT rectified the situation in 2001 with a heavily revised 4.6-liter V8 using an all-new engine block and redesigned cylinder heads. Several other changes were made, including switching to a Tremec 3650 transmission, upgrading the axles and differential, as well as subtle exterior and interior updates.

2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra2003-2004 SVT Cobra 

The SVT Cobra entered the forced induction era with the introduction of the 2003 model. Codenamed “Terminator” by SVT, the new Cobra featured an all new high-strength cast iron block in favor of the standard aluminum version and featured forged internals to handle the extra power from the Eaton M112 supercharger. The 4.6-liter V8 produced 390 horsepower and 390 horsepower, although many owners easily modified their cars to produce much more thanks to the strong components of the engine that could handle the additional horsepower. During this time Ford also produced a few limited edition SVT Cobras including a 10th Anniversary edition and the Mystichrome SVT Cobra with color shifting paint.

2007 Ford Shelby GT5002007-2009 Shelby GT500 

The SVT Cobra era ended with the launch of the S197 Mustang in 2005, but it was soon replaced by the Shelby GT500 in 2007. Developed by SVT in cooperation with Shelby, the 2007 GT500 features a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft torque making it a fitting continuation of the SVT.

2008 Shelby GT500KR2008-2009 Shelby GT500KR 

Built as a modern version of the 1968 Shelby GT500KR, the new “King of the Hill” featured several upgrades compared to the standard Shelby GT500 including a new suspension setup and unique Goodyear Eagle F1 supercar tires for improved handling as well as a new intake system that allowed for the supercharged 5.4-liter V8 to produce 540 horsepower. Visually the GT500KR is set apart by its aluminum 18-inch wheels, unique front and rear fascia and lightweight carbon fiber front splitter and hood. Production was limited to 1,571, the same number of cars produced in 1968.

2010 Shelby GT5002010 Shelby GT500 

The GT500 received a new look in 2010 along with the standard Mustang, but it was also upgraded to match the performance of the GT500KR. Output of the supercharged 5.4-liter V8 was changed to 540 horsepower and 510 lb-ft torque, and a variety of other changes made for a much improved car as well. SVT further developed the suspension system for better handling, a new clutch system provided better delivery of power to the 6-speed manual transmission, and a new shifter allowed for easier and quicker shifts.

2011 Shelby GT5002011-2012 Shelby GT500 

Development of the Shelby GT500 continued in 2011, with SVT replacing the heavy iron block supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with a new lightweight aluminum block unit. The suspension system was also revised to compensate for the reduced weight on the front of the car. For the first time SVT also offered a Performance Package for the GT500 that included Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, lightweight forged aluminum wheels, 3.73 gears and a performance-tuned suspension.

2013 Shelby GT5002013 Shelby GT500 

SVT shocked the automotive world with the launch of the all-new 2013 Shelby GT500 at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show. Producing 650 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque thanks to an increase in displacement to 5.8-liters and a larger TVS2300 supercharger system, the new Shelby GT500 is capable of reaching more than 200 mph. SVT also fine-tuned the suspension system at the famous Nurburgring race track in Germany to ensure that it handle with the world’s best supercars. New features for 2013 also include a Torsen limited-slip differential, a new Brembo brake system, a launch control system and slightly revised bodywork for improved aerodynamics.

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One Response to “SVT celebrates its 20th anniversary”

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