A Visual History Of Ford's SVT & Performance Vehicles
Created by Taylor Ward
Last Updated 10/13/2020
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History Of Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT)
Since it’s birth in 1992, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team has been producing high-performance exclusive vehicles that add spice, variety, and horsepower to their standard
lineup. Here at LMR we have always been a fan of Ford Performance’s limited production vehicles and have a few in our current stable. From the SVT Lightning to the
2000 Cobra R we have dedicated ourselves to the restoration and preservation of these top tier examples of Ford Engineering. Here we present you with a short visual
history of Ford’s SVT Program from the early SVO days to the all new 2020 Shelby GT500!
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1984-1986 Mustang SVO
The humble beginnings of Ford’s SVT Program started with the development
of the “Special Vehicle Operations” Mustang. Outfitted with a Fuel Injection
2.3L Turbo engine, this car was equipped with specially designed TRW
suspension and adjustable Koni Shocks. It had beefier sway bars and stiffer
springs and was the first Fox Body Mustang outfitted with 5-lug hubs and
many of the technologies used in this machine pushed Ford forward into it’s
next projects and the development of the “Special Vehicle Team.”
1993 Mustang Cobra
Unveiled alongside the 1993 F150 Lightning, the 1993 Cobra brought back
the legendary “Cobra” name and changed the face of the Mustang as we
know it. Equipped with a lightly massaged 5.0L V8 this Cobra came with
235hp and went 0-60 in 5.7 seconds offering an obvious step up from the
standard Mustang GT. This Mustang ended the Fox Body’s 14 year run on a
high point and created an iconic look that’s been mimiced by many since.
1993-1995 Ford Lightning
What followed the thunder of the 1993 Cobra? The 1993 Ford Lightning of
course! This souped up F150 meant business with a 5.8L 240hp engine
under the hood. Only avaliable in a single cab shortbed it featured a unique
front grille and lower fascia, side exhaust, and an exciting “Lightning” decal
adorning the bed! With a 0-60 of 7.2 seconds, Ford built this truck to haul
and we aren’t talking trailers. It was introduced in the height of the
“Mini-Truck” craze of the 90’s and did well in it’s market paving the way for
a second generation run and a performance truck scene to develop.
1993 Mustang Cobra R
In the later portion of the 1993 Cobra production run Ford introduced a
107 unit run of the track prepped “Cobra R” models. The Cobra R was race
tuned and track ready off of the lot and made way for future iterations of
corner carving SVT products. The R model came with no radio, no rear
seat, no gimmicks and no frills and was built specifically to see the apexes
of racetracks across the world. All you had to do was pick it up from the
lot and take it to the paddock!
1995 Cobra R
The 1994 body style change brought about a new Cobra that gained 5
horsepower from it’s 5.0 equipped predecessor and also featured a run of
Red Indy Pace Car convertibles. These, however, were nothing compared to
their 1995 Cobra R counterparts. Equipped with a 351c.i. V8 and 300hp it was
the most powerful Mustang of it’s day and that powerplant pushed it to a 14
second quarter mile in 1995. Replicas of the iconic wheels have been put on
every Mustang imaginable displaying the lasting effect of this track legend!
1995 Cobra R
Sharing the same style wheels as the 1995 Cobra R, the 1998 Cobra was a 4.6L 305hp beast with a top speed of 152mph off of the lot. This model shared the same body style and looks of the 1995, but featured the dual scooped hood and the vertical taillights that were adopted in 1996. 1998 saw the last year of the "SN-95" platform and passed the torch on to the sharper, crisp lines of the "New Edge" for the new millennium.
1999-2004 Ford Lightning
The SVT Lightning spans two generations of the Ford F150, but both have
the same goal: Make a performance pickup that looks great and has the
power to match. Here we see the second gen lightning with it’s regular
cab, stepside bed and iconic side exhaust. These trucks were equipped
with a supercharged 5.4L V8 producing 380hp in 2002 which allowed it to
become the “World’s Fastest Production Pickup” in August 2003!
2000 Cobra R
The third, and final, iteration of the Mustang Cobra R came in 2000 with
this wild, track slaying, icon. This car was made to go straight from the lot
to your nearest road course sporting an agressive front splitter, side
exhaust, and a large, adjustable, rear wing. Powered by a hand built 5.4L
DOHC V8 this Cobra made just shy of 400hp and coupled with full racing
suspension, 13” brembo brakes, and 18” aluminum wheels made this one
of the best handling Mustangs of all time.
The last of the Naturally Aspirated Cobras rolled off of the lot in 2001 with
the widely loved ‘01 Cobra! The first Mustang equipped with Independent
rear suspension, it was no slouch, making 320 horsepower! Mixing the best
styling from the GT and some unique touches of it’s own this car has become
an iconic look amongst New Edge Mustang lovers. Ford used the Canadian
“Amber” Taillights as well as the snarling front bumper to separate this
Cobra from the rest and both parts are extremely rare and highly desirable
in today’s modification market.
2003-2004 Cobra Terminator
The “Terminator” Cobra, with its 4V DOHC 4.6L Supercharged Modular
Motor, is the pinnacle of SVT Performance to many of it’s die hard fans and
it most definitely solidified it’s place at the top during it’s two year run.
Equipped with Independent Rear Suspension, this mustang handled like
no other and had menacing exterior upgrades that improved it’s appearance
from the previous models. This has become one of the most widely
cloned SVT Models and seeing a real specimen on the streets is still an
experience that will get your heart pumping!
2007-2009 Shelby GT500
In 2007 Ford renewed it’s partnership with the American motorsports
icon, Carroll Shelby, to produce a whole new generation of Shelby
Mustangs. This happens to be the 2008 GT500 Super Snake, named after
the 427 Shelby Cobra of the 1960’s. With only 1,000 specimens made of
this model It kept with the SVT’s tradition of rarity and the 725hp under
the hood made it highly desirable. Carroll Shelby called it “One of the
most balanced, fastest, fearsome muscle cars in the world.”
2012-2013 Boss 302
Harking back to one of Ford’s original performance Mustangs, the Boss 302
was a return to simplicity and purpose built performance. While it wasn’t an
SVT exclusive vehicle we figured we’d include it simply for it’s raw power
and cornering ability. You could have your Boss in base trim or in the
performance specific “Laguna Seca” model that pays tribute to one of
America’s most coveted racetracks. This Mustang was placed between the
base GT and the GT500 when it comes to performance, but takes the cake on
nostalgia alone. So much so that we at LMR built our own!
Shelby 1000 GT500
Before Carroll’s passing he wanted to see a 1000hp Mustang and he made
sure that the team at SVT and Shelby made it happen. Outfitted with a
strengthened unibody and a tubular chrome-moly front subframe, this car
was meant to handle the high-horsepower 5.4L Kenne Bell Supercharged
V8 nestled beneath the hood. Shelby wanted a street-legal Mustang that
would go 200mph without wild aerodynamic changes and this was it! You
could have your own for $150K plus the price of a base GT500, making
these vehicles extremely rare.
2016 Shelby GT350
After the huge redesign of the 2015 Mustang, everyone was waiting with
baited breath to see just what Ford and SVT had in store for the next
generation. And we must say that their new product doesn’t disappoint!
The 2015 GT350 is everything you’d want from a purpose built track
Mustang. It’s lighter, more aerodynamic, and more powerful with the all
new N/A Flat crank 5.2L V8. And did we mention it’s the first production
car with Carbon Fiber Wheels? With track tests still in progress and the
production models being completed we can’t wait to get our hands on one!
2020 Shelby GT500
Currently, the most talked-about Mustang is the all-new Shelby GT500. This is the most powerful Ford vehicle that is street-legal and it comes equipped with a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine and a TREMEC 7-speed transmission. Having a top speed of 186 mph, this precise build, and superior powertrain takes performance to the next level as the fastest straight-line production Mustang ever made.
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