Ford Special Vehicle Operations and SVT (Special Vehicles Team)
As you may have known it the golden age of American muscle cars came to a halt with the dawn of the 1970s. General depression, rising insurance costs for performance vehicles, skyrocketing fuel prices, and decisions of the legislators eventually put an end to the original muscle cars that we embraced.
The car industry was interested in making some profit as the demand for gas-guzzling began to take a nosedive. Top management of all American motor vehicle manufacturers were trying to provide cheaper and more reliable cars but failed at that miserably and this paved the road for the Japanese automobile manufacturers who by then were pioneers in building compact cheap to run, yet reliable, and well-built cars.
Soon the Japanese cars were what everyone wanted to have and soon Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan were dominating the compact car market. They were well built, less fuel consummating, reliable than the American cars, and cheaper as well.
Loss of profits leads to spending less money on innovations, research, and developments at American firms. Eventually, this resulted in an even more lack of demand. This is why so many American motor manufacturers went out of business. The 1970s and 1980s offered some of the most forgettable automotive creations that ever existed.
However, with the dawn of the 1980s, some manufacturers started to come with new ideas to lift the cloud of despair that governed their designing perspective following the aftermath of the 1970s general depression.
Soon the aerodynamic, better-engineered third-generation Camaro and Pontiac Firebird cars were making a comeback and the market embraced them with their arms wide open.
The four years old third-generation Ford Mustang GT was still a good performance car, but it wasn’t capable of achieving the top speed or 0-60 times of the original 1960s Mustangs.
Ford decided to create the special vehicle operations (SVO) group, which was led by Micahel Kranefuss, the former head of Ford’s German operations. Micahel Kranefuss is a genius and knew much about turbochargers and racing. He is credited with developing racing legends like Ford Capri, Ford Escort, and Ford Taunus.
1984 – 1986 SVO Mustang
The perfect recipe for American muscle cars was very simple. A big-block V8 mated with a manual Hurst shifter, with disc brakes for the rear wheels. All the best American muscle cars were created using this recipe. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Ford introduced the 4th gen Mustang GT in 1982. This was their first attempt to resurrect the original muscle car of the past. 1982 Mustang GT came with a 302 cubic inch 5-liter Cleveland V8, delivering 157 horsepower and did 0-60mph in just a little over 8 seconds.
However, the SVO Mustang was very different. SVO’s first vehicle the 1984 SVO Mustang had a more modern look with the improved aerodynamic front fascia, unique biplane rear wings, and a cool monochrome paint scheme.
The SVO Mustang also featured 16×7 inch alloy wheel rims with European spec Goodyear 225/50VR 16 NCT tires.
Under the hood was a turbocharge tiny four-cylinder engine.
The SVO Mustang was more sophisticated and was powered by a 2.3 liter (140 cubic-inch) four-cylinder engine mated with an AiResearch T3 turbocharger. An air-to-air intercooler under the hood scoop was added to cool down the power train. Electronically controlled fuel injection was integrated into the system as well.
With electronically controlled 14 psi of boost, the SVO Mustang generated 176 horsepower which maxed at 4400rpm. It also had a maximum torque of 210 lb-ft.
The quick-shifting manual five-speed gearbox with racing tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and driver-oriented interior delivered an excellent performance.
Even without a V8 engine, this four-cylinder SVO Mustang was capable of delivering blistering speed.
At $16,000 you could buy a new Mustang GT instead of an SVO Mustang, but SVO managed to gather a considerable dedicated following within the last few decades.
The four-cylinder engine was easy to maintain, the turbocharger gave extra power by increasing the efficiency and output of the engine by forcing extra compressed air into the combustion chamber rather than burning more fuel.
SVO Mustang is considered an important turning point in the evolution of the Ford Mustang. It was the first time a major American automotive manufacturer created a performance car powered by a smaller displacement, high revving, turbocharged engine with electronically controlled fuel injection
It was more than evident that the SVO Mustang was targeted at the Americans who were in the market for a Toyota Supra, Nissan Z series, or Mitsubishi Starion cars.
The SVO Mustang’s combination of advanced technology, unique appearance, better performance, and attractive price made it a worthy competitor to the already proven Japanese sports cars.
HotRod magazine mentioned the SVO Mustang as the best handling, most balanced Mustang ever sold.
Eventually, 4500+ cars were sold to customers.
1984 SVO Mustang was a well-received sale success. This convinced Ford to reintroduce SVO Mustang for the 1985 year as well.
The 1985 SVO Mustang was powered by the same 4-cylinder power train, but now the power output was 205 horsepower. It also came with Hurst shifted five-speed gearbox, improved aerodynamics, and aero headlights. The 1985 SVO Mustang was $1400 cheaper than the previous year’s model as well.
Motor Trend magazine raced the 1985 SVO Mustang against a V8 powered Camaro IROCZ and found out that both cars ran the laps at almost identical speeds despite the mechanical dissimilarities.
After driving both cars, they came to the conclusion that the Camaro felt outdated when compared to the SVO Mustang. They were impressed with the high revving, 4-cylinder engine, and the improved handling of the SVO Mustang.
1951 SVO Mustangs were sold as 1985 model year cars. Another 3378 cars were made and sold as 1986 SVO Mustangs.
1986 marked as the last year for the SVO Mustang due to lack of demand.
1993 SVT Cobra
After the development and production of the ill-fated Mustang SVO, the SVO team remained as the aftermarket performance parts group of Ford Motors. Then in 1991, the SVO morphed into a new subdivision called SVT. Special Vehicles Team (SVT) was founded by Niel Ressler, vice president of research and vehicle technology, and Robert Rewey, vice president for Marketing and Sales.
The vision behind the SVT was to assemble talented motorsport enthusiasts at Ford and some of its key suppliers into a small, cross-functional team of engineers, marketers, and product planners with a common goal of creating performance vehicles to satisfy the desires of the veteran driving enthusiasts.
At the 1992 Chicago Auto Show, SVT introduced the first result of their long brainstorming sessions, the 1993 SVT Cobra.
1993 Ford Mustang would be the last year of the third generation Mustangs, ending the fourteen-year production run. SVO wanted to make the last third-generation Mustang the best.
The 1993 SVT Cobra came with a 5.0-liter V8 with GT40 heads, GT40 upper and lower intake, 24-pound injectors, a 70mm MAF, a 65mm throttle body, crane cast aluminum 1.7 roller rockers. These modifications increased the output to 235 horsepower, and 280 lb.-ft of torque. In comparison, the 1993 Mustang delivered only 205 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft of torque.
SVT Cobra achieved 060mph in 5.7 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating cars of the time.
Unique body moldings, a special rear bumper and a grille with the running horse emblem, a unique spoiler and SVO style taillights, 17×7.5 seven-spoke alloy wheels were added to the package to improve the looks.
SVT Cobra came equipped with four-wheel disc brakes and the suspension was upgraded with Tokico shocks and struts.
It was available in three color schemes. Black Clearcoat, Vibrant Red, and Teal metallic.
It was evident that the SVT Cobra was made to compete against the Z28 Camaro, the top-performing muscle car at the time. But, the Z28 Camaro was quicker in acceleration. It also won in terms of top speed, braking, handling.
The SVT Cobra scored well in terms of passenger comfort and utility and has improved its grip with the new 17-inch tires. It came with air conditioning and power equipment as standard.
Eventually, 4993 cars were made for the 1993 model year.
Ford also built 107 SVT Cobra R Mustangs in the same year. The SVT Cobra R was a track-ready car with a weight reduction treatment. Rear seats, radio, air conditioning, sound-dampening material were removed.
To improve the handling of heavy-duty MacPherson struts, Koni shocks and a front strut tower brace was added.
Larger brakes and unique three-spoke alloy wheels came as standard with the SVT Cobra R package.
The SVT Cobra R was intended for serious racers only and was only available in vibrant red.
SVT Cobra R is considered one of the rarest Ford Mustangs ever made. Since it was intended for track-oriented racing, most were abused and were given up when their purpose was over. So, not many are left in good condition. Nowadays, a decent example could cost you a six-figure sum.
1993 -1995 SVT Lightning
In America, excess outsells everything. Whether it’s fitness, relationships, money-making, education, housing, or automobiles, nothing outsold everything like the excess did.
The pickup truck was by any means a no exception. Pickup trucks with bigger output, better towing and hauling capabilities were preferred by the blue-collar workers and off-road enthusiasts alike due to the practicality and utilitarian capabilities they offered.
Inspired by the 1990-1993 Chevrolet 454 SS trucks and 1991 GMC Syclone sports trucks, Ford decided to introduce a new SVT product, the SVT Lightning. SVT Lightning was an abomination in the eyes of many because it was the result of an unholy union between an SVT Cobra and a Ford F 150. Ford F 150, America’s best-selling pickup truck was given a 5.8-liter (351 cubic-inch) Windsor V8 with GT40 heads and manifolds and a free-flowing exhaust. This power train setup delivered 240 horsepower with the help of an automatic four-speed gearbox. A tall 4.10:1 rear axle was included to improve further performance.
To improve aerodynamics, the truck was then lowered 2.5 inches in the rear with beefy springs, 1-inch stabilizer bars, Formula GP shocks, cast aluminum five-spoke wheels in Firestone Firehawk GTA tires, unique front air dam with fog lights completed the package.
Motor week magazine tested a Lightning truck and came to a conclusion that the SVT Lightning was handling nearly as well as the Mustang GT with excellent cornering grip and improved body roll. They also recorded 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds and quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds with a top speed of 86 mph.
Though the SVT Lightning was designed for racing and downright speed, it was still capable of haling 700 pounds in the bed or pulling a 5000-pound trailer. GMC Syclone could not do that.
SVT Lightning was available in Performance Red or Black color schemes. 5267 SVT Lightning trucks were sold for the 1993 model year.
For the 1994 model year, White color also became an option. Ford sold 4007 trucks that year.
1995 marked as the last year for the SVT Lightning due to lower demand. 2280 trucks were sold in 1995.
SVT Lightning was a fast sports truck with utilitarian capabilities intact unlike its arch-rival the GMC Syclone. It was a turning point in sports truck development and inspired future generations of sports trucks such as the Ford Raptor and Dodge RAM Rebel trucks.
1994 – 1998 SVT Cobra
Ford wanted to celebrate the Mustang car’s 30th birthday with the long-awaited replacement for the fifteen-year-old third-generation Mustang.
Though this was supposed to be an entirely new platform, Ford decided to update its existing Fox-body platform to cut costs. So, the new SN-95 Mustang was still based on a heavily updated Fox body platform. Ford claimed that 80% of this new car was new.
The fourth-generation Mustang also borrowed many design elements from the original Mustang such as the C pillar scallop, open grille with a pony badge, tri-bar taillights. Even the interior paid homage to the dual-cockpit interior of the 3rd generation car.
The stylish theme developed three styling themes. The first one was the Rambo, an aggressive design focused on performance. The second was the Arnold Schwarzenegger, a muscular-looking car. The third was Bruce Jenner, a modern design with sporty looks. The final design embraced many elements from these three themes but retained most from the Bruce Jenner theme.
1994 Mustang was Motor Trend Magazine’s car of the year and won many awards around the world.
Due to the sales success of the 1993 SVT Cobra, Ford decided to introduce an SVT version of the Mustang to full fill the needs of the performance-minded buyers.
Of course, the essential ingredient for an emotional driving experience is an engine capable of delivering power when needed and a chassis that balances the car to improve handling. To power, the Mustang Ford came with different engine packages.
Three color options were offered: Crystal white, Rio red, and Balck clearcoat.
All the SVT Cobra cars came with four-wheel disc brakes and 17×8 alloy wheels and Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires as standard.
For the first time, the SVT Cobra was also available as a convertible and the ragtop was selected as the pace car of the 70th Indianapolis 500.
Due to this, all the convertibles were known as the Indy 500 Pace Car Replicas. These cars came with a unique rear boot lid badge, a dash plaque, and Official Indy 500 Pace car graphics.
Motor Trend magazine reviewed the SVT Cobra in 1994 and pointed out that the new Mustang weighed 50 kg more than the 1993 SVT Cobra. Due to this, the performance was affected.
The 1993 SVT Cobra achieved 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds with a top speed of 97.4 mph. The 1994 SVT Cobra achieved 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds with a top speed of 95.4 mph.
They concluded that the engine of the 1993 SVT Cobra delivered strongly as the revs climbed up to the redline of 6000rpm. The 1994 SVT Cobra engine produced more torque but ran out of power above 5500 rpm.
Ford sold 5009 coupes and 1000 convertibles for the 1994 model year.
1995 SVT Cobra was mostly unchanged but had 5horsepower more.
SVT also created the R variant for the 1995 model year.
1995 SVT Cobra R
Just like the original 1965 Shelby GT 350R, the 1995 SVT Cobra R could actually perform in the track at the legendary Shelby Mustang level. Just like the GT 350R, Cobra R was a track-focused car.
Cobra R was powered by a 351 cubic inch engine based on the 5.8L Windsor V8 engine which was used earlier to power the SVT Lightning sports truck.
Suspension upgrades such as the bigger stabilizer bars, koni shocks were included to improve handling. It came with BF Goodrich racing tires.
Cobra R was a street-legal car
The 1995 SVT Cobra R came with a price sticker of $30,000. 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds and it ran the quarter-mile in 14 seconds with a top speed of 99mph.
Only 250 cars were made and now considered as one of the rarest Mustangs ever.
In total 11,017 Ford SVT Cobra cars were produced from 1994 to 1995.
A big engine update came in 1996. rather than updating their pushrod Windsor and Cleveland engines, they created a new overhead cam 4.6 liter (281 cubic-inch) Modular v8 to power its powerful car models. This Modular V8 became the power source of the Mustang. Lesser spec models were powered by a single overhead cam engine.
SVT Cobra came with a new double overhead cam four-valve engine. This small-displacement engine produced 305 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 4800rpm. This was a significant improvement when comparing with the 5.8L Windsor V8 engine which produced only 240 horsepower. 5.8L Windsor V8 was the power source of the SVT Lightning sports truck.
It was evident that the Ford was gunning after the Pontiac Firebird WS6 and Chevrolet Camaro SS as they also came with similar power output.
The new Cobra engines were hand-built at a Ford Factory at Romeo, Michigan.
This power train was then mated with a BorgWarner T50 transmission system to deliver smooth power delivery with nicely paced ratios.
Though the new generation Mustang was heavier than the old Fox-body Mustangs, this engine pushed the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds with a top speed of 102.1 mph. This is a remarkable speed even by today’s standards.
Ford sold 10,002 SVT Cobras in 1996 and another 10,049 in 1997, and another 8,654 in 1998. Not only this was a sales success, but it also outsold its two arch-nemesis Firebird WS6 and Camaro SS combined.
1999 – 2004 SVT Lightning
The first SVT Lightning was basically a brick-shaped conventional pickup truck with some performance-oriented modifications.
However, the F 150 pickup truck was replaced with an aerodynamic new generation pickup. It also came with a conventional independent suspension instead of the aged Twin I-beam front suspension used by the previous generation trucks.
The low-tech OHV V8 engines were replaced with Modular V8 engines with lots of cutting-edge features.
The introduction of the new pickup truck paved the way for the SVT team to build a new SVT Lightning sports truck.
The SVT team got their hands on a short wheelbase, the lightest F150 available, the single cab Flairside, to give the lightning a more sensual yet aggressive look.
The truck was given four-wheel disc brakes, the same brakes used in Ford F250. Lowered suspension, 18×9 five-spoke alloy wheels, and unidirectional Goodyear Eagle tires improved the handling a lot around corners.
SVT Lightning was given the supercharged SOHC 5.4L Triton V8 engine coupled with an Eaton gen IV blower pumped at 8psi through a water-to-air intercooler into the engine, delivering 300 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque.
The 4600-pound truck was capable of achieving 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds. It also handled well in the corners, making it a lot more practical.
The SVT Lightning was also capable of carrying a payload of800 pounds or tow a 5000-pound trailer.
SVT Lightning was available in the Black clearcoat, Bright red clearcoat, or Oxford white clearcoat. All the trucks came with a medium graphite cloth interior with leather accents. From 2000 on Silver Metallic color became an option. The true-Blue color option was added in 2002. Sonic Blue replaced True Blue in 2003, and Dark Shadow Gray became an option.
Ford sold 2000 SVT Lightning sports trucks in 1999. In 2000, another 4996 trucks were sold.
In 2001, Ford decided to give some performance upgrades to the SVT Lightning. A new intake manifold that increased the output of the engine to 380 horsepower, Monotube Bilstein shocks to improve handling, the passenger side shocks were repositioned in front of the axle to reduce axle wrap.
These upgrades increased the acceleration and top speed of the truck. The 2001 SVT Lightning was capable of achieving 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds.
It also received a nice style upgrade as well. New headlamps, corner lamps, fog lamps, tail lamps featuring clear lenses, and a third LED brake lamp. Front grille inserts got a redesign.
These upgrades made the already exciting package a lot more exciting. 6381 SVT Lightning sports trucks were made for the 2001 model year.
4726 sports trucks were sold in 2002.
In 2002, something interesting happened. A press release said that the Ford F150 SVT Lightning was certified by the Guinness World Records Ltd, as the fastest production pickup truck after reaching a top speed of 147 mph.
Ford built and sold another 8051 sports trucks in 2003 and 2004 model years combined before production ended.
Ford introduced a new generation F150 in 2005, but the SVT Lightning wasn’t brought back.
1999 – 2004 SVT Cobra.
The fourth-generation Mustangs were introduced back in 1994 and received their usual midlife styling upgrade in 1999. The new design was known as the new edge due to the styling cues it got from the Arnold Schwarzenegger theme. The 1999 SVT Cobra had a more aggressive Rambo looks.
Under the hood of SVT Cobra, the 4.6-liter dual overhead cam engine got a new tumble port cylinder design to improve combustion efficiency and increased power output to 320 horsepower redlined at 6000rpm.
Independent rear suspension, a feature available on high-end European cars back then, was also integrated into the SVT Cobra to improve handling and ride quality.
Car and Driver magazine did a review and concluded that despite the slight extra performance and slightly more aerodynamic looks, the SVT Cobra was slightly slower in terms of acceleration and top speed.
The previous SVT Cobra did the 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds and achieved a top speed of 153mph. New SVT Cobra did 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and achieved a top speed of 149mph.
Ford had to investigate this issue and several other complaints and on August 6th of 1999, stopped selling the Cobra.
The intake and exhaust manifold systems had to be redeveloped. So, the already sold Cobras were recalled and retrofitted. Despite this, Ford ended up selling 4040 coupes and 4055 convertibles for the 1999 model year.
To address some issues of the 1999 SVT Cobra, Ford’s management decided to suspend the production of SVT Cobra for the 2000 model year. But SVT went on to build 300 Cobra R track-focused cars that year.
SVT Cobra R came with an output of 385 horsepower. To deliver that kind of power, Ford used Carillo connecting rods, forged pistons, higher flow aluminum cylinder heads, Cobra 5.4-liter intake cams, tubular steel exhaust headers, low restriction two-piece intake manifold, a higher flow single bore 80mm throttle body, and a K&N air filter.
The independent rear suspension plus Bilstein shocks and struts and Brembo brakes make the car feel more readable and responsive in corners and it was less likely to oversteer than before.
The front bumper featured a removable splitter.
Five-spoke 18×9.5 alloy wheels and BFGoodrich G Force KD tires came as standard.
The Tremec T 56 six-speed transmission unit and Gerodisc hydro-mechanical differential with a 3.55:1 gear ratio made the shifting a lot smoother.
The 2000 SVT Cobra R, a track-focused road-legal car was capable of a 175.3 mph top speed, making it one of the fastest production cars at the time.
The SVT Cobra returned for the 2001 model year as well. Just as the 1999 SVT Cobra, it produced 320 horsepower at 6000rpm.
Eventually, 3867 coupes and 3384 convertibles were sold for the 2002 model year.
1999-2002 SVT Cobra was capable of running the quarter-mile in 14.10 seconds with a top speed of 101mph.
In 2002, Ford suspended production of the SVT Cobra again to work on something even more special.
Like they did with the third-generation Fox-body Mustangs, Ford wanted to give the fourth-generation Mustang a fitting farewell. The fourth-generation Mustang was the final iteration of the Fox family Mustangs. It was called the Terminator.
The 2003 and 2004 SVT Cobra looked even more menacing than the 1999 SVT Cobra due to the redesigned front and rear fascia, special rocker moldings, side scoops, and a new heat extraction hood.
But what made the 2003 SVT Cobra special was its supercharged 4.6L dual overhead cam engine. It wasn’t an easy task to create this engine by any means.
The engineers at the SVT had to replace the aluminum block with a cast-iron one to make sure that it was strong enough to contain the blast of an Eaton M112 supercharger pushing 8psi.
Stout forged Zolner pistons and Manley H beam connecting rods were also added to the package. An aluminum flywheel drove the TREMEC T 56 six-speed transmission to a 3.55:1 rear axle.
The independent suspension system was also modified with stronger 31 spline half shafts and redesigned upper and lower control arms to make it strong enough for the maximum output of the engine.
It was a fitting farewell to the final iteration of the Fox family Mustangs.
2005 – 2006 Ford GT
To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of its inception, Ford decided to create a truly special automobile. This paved the way for the return of the Ford GT.
Henry Ford II was known as the Deuce to his friends. The Deuce was a man of big dreams. Back in the 1960s, he led Ford motors on a journey to conquer motorsport events not only in the states but also on the international stage.
Winning Indianapolis 500 in 1965 and producing engines for the Lotus Formula One team was just the beginning of their journey.
Ferrari was suffering financial problems back then. Enzo Ferrari decided to sell his company to Ford Motors when Deuce offered to buy the company for a significant sum. Everything was going well and to finalize the deal Deuce and a team of Ford Motor’s top brass management and lawyers came to Italy to Mr. Enzo Ferrari, who turned up with just his lawyer.
However, at the very last minute, everything went south. Enzo didn’t want to give up the management of his racing team and this led to a heated argument. Angry Italian walked away from the room with his lawyer without finalizing the deal. Enzo was known for his colorful vocabulary when he was angry. Deuce considered this as a personal slight and therefore ordered his men to somehow create a good sports car to beat the Ferrari in Le Mans.
After overcoming many technical obstacles, Ford achieved a historic 1, 2, 3 finish of the Ford GT Mark II over the previous victor Ferrari in 1966. Ford was victorious again in 1967 with the advanced Ford GT Mark IV. Then the rules were changed and they were forbidden of using 427 cubic inch engines. But Ford managed to win the Le Mans in 1968 and 1969 with the Ford GT cars powered with 305 cubic inch engines.
To pay homage to the original Ford GT40, Ford decided to make a modern-day interpretation of the original car of the 1960s.
The new Ford GT40 was revealed in 2003 and wasn’t intended for racing. It would be a supercar intended for roads that carried the spirit of the Le Mans-winning Ford GT Mark II.
According to Neil Ressler, the head of the project for Ford GT, their benchmark was the Ferrari 360 Modena. They wanted to create a car that could beat the Ferrari again.
The new Ford GT was based on the original Ford GT Mark II, but it was a little bit taller and wider than the original car. The dimensions were increased to provide a more comfortable driving experience. The 1960s racers behind the wheel of the original Ford GT suffered from excessive lift due to lower downforce. To address this issue, Ford engineers worked so hard to increase downforce without altering the Mark II looks.
Ford decided to use their already proven supercharged 5.4 L Modular V8 that was developed for the SVT Cobra and Lightning sports truck. This 330 cubic inch engine produced 550 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque after some delightful modifications and it was hand-built at the Romeo plant.
Just like the original Ford GT, the new GT was also developed in a relatively short period of time. In just eighteen months, the Ford GT entered production as a 2005 model year car.
Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio was chosen as the primary assembly plant and Saleen Special Vehicles in Michigan was tasked with painting the cars. Ford Motor’s Wixom plant in Michigan was chosen for the installation of the drivetrain, electronics, and the completion of interior finishing.
Dan Gurney, the driver who co-drove the Mark II with A J Foyt in Le Mans to victory in 1966 was chosen to drive one of the earliest Ford GT prototypes. He told the Motor Trend magazine that the car felt balanced with predictable handling. Carroll Shelby also collaborated as a consultant on the project.
Ford GT hit the showrooms in 2005 and came with a $139,995 price tag. A high-quality McIntosh sound system, forged alloy wheels, racing stripes, painted brake calipers were available as options. A car loaded with these additional options was offered for $153,495, and many opted for this one due to the creature comforts and looks it provided.
In 2006, a Heritage Livery package was also offered. The Heritage Livery offered the blue and orange Gulf racing colors of the victorious 1968 – 1969 GT cars.
This limited-edition Ford GT Heritage Livery paint scheme is one of the most memorable looks in Ford racing history and customers were also allowed to add a number of their own choice on white roundels.
The car also paved a path to a future with modern engineering and manufacturing technology.
Production ended in 2006 due to lack of demand, with only 4038 Ford GTs built. This amount was a little bit shorter than the planned production of 4500 units.
Just like many other rare car models, it took some time for the vehicle’s significance to be felt. By 2010, the Ford GT cars were selling for twice the amounts their owners paid for them.
In 2013, a 2006 Ford GT equipped with Heritage Livery package with just 6 miles of mileage, was sold for more than $400,000.
Ford GT was capable of running the quarter-mile in 11.70 seconds with a top speed of 127.69 mph, making it one of the fastest production cars ever.
2007 – 2014 Ford Shelby G T500
When Ford decided to end the production of 4th generation Mustang, the last iteration of the Fox Family Mustangs, many fans feared that they will never see a new pony car due to the fact that developing a new platform just for the Mustang can cost a big amount of money.
Ford, reluctant to give up on their torch bearer, decided to start with a clean sheet of paper for its fifth-generation Mustang, codenamed S197. They wanted to capture the very essence of the original Mustang of the 1960s. So, the designing team took inspiration from the most famous and best Mustangs to make the new Mustang look better in every way possible.
It wasn’t an easy task to do, but somehow Ford engineers and designers managed to make the 2005 Mustang one of the best-looking American cars ever. Like the original Mustangs, the new Mustang also came with many different engine options and trim levels.
The most performance-oriented Mustang GT came with a three-valve single overhead cam 4.6L V8 engine instead of the four-valve four-cam Terminator engine of the previous generation. The new engine was less complex and cheaper to build without any significant compromises to the overall performance.
This new 4.6L V8 delivered 300 horsepower. This was more than enough to make it a decent performance car. But people wondered whether there will be another SVT Cobra or not.
Rather than building and marketing a new SVT Cobra, the Special Vehicles Team (SVT) and Carroll Shelby teamed up to give birth to a worthy successor to the original Shelby GT 500 of the 1960s.
In 2007 Ford Shelby GT 500 reunited Ford Motors with Carroll Shelby to reincarnate the long-gone Shelby Mustang. Shelby was also involved in the original Shelby GT 350 and GT 500.
Carroll Shelby personally piloted the prototypes and always kept himself in touch with the engineers, designers, project planners, and marketing division.
The new GT 500 proved to be a truly special car as it represented the best capabilities of the Ford Motors and Shelby Performance.
The bulging muscular hood and heat extractors pump hot air from the engine to the outside while generating enough downforce.
Wide lower fascia openings with a functional air splitter in the front. The upper intake features the pony emblem of the past Mustangs. A rear spoiler was used to reduce the aerodynamic lift. Cast aluminum alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires came standard with the GT 500. The alloy wheels were inspired by the original GT’s forged rims. 14-inch rotors and Brembo calipers were included to improve braking.
The Ford Shelby GT 500 was available as either a coupe or a convertible. It was evident that it was capable of beating a Chevrolet Corvette in a drag race.
Shelby GT 500 was powered with a 5.4L (330 cubic-inch) Modular V8 engine delivering a maximum output of 500 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 317 lb-ft of torque at 4500rpm.
It was capable of running the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph.
The Mustangs received their midlife styling update in 2011, and Shelby GT 500 got even more performance from its supercharged 5.4 L V8 engine with a maximum output of 550 horsepower redline at 6000rpm and 510 lb-ft of torque at 4500rpm.
2014 marked the last year of the fifth-generation Ford Mustangs. To bid farewell in a fitting manner, Ford decided to offer the best GT 500 variant for its final year.
The most powerful engine Ford has built in-house, a 5.8-liter V8 delivering 662 horsepower was handcrafted at the Ford Motor’s Romeo production line. GT 500 also got SVT-designed Bilstein electronic dampers as standard.
For $54,800, the Shelby GT 500 delivered supercar performance.
Shelby GT 500 also came with a factory warranty unlike cars provided by many aftermarket performance providers.
The last GT 500 provided more character and uniqueness over the expensive Corvettes.
2010 – Present Ford F 150 SVT Raptor
The Ford F 150 SVT Raptor is by any means no ordinary vehicle. The Raptor is based on the full-size F 150 pickup truck, the Americas best-selling vehicle.
Though there were sports trucks like GMC Syclone, Chevrolet 454 SS trucks, and SVT Lightning, none of them were capable of pulling off the tricks that Raptor hid in its sleeves.
The Raptor is highly off-road-capable making it different from the likes of all the sports trucks before. The GMC Syclone and Chevrolet 454 SS trucks had limited utilitarian capabilities and only the SVT Lightning could haul or tow a significant payload. SVT Lightning wasn’t off-road capable either.
SVT planned on doing another SVT Lightning sports truck but after thorough market research, SVT decided to create something different. Many Ford truck owners were openly spending thousands of dollars on aftermarket parts to improve off-road capabilities.
According to the Ford Senior Exterior Designer, Bruce Williams, they wanted to emphasize the width of the vehicle, the formations of the vehicle and they wanted to give it the looks of a serious off-road truck.
The Exterior Design team decided to get rid of all the chrome parts and decided to improve the suspension to support serious off-road capabilities while maintaining serious speeds.
The suspension was modified and eventually given a 12.1 inch of ground clearance, which is 2.2 inches taller and 6.6 inches wider than a standard F 150 truck.
35-inch LT315/70R17 tires and four-wheel disc brakes provided more grip and improved traction.
SVT fitted Raptor with Fox Racing shocks with remote reservoir and internal fluid bypass on either side of the rear axle, and a similar single Fox Shox was provided in the front. This ultimately gave the Raptor 11 inches of front suspension travel and 12 inches in the rear. To provide a smoother ride, the long-travel suspension design was given a redesigned rear leaf springs and the front upper and lower A-arms were designed.
The rear axle had a locking differential with a 4.10:1 gear ratio with an open differential front axle.
In 2012, the open front axle was replaced with a Torsen helical gear limited-slip differential.
The engine options were either a 5.4L Modular 3 valve V8 and a 6.2L Boss V8 engine. When the Raptor was unveiled in 2010, the 5.4L V8 was offered as the standard and the 6.2L Boss V8 was an option. From 2011, the 6.2L Boss V8 became the standard engine for the Raptor.
All the Raptors came with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
The 6.2L Boss V8 engine delivers 411 horsepower at 5500rpm.
Due, to the massive amount of torque and horsepower provided by the engines, the Raptor could accelerate faster than many muscle cars of the past.
The SVT F 150 Raptor was equipped with an anti-locking brake system, stability control. To maximize its off-road capabilities as well as on-road capabilities, SVT equipped the Raptor with several design features to maximize traction and control.
Ford F 150 Raptor became the first Ford-produced vehicle to come with hill descent control. Raptor was designed to use the ABS to minimize the driver modulation of the brakes to increase control of the steering.
In off-road mode, the Raptor can be driven with traction control if you select sport mode. Full off-road mode shuts down all the electronic intervention except ABS.
To match the widened track and upgraded suspension, the Raptor received many changes to its exterior such as a unique front fascia, wider fenders, grill-mounted clearance lamps, a composite hood.
To further make it more unique, Ford decided to replace the Ford badge on the grille with FORD lettering.
The cargo bed was redesigned to accommodate the wider track, wider tires, and upgraded suspension. The bed also shortened to 5.5 feet in length to improve the departure angle.
When off-roading the Raptor’s speed was electronically limited to 100 miles per hour. 100mph is still an unbelievable speed for a full-size pickup truck.
To test whether all the things were working fine without any reliability issues, Ford engineers kept testing the Raptor in desert areas such as sandy washes and steep climbs in deep sand.
It was more than evident that Ford F 150 Raptor doesn’t even break a swear as it speeds through deeply rutted slit beds and tough road terrains. A normal pickup truck wouldn’t offer such a smooth and reliable ride quality over such extreme terrains, but the F 150 Raptor managed to do just that.
American Motor Companies were always known for quality control and build quality issues, but Ford has managed to offer vehicles with good build quality in recent years. SVT division went further to improve build quality and after-sales services to keep their enthusiast fan base happy.
Raptor is very comfortable and stable in normal driving while offering decent handling for such a big pickup truck. At the 100mph limit, the handling can be a little bit alarming according to Motor Trend magazine.
The 2010 Ford Raptor changed the benchmarks of performance forever. Other trucks may have succeeded in acceleration and top speed, but none of those had the off-road or utilitarian capabilities of the Ford Raptor. It is the only factory-built high-speed off-road truck ever in American history.
The Raptor was supposed to be something completely different from the SVT Lightning pickup truck, and it didn’t sell like the Lightning as well. SVT Lightning was designed and marketed at a niche market. It was supposed to be faster and utility or off-road capabilities were not much of a concern.
The Raptor was targeted at off-road enthusiasts, people who were spending thousands of dollars on aftermarket automotive parts to improve the off-road capabilities of their trucks. Ford F150 Raptor offered excellent build quality, reputable off-road capabilities with a smooth ride, and utilitarian capabilities that cannot be rivaled by any other pickup truck manufacturer.
For 2010, the Raptor was offered in four colors: blue flame, molten orange, oxford white, and tuxedo black. Digital mud vinyl decal was offered as an option.
The first Raptor to be ever produced was a molten orange with digital mud graphics. It was sold for $130,000 at an auction with all proceeds above the retail price going to charity.
Due to this, in 2010, 10,437 Raptors were sold. In 2010, only the two-door Super Cab version was offered.
In 2011, Ford F 150 SVT Raptor added a Crew Cab option that eventually outsold the two-door model by more than 30,000 units. Crew Cab was more practical for families. In 2011, Raptor was available with another color option, the Ingot Silver metallic.
Due to the ever-increasing demand, Ford decided to increase the production of the Raptor to meet the market demand.
7517 Super Cabs and 37090 Crew Cabs were sold from 2011 to 2013.
In 2014, Ford introduced the thirteenth generation F series pickup truck and due to this SVT decided to stop the production of SVT F 150 Raptor embrace the new generation F 150 as its base.
So, they decided to provide the best first-generation F 150 Raptor at last.
In 2014, a Raptor Special Edition was released and it added unique touches like the new Ruby red metallic exterior color, updated exterior and interior graphics, and decals.
Following the introduction of the thirteenth generation F 150 back in 2014, the Raptor model production was halted until 2017.
Second Generation raptor was unveiled as a pre-production vehicle in 2015 at the 2015 Detroit International Auto show and was eventually announced for the 2017 model year.
SVT’s name was dropped and the second-generation Raptor was simply known as the Ford Raptor.
Just like the standard Ford F 150 pickup truck, the Raptor is an aluminum-intensive vehicle and was produced using steel primarily for the frame rails, and compared to the SVT Raptor, the second-generation Ford Raptor got its curb weight reduced over 500 pounds.
A carbon composite hood, unique front fascia, wider fenders, redesigned cargo bed to improve departure angle, FORD lettered grill instead of the grill with the Ford emblem on it, clearance lamps mounted in the grille makes the Ford Raptor stand out from the standard F150 pickup truck.
The second-generation Ford Raptor is also offered in both two-door SuperCab and four-door SuperCrew variants.
The first generation’s famous digital mud vinyl decal was replaced with a large black decal on the pickup bed. An additional option was offered to add a black FORD lettered tailgate decal as well.
Just like the first-generation SVT Raptor, the second-generation Ford Raptor retained Fox Racing internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs and internal fluid bypass.
With larger 3-inch shocks (2.5 in previous generation Raptor), the ground clearance was also increased to 13-inch in the front and 13.9 in the rear.
A new transfer case, a torque-on-demand system, on-demand all-wheel drive with a four-wheel-drive system was also included in the package.
The widened track was complemented with a leaf-sprung rear axle and upper and lower A-arms for front axle.
The engine powering the second-generation Raptor is a 3.5L D35 twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine. This power plant was then mated with a 10 speed 10R80 automatic transmission system
For the 2019 model year, Fox Racing shocks with live valve capability was offered instead of the older Fox Racing Shocks. This update allowed the Raptor to automatically adjust for the terrain.
The 35-inch all-terrain tires were equipped to 17-inch wheels (35-inch LT315/70R17). These tires were a rare option for a mass-produced vehicle. Ford also offered Beadlock wheels to prevent tire bead separation from the wheel at low pressures.
The older generations 5.4L Modular 3 valve V8 and the 6.2L Boss V8 engines were replaced with a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine.
The twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is as a matter of fact is actually a detuned version of the engine used to power the Ford Mustang GT. This engine was mated with a 10 speed 10R80 automatic gearbox. This power train is delivering 450hp which is a significant increase over the previous generation Raptor’s 411hp produced by the thirstier 6.2L Boss V8 engine. The new engine delivers 691Nm of torque as well.
Second Generation Ford Raptor became the first non-commercial vehicle to be fitted with a 10-speed transmission of any time.
Standard equipment such as the instrument cluster display, 360-degree camera system to help off-roading, electric power seats, dual-zone manual air conditioning, sunroof, multi-function steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, cross-traffic alert, Terrain management system, blind spot information system, etc. The trailer tow package and all-weather floor mats also improve the utilitarian capabilities even more.
Sutton CS 3500
A locally assembled F 150 Raptor was unveiled in Malaysia under Sutton CS 3500 moniker. This is basically a Ford F 150 locally assembled in Malaysia which then undergoes a right-hand conversion developed by Clive Sutton’s Bespoke division.
Only the SuperCrew option is offered and an optional Monster Intercooler package can increase the engine output to 520hp and 827Nm of torque.
2019 – present Ford Ranger Raptor
Ford F 150 pickup truck is the best-selling pickup truck in North America, but the American demands for automobiles are vastly different from what the rest of the world is demanding.
Full-size American pickup trucks are usually getting registered in the European countries and Asian countries as a lorry.
Due to the narrow roads, parking difficulties, and huge traffic around every European and Asian capital cities, the demand for such big vehicles is really low.
Toyota Hilux which has virtually no presence in the US, is the best-selling pickup truck in the rest of the world, closely followed by the Mitsubishi L200 (Triton), and Nissan Navara.
Though the Ford Ranger is a decent pickup that is famous in some European countries, it cannot outperform the special edition pickup trucks such as the Toyota Hilux Revolution, Mitsubishi L200 Animal, etc.
Ford introduced the Ford Ranger Raptor for the 2019 model year and this is based on the Ranger T6 mid-size pickup truck.
The raptor package is slotted above the Wildtrak performance package for the Ford Ranger.
The Ford Ranger Raptor is also fitted with an improved suspension and chassis upgrades to make it more off-road capable. The Ranger Raptor is coming with a widened track and increased road clearance as well.
Ranger Raptor is powered by a 2.0L EcoBlue bi-turbo diesel engine coupled with a 10-speed automatic transmission, delivering 210hp. This power train is also present in Ford Transit and Ford Everest SUV.
The Ranger Raptor is not wide enough to require mandated clearance lights.
Ranger Raptor also comes with gray six-spoke wheels, a large Ranger Raptor vinyl decal on the sides of the cargo bed, and FORD lettered grill instead of the grill with the Ford emblem.
The Ranger Raptor is available in all the markets excluding the United States.
If Ford decided to offer the Ranger Raptor in the US, then it would become a direct competitor to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
The exclusion is probably because of the risk of model overlap with the larger F 150 Raptor, which has a huge demand exceeding supply.
The power train used in Ranger Raptor, the 2.0L EcoBlue diesel engine is not yet approved by the US emission regulations. This EcoBlue engine offers a similar output to the regular 2.3L EcoBoost petrol engine found in Ranger pickup trucks. A redesign of the engine to offer more power was scrapped out due to higher RND costs.
It is unlikely that this generation Ranger Raptor would be offered in the US due to the aforementioned reasons.
2015 – present Ford Shelby GT350
The sixth-generation Ford Mustang was introduced in 2015. Dave Pericak, the lead engineer of the sixth-generation Mustang, pointed out that they did add so many modifications to match the performance targets demanded by the customers.
The new Mustang has a curb weight of 3,524 to 3611 pounds. Though the Mustang is significantly heavier than many foreign performance cars, it is still lighter than the Chevrolet Camaro or the Dodge Challenger.
Ford also announced a new Shelby, the Shelby GT350, a track-focused street-legal car powered with a new engine called Voodoo.
Just like the sixth-generation Mustang, the Voodoo engine is also a clean-sheet design.
Many expected that the new Shelby would get the venerable V8 motor which powered the 2015 Mustang Shelby GT500. The V8 engine producing 662 horsepower was passed on for this mysterious new engine.
The GT350 was developed as a world-class sports car with the help of track racing enthusiasts and some of the most talented engineers at Ford with previous racing experience.
The 315 cubic-inch V8 Voodoo engine is Ford’s first attempt at the use of a racing-derived flat-plane crank and a maximum output of 526 horsepower made it the most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever created by Ford. The 8250 rpm redline is also the highest rpm for any Ford made engine. This engine also possesses an extremely wide torque curve and delivers 90 percent of the performance in between 3450rpm and 7000rpm.
The Voodoo engine’s 180-degree crankshaft creates an infernal howling noise.
This engine delivers only 526 horsepower and it has a maximum torque of 429lb-ft. Which is significantly lower than the 662-horsepower delivered by the 2015 Mustang Shelby GT500 car’s supercharged V8 engine.
The 662 horsepower V8 engine used in the Shelby GT500 was the world’s most powerful production V8, and the aerodynamic improvements, braking upgrades made it an outstanding sports car.
The superchargers are efficient in delivering more power, but they are heavier and adds up another 300 pounds to the final curb weight. Mustang being a front-engine car, adding up that kind of weight over the front axle would result in poor handling.
Besides that, the sixth generation Mustang was lighter than the previous generation Mustang, meaning it needed less power to deliver more.
The GT350 also used the latest independent rear suspension technologies and its superior weight distribution made it easier to handle than the previous Shelby GT500.
The Shelby GT350 received advanced aerodynamic upgrades to increase the downforce and cooling airflow. All the bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350. The suspension was lowered up to 2 inches from the original ride height.
Road and Track magazine did compare the previous generation’s Shelby GT500 with the new Shelby GT350. The Shelby GT500 was all about speed and acceleration, but the GT350 is taking a different approach with the aerodynamic oriented bodywork, a naturally aspirated V8 with the flat-plane crankshaft, fully independent rear suspension, etc.
According to their conclusion, the GT350 is set to redefine Muscle cars including the Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
A few months later the Ford unveiled the Shelby GT350R and it was 130 pounds lighter than the Shelby GT350 Performance package and came equipped with 19-inch carbon-fiber wheels which further reduced the weight by up to 52 pounds. The Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires came as the standard and the revised suspension came with many changes including lower ride height, and track-focused settings and features including the MagnetRide programming.
Only 100 Shelby GT350 cars and 37 GT350R cars were built in 2015.
The Shelby GT350 can run the quarter-mile in 12.50 seconds with a top speed of 117mph. The GT350R variant performed even better with a quarter-mile time of 12.20 seconds with a top speed of 119mph.
Carroll Shelby, the American racing driver, performance enhancer, and the founder of the Shelby Performance company that worked with Ford Motors to give birth to iconic Boss 429, Boss 302, Shelby Cobra, Ford GT, Ford GT40, and Shelby GT500, passed away in 2012.
Though he was never able to witness the prowess of the Shelby GT350 or the GT350R, this marked as the final performance project authorized by himself, only few months before his death.
The Shelby GT350 is by the very essence, represented Carroll Shelby’s original idea of transforming a great every-day car into a dominant road racer.
All the Voodoo engines were hand made by the employees of Ford Motors and Shelby Performance. The Shelby Mustang engines as well as the SVT engines were produced and hand-assembled at Ford’s Romeo, Michigan plant.
The craftsman also signed the plaque on the valve cover of each engine they build.