The Legend and Legacy of the Cobra R
A GMfan1111/Fomoconews retrospective editorial
Cobra R, what does one think when that name crosses there mind? Some will probably think that the R models were a waste of money and had a limited Clientele. To many Mustang enthusiasts they represent the holy grail of both the fox body and SN 95 platform ponies. Either way the R models represent a unique chapter in Mustang history. Granted the world is perhaps most familiar with the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R the last of the R breed and perhaps the most potent SN-95 car ever built by Fords Special Vehicles Team.
However letís not forget the two models that led up to the 2000 version. The 1993 Cobra R which helped start it all and the often forgotten but still potent 1995 version. The 1993 Cobra R was powered by the familiar 5.0 liter V8 but the mad scientists at SVT utilized plenty of suspension, weight reduction techniques, and engine tweaks to help turn the cobra into a track friendly beast. Despite the original Rs low 107 total production units the model was a sales success and inspired SVT to create a sequel in 1995.
Unlike the 1993 version the 1995 variant utilized a brand new 5.8 liter variant of the Windsor engine and new purpose built styling. In addition more units were made for a total of 250. However the original formula of suspension upgrades, engine tweaks, and weight reduction that made the original R a sensation out on the race track was kept intact for 1995. The result was another sales success which gave SVT good reason to prepare one final R version just in time for the new millennium.
These days finding a Cobra R from any generation is a very difficult task in itself. All three generations of Cobra R were built in very limited numbers (A scant 300 units for the 2000 version) and even fewer for the first two generations of Cobra R. However when you do succeed in finding one of these rare ponies its certainly worth the wait and effort.
So what is it like sitting in a Cobra R? For one thing itís a very unique unforgettable experience. Sitting yourself in the very supportive Recaro seats of the 2000 Cobra R for example makes you feel as if you have slipped into something truly one of a kind. The overall layout of the interior will be familiar to SN-95 GT and Cobra owners but the lack of amenities such as a radio, sound deadening equipment, air conditioning, (my photo car had AC to deal with the Michigan winters) and even a backseat tell you that this isnít your typical GT or Cobra model. Rather this is a bare bones no chumps allowed piece of art that is only built for one thing, and that is to race.
Even the exterior styling makes that intent loud and clear. To the untrained eye the bold exterior pieces will look gaudy and over the top but look closer and youíll see that each part (spoiler included) serves a distinct purpose. Whether its keeping the rear wheels planted during track runs or just keeping the whole car from going off the track each part has a purpose. And that is something that not too many cars or even recent mustangs have that sense of distinctiveness and purpose that makes there drivers proud owners.
Unfortunately I was not allowed to drive car number 107 but just being able to see this car up close and personal was a unique experience that I will never forget. Granted the Cobra R has long been surpassed in potency by later models of Mustang (the all new 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 makes even more horsepower than it) but the 385 horsepower 5.4 liter V8 can still hold its own in todayís world and has no problem making other cars cower in fear whether its leaving wannabe teen racers and their civics in the dust in a stoplight to stoplight duel or running laps around your rival at the local road course.
When it all comes to it what legacy has the Cobra R established during each of its three brief appearances? For starters it gave SVT the chance to show the world that it could produce a world class performance machine that could win races for its buyers and still meet the Homologation requirements. It also gave civilian drivers the chance to own a truly unique car that is a guaranteed collectors item on and off the track and that is something few cars can boast about these days and thatís what makes the Cobra R truly unique
I will like to end things here by saying a big thank you to the management at Suburban Ford in Sterling Heights Michigan for allowing me to see and photograph the Cobra R featured in this editorial. the manager of there used car division was very kind and helpful during my Time with the Cobra R
Here's a link to there posting for the R that has more pictures including photographs of the cars official paper work