Re-establishing the Mustang as a performance vehicle, the Mustang Cobra was produced by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team. SVT’s goal was to create a faster, better riding and handling Mustang that looked better and more aggressive. This limited edition Mustang was the perfect combination of high powered V8 performance and chassis tuning wrapped in a subtle design package.
Summary & Background
The Cobra was the first vehicle designed and engineered by Ford’s newly formed Special Vehicle Team (SVT) department. SVT took over production car tuning duties from the SVO department so that they could concentrate on their racing efforts and the development of over the counter performance parts. Despite the Mustang SVO’s disappointing sales numbers years earlier, the management at Ford Motor Company was generally pleased with the car itself and decided it was time to introduce another specialty Mustang into the marketplace. This time however the car would have a rip-roaring V-8 engine under the hood.
The 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra was launched during the 1992 Chicago Auto Show. It was the premier vehicle of Ford’s newly established SVT division, designed to showcase SVT’s four hallmarks of Performance, Substance, Exclusivity and Value. The exterior of the 1993 SVT Cobra did not represent a radical departure from the year’s GT model. The true redesign and upgrade occurred beneath the bodywork starting with the powertrain that was driven by a highly modified 302 CID V8 (5.0L) V-8 was rated at 235 horsepower and 280 ft/lbs. torque. A total of 4,994 Cobras were produced for street use, while 107 Cobra “R” models were produced for showroom stock racing.
All Cobras adhered to the same basic formula using a tuned version of the 5-litre H.O. V-8 in combination with special suspension tuning and backed up by a manual transmission all stuffed into a hatchback body. Ford’s 5.0L engine used in the GT Mustang had many modifications done to it before being fit into the Cobras. Among these changes were higher-performance GT40 cylinder heads, larger valves, and a stouter camshaft. The same Borg-Warner T-5 transmission found on the GT was used for the Cobras, except it came with phosphate-coated gears as well as stronger bearings. Goodyear Eagle P245/45ZR17 tires were mounted on 17×7.5 inch aluminum wheels. Also on the Cobra were rear vented disc brakes instead of the standard drum brakes.
The heart of the Cobra was a new higher-output, modified Cobra 302 V8. It used lots of fun parts from Ford’s own Motorsport parts bin. Like we mentioned it produced 235 horsepower though many think that was a conservative number.
It got a hotter camshaft that was installed and actuated a set of aluminum roller-rocker arms that were specifically designed for use in the Cobra. Those rocker arms were installed in a pair of GT40 cylinder heads that featured larger valves and a better intake port design that improved engine breathing. Sitting a top the heads was a GT-40 lower intake manifold and a special tubular cast aluminum upper intake modeled after the GT-40 upper manifold. Controlling the amount of air allowed into the engine was a larger 65-millimeter throttle body in place of the 60-millimeter unit use on regular H.O. spec engines. Fuel delivery was handled by higher volume 24lb/hr fuel injectors that could better take advantage of the increased volume of air that the engine could ingest. An underdrive crankshaft pulley was installed for more power but in order keep an adequate flow of coolant through the engine the water pump pulley was appropriately up-sized.
With the increased engine output of the new Mustang SVT Cobra, the Borg-Warner World Class T-5 transmission needed an internal upgrade, which allowed it to yield a higher torque capacity compared to the standard World Class T-5. This upgrade consisted of custom gearing 1- 3(which were reduce 10% and hardened), 4th/5th (just hardened) gear was the same as standard T-5s found in the LX/GTs. The clutch for the Cobra was increased holding capacity by way of a higher clamping force pressure plate using the same 10.5″ diameter as the GT/LX. The Cobra outsourced production of shocks and struts to the aftermarket manufacturer Tokico. The components used were specifically valved for the new car. Part Numbers: F3ZZ-18124-A (front struts), F3ZZ-18125-A (rear shocks).
An abundance of attention was placed upon the suspension and brakes of the Cobra. In what might seem as a move backwards the Cobra was equipped with softer springs front and rear and a thinner anti-roll was employed in the front. This improved the ride remarkably however SVT engineers made certain that the Cobra could corner with confidence with some other improvements. Shocks and struts were specially valved units from Tokico and wheels and tires grew in size. Wheels were 17×7.5-inch directional aluminum with different castings for the left and right sides. These wheels were the largest diameter wheels ever fitted to a Mustang to that point and realized the desires of SVO engineers from years earlier to install a 17-inch wheel and tire package on the Mustang. Tires were now huge 245/45ZR17 Goodyear’s that offered copious amounts of grip. By softening the suspension and adding a massive wheel and tire package the engineers created a Mustang that actually handled better in real world situations. This is because the car would not hop, skip and crash over bumps in the road therefore providing better tire contact on rough pavement. A better ride was a wonderful bonus.
With the exception of the SVO, all Fox body Mustangs suffered from sorely inadequate braking systems. The engineers at SVT wanted the 1993 Cobra to be an exception to that rule. The front ventilated disc brakes from the GT were retained in the Cobra but the rest of the system was tossed. At the rear the Cobra received a set of 10.07-inch discs that were sourced from the 1987-1988 Thunderbird turbo Coupe. A larger brake booster was added to help cope with the extra stopping power. Finally the Mustang had been given the four-wheel disc brakes it had cried out for, even if it was on a limited production car.
Note:Ford part numbers are listed below. In many cases Ford has two separate numbers for each part, the Ford production number (the fourth character is a Z), and an engineering number. The engineering number is usually what is stamped/cast on the part itself (the fourth character is E for engine parts, F for electronics, and C for chassis).
Engine Specs & Codes
The 1993 SVT Cobra’s short block (cylinder block, crankshaft, rods, and pistons) was carried over from the GT model. To this, Ford SVT engineers added the following performance items:
Cylinder Heads: GT-40 “High Flow” Cast Iron heads were installed. They were milled for 62.5 cc combustion chambers. Valves measure 1.84″ (46.7 mm) intake, and 1.54″ (39.1 mm) exhaust. The valves are actuated by Cobra-specific 1.7 ratio roller rockers, constructed of aluminum and produced for Ford by Crane Cams. Part Numbers: F3ZZ-6049-B (head), F3ZZ-6507-A (intake valve), F3ZZ-6505-A (exhaust valve), F3ZE-6529-AB (rockers).
Intake Manifold: The Cobra upper manifold was unique to the 1993 Cobra and had a 2.75″ (70.0mm) diameter round throttle body opening, diverting air into (8) round staggered ports, each 1.64″ (41.7 mm) diameter. The lower manifold was identical to the GT-40 manifold used by Ford Racing; it redirects airflow to a rectangular port configuration as needed by the cylinder heads. Part Numbers: F3ZZ-9424-C (upper manifold),F3ZZ-9424-D (lower).
Camshaft: The cam is of the hydraulic roller type (same as the GT). However, the Cobra cam has unique specifications of 0.479″/0.479″ (12.2 mm/12.2 mm) intake/exhaust lift, (209°/209°) duration at 0.050″ (1.27 mm), and a lobe separation of 118.3°, Part Number: F3ZE-6250-CA.
Air/Fuel Delivery: The increased airflow and fuel consumption of the Cobra required these upgraded components: Larger (compared to the GT) 24 lb/hr fuel injectors, 2.75″ (70.0 mm) MAF meter, 2.56″ (65.0 mm) throttle body, and matching EGR plate handle the increased breathing of the motor. A specially calibrated X3Z EEC-IV engine control unit runs the system. Part Numbers: F1TZ-9F593-C (injectors), FIZF-12B579-AA (meter), F3ZF-12A650-CA (ECU).
Accessories: The crankshaft pulley diameter decreased by 14% (as compared to the GT) in order to under-drive the alternator, A/C, and smog pump, all to increase power. The water pump pulley also decreased in diameter by the same amount in order to preserve the ratio of pump speed, and thus coolant flow. These smaller accessory pulleys necessitated a shorter serpentine belt. Part Numbers: F3ZZ-6A312-A (crank pulley), F3ZZ-8509-A (water pump pulley), F3ZZ-8620-A (belt).
Exhaust: To extract the maximum amount of power from the Cobra’s powerplant, Ford engineers used tuned mufflers with lower restriction (as compared to the GT). While the factory headers and H-pipe remained the same, the tailpipes were similar to that of a Mustang LX 5.0L (Sport) model in that they had straight stainless steel tips (instead of turn-down tips on the GT). This is because the Cobra had a revised rear fascia, allowing (unlike the GT) for an exposed dual exhaust. Part Numbers: F3ZZ-5230-A, stamped F3ZC-5230-CC (RH muffler), F3ZZ-5230-A, stamped F3ZC-5232-DC (LH muffler)
Exterior & Interior
The Cobra featured more subdued styling than the GT, and the only exterior colors offered were (color codes are in parentheses) Black Clearcoat (UA), Teal Metallic Clearcoat (RD), Vibrant Red Clearcoat (ES), and for a rare nine cars, Vibrant Red non-Clearcoat (EY). You can see from the main image above, the exterior was almost LX modest and really didn’t look like anything special.
The exterior of the Cobra received its own subtle detail changes. The Cobra had the same lower grille as the GT, but minus the side scoops. The front fascia contained a grille opening which carried a running horse emblem. The flat panel between the headlamps was replaced with a slotted grille with a small running pony in the centre. The overly aggressive side skirts from the GT were toned down and the Cobra ost the fake scoops ahead of the rear wheels. A coiled snake was affixed to the front fender where the 5.0 badges would normally be found.
Changes to the Cobra were the most pronounced at the rear. A shallow, up-turned rear bumper with exhaust cutouts was installed and the rear spoiler was redesigned to give the car greater stability a high speeds. Rounding out the changes was a subtle “Cobra” badge on the left side of the hatch and a new set of tail lights. For those with keen eyes you will also notice the SVO tail lamps and the seven-blade alloy wheels which add to the speedy and sophisticated package.
Interior furnishings were basically GT stock and was offered in either grey or black. Cloth seats were standard and leather was available as an option. The only distinguishing feature of the Cobra’s interior was a set of floor mats with “Cobra” embroidered into them in red stitching and a white instrument panel.
According to Road & Track, the Cobra did the 1/4 mile in 14.5 seconds at a top speed of 98 mph. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph took a quick 5.9 seconds while the run to 100mph from standstill was under 16 seconds.
Car and Driver said of the Cobra that it was “a nicer-riding, more supple car [than the GT]. Although it can feel less buttoned down…the Cobra makes better use of its tires and rewards coordinated hands and feet with clearly higher limits and cornering speeds….”
The modifications to the 5-litre engine vastly improved the motor’s high-rpm breathing and the Cobra produced most of its thrust at the upper reaches of the rev range at the expense of some low end punch. This high strung temperament is great on a track however below 2,500 RPM the Cobra felt just a little weak. This lack of low end grunt was slightly amplified by the relatively tall 3.08:1 gear ratio in the rear axle.
For those die-hard, low-end torque loving muscle car enthusiasts the Cobra might be a sight disappointment. However for those enthusiasts who love rowing through the gears and exploring the upper reaches of the tachometer and the outer limits of performance the engine in the Cobra was simply sublime. And boy did it sound the business, an absolutely hypnotic sound.
This was no Porsche though. The Fox body platform was starting to show its advanced ads. At its limits the Cobra was a handful and the soft suspension didn’t inspire confidence for the inexperienced driver. And while the four-wheel disc brakes were a welcome change and did improve the Mustang’s stopping ability, anti-lock brakes weren’t available, a feature that was quickly becoming a must have for some people. Quite simply technology had moved on, past the capabilities of the old chassis. On its own and compared to the LX 5.0 and GT the Cobra was a leap forward but next to the all new for 1993 Camaro and Firebird the Cobra just couldn’t climb to the top.
Built at: Detroit, Michigan, USA Engine: 90-degree, OHV Windsor V-8 Displacement: 4949 cc / 302 in³ Bore: 101.6 mm / 4.0 in Stroke: 76.2 mm / 3.0 in Power: 179.0 kw / 240 bhp @ 4800 rpm Specific Output: 48.49 bhp per litre Torque: 386.41 nm / 285 ft lbs @ 4000 rpm Redline: 6250 Front tires: P255/45ZR-17 Rear tires: P255/45ZR-17 Front brakes: Vented Discs w/Power Assist & ABS Front brake size: x 330 mm / x 13 in Rear brakes: Vented Discs w/Power Assist & ABS Rear brake size: x 296 mm / x 11.65 in Front suspension: Modified MacPherson strut type with separate spring on lower arm, 400 lbs./in. linear-rate coil springs, 25mm stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Rigid axle, four trailing links, two leading hydraulic links, 160 lbs./in. linear-rate coil springs, 27mm stabilizer bar 1/4-mile @ MPH: 14.1 seconds @ 101 mph Top speed: ~225.3 kph / 140 mph 0 – 60 mph: ~6.3 seconds
Cobra Hatchback: $18,505
Cobra R: 107 Total: 5,100
Colors & Numbers
Black (UA) 1,854
Vibrant Red Clearcoat (ES) 1,882
Vibrant Red (EY) 9
Teal Metallic RD 1,355
Exterior & Interior Combos Colors
Black Cloth + Black Exterior 448
Black Cloth + Vibrant Red Clear Exterior 327
Black Cloth + Vibrant Red Exterior 1079
Black Cloth + Teal Metallic Exterior 361
Gray Cloth + Black Exterior 521
Gray Cloth + Vibrant Red Clear Exterior 1000
Gray Cloth + Vibrant Red Exterior 1
Gray Cloth + Teal Metallic Exterior 1
Gray Leather + Black Exterior 7
Gray Leather + Vibrant Red Clear Exterior 185
Gray Leather + Vibrant Red Exterior 414
Gray Leather + Teal Metallic Exterior 802
The VIN is stamped on the plate which is riveted to the driver’s side of the dash, visible through windshield; the certification label is attached to the rear face of the driver’s door. For full details see our 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra VIN Decoder page.