2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra: Ultimate Guide

Ford SVT pulled out all the stops. This Cobra has one deadly bite with its modified 32 valve, 4.6 liter supercharged V8

2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

A Cobra With One Very Deadly bite

The Ford SVT has pulled out almost all the stops in creating a 2003 Mustang Cobra. In 2002 John Coletti canceled the SVT Cobra because it was as he put it a “disappointing drive”. They started to develop a new Cobra with the code name “Terminator”. This ended up to be the 2003 Cobra. This Cobra has one deadly bite A modified 32 valve, 4.6 liter engine equipped with an Eaton supercharger and aT56 6 speed transmission and a heavier duty rear end. Dynamometer tests put the horse power rating at about 375 horses at the rear wheels. Which means the snake is actually putting out more than the 390 hp advertised at the flywheel. Not only that, but it comes with comfort. A Mach 460 Stereo system, a rear seat and all the normal Mustang trimmings.

Using the knowledge they gleaned from installing a blower in the Ford Lightening truck, the SVT team installed one in the Cobra. The Cobra comes stock weighing in at 3665 pounds. Its power train pushes 390 Lbs/Ft torque at 3500 RPM and 390 hp at 6000 RPM. The rear gears are a posi-traction unit with 3:55 to 1 ratio accessed through a 6 speed transmission. The engine block was changed from the previously used cast aluminum to a cast iron block to handle the additional power.

The engine block is now a 4 bolt main as opposed to the previously used 6 bolt main used in other 4.6 Cobra engines. The block is also milled on its insides to allow for the larger crankshaft counterweights. The connecting rods are forged “H” shaped Manley’s. High tensile rod bolts are from ARP. Lower 8.5:1 modified forged pistons similar to those used in the Lightening are new as well. The cylinder heads have been machined to allow for more and higher air flow. The mass air meter is 90 mm and a twin bore 57mm throttle body feeds the blower.

The Eaton blower uses 8 psi of pressure through an intercooler to produce the 390 hp. To transfer the power to the rear axle, a standard Cobra R aluminum flywheel is used and mated to a heavy duty pressure plate. This transfers the power to a TTC T-56 6 speed transmission then through a lightweight (11.2) pound aluminum driveshaft into the 355:1 gears and a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 (P275/40ZR17) tires.

The transmission gears are as follows: first gear is 2.66, 1.78 second, 1.30 third, 1.00 4th, 0.80 fifth and 0.60 to 1 sixth (overdrive).

Now that you know that you can go, guess what? Stopping is also possible! Front brakes consist or 13″ vented Brembo discs and PBR twin piston calipers. The rear brakes are 11.65 inch vented discs with single piston calipers. ABS is standard. The suspension is a fully independent suspensions and is enhanced to handle the added power.

Aesthetically, the visual changes are about a subtle as the performance changes. The front lower valance has a larger opening to allow more cool outside air access to the radiator and intercooler. Additional larger openings near the fog lights allow for ducting to push cooler outside air to the front brakes (an aftermarket option). The hood has a larger rear facing opening to allow engine compartment air to exit over the windshield. Windshield wiper blades have small spoilers on them to keep them on the glass and functional at high speeds. The rear deck lid is made of a lightweight composite as was the hood. Included in the rear deck lid is a small uplifted spoiler reminiscent of the ones seen on California Specials in 1968. The rear spoiler is probably the least attractive part of the car. I personally would like to see a wing there. But since that is the only thing I failed to like about the car it gets a five star rating as far as I can see.

Oh by the way, it is rated at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. And because of the horsepower and performance, if you buy one of these, you get to pay a $1000.00 gas guzzler tax. Adding the destination charge, that brings the price of a Cobra to about $35,000. Not a bad deal considering what you get. An overpriced foreign car will rip you for that amount easily.

I read an interesting article in a magazine on how they changed superchargers, modified the performance chip and ended up with 605 horsepower.  Can you believe 605 hp from a 281 cid engine. More on that later.

Press Release

Beginning with the original in 1993, every generation of the SVT Mustang Cobra has elevated its standard of performance. The 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra raises the bar yet again, this time increasing power output to a level never before achieved in a production Mustang. The addition of a Roots-type supercharger and water-to-air intercooler to the Cobra’s 4.6-liter, DOHC 4-valve V-8 engine bumps output to 390 horsepower with 390 foot-pounds of torque. Additional enhancements for 2003 include exterior design alterations to the front and rear fascia, hood, rocker moldings and side scoops, as well as several changes to the interior appointments, including new multi-adjustable front seats trimmed in Nudo leather and Preferred suede.

The 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra’s 4.6-liter, DOHC V-8 is equipped with an Eaton supercharger and new aluminum alloy cylinder heads that provide increased flow capabilities. The aluminum alloy 4-valve heads are new to the Cobra. They were chosen because they also provide greater flow capabilities, and help give increased low-end torque without sacrificing peak horsepower.

The Eaton Roots-type supercharger is the same model used on the SVT F-150 Lightning, with a cast aluminum case, machined aluminum internal rotors, and its own dedicated drive belt. The supercharger compresses intake air to a pressure of 7.5 to 8.0 pounds per square inch, and under the supercharger the compressed air passes through a water-to-air intercooler. This removes heat gained during compression to make a denser, more powerful compressed air charge.

To provide strength necessary for the substantially increased torque output, the new Cobra engine is built on a cast-iron block. This unit contains the carryover forged-steel crankshaft, which is fitted with new Manley forged H-beam connecting rods, forged pistons similar to those in the SVT F-150 Lightning, and an aluminum flywheel similar to the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R’s.

The engine is mated to a TTC T-56 6-speed manual transmission. Behind that, an aluminum drive shaft with upgraded universal joints connects to the rear axle, which has a 3.55:1 gear ratio.

The Cobra’s independent suspension system receives additional bracing necessary for increased loading due to the higher power output and larger tires. Changes include revised bushing, mount and spring rates. A new tubular cross-brace has been added, which attaches to the differential and is designed to stabilize the differential assembly under hard acceleration. Revised rear suspension geometry helps improve roll steer.

Exterior design changes distinguish the SVT Mustang Cobra from the regular production Mustang GT. The hood has been redesigned, and now has flow-through scoops that help vent hot air from the engine compartment. Both the hood and rear deck are made of lightweight composite materials.

Additional SVT Mustang Cobra standard features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel; leather boots for the shift and parking brake levers; tilt steering wheel; power windows, mirrors, door locks and trunk release; the SecuriLock passive anti-theft system; remote keyless entry; speed control; and a MACH 460 audio system with AM/FM stereo and an in-dash, six-disc CD player.



Built at: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Engine: Water Cooled, 90 Degree, Cast-Iron V8
Position: Front Longitudinal
Aspiration: Eaton Roots-Type Supercharger w/Water-to-air Intercooler
Valvetrain: Chain Driven DOHC, 4 Valves per Cylinder
Displacement: 4601 cc / 280.8 in³
Bore: 90.2 mm / 3.55 in
Stroke: 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
Compression: 8.5:1
Power: 290.8 kw / 390.0 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Specific output: 84.76 bhp per litre
Torque: 528.77 nm / 390.0 ft lbs @ 3500 rpm
Redline: 6500 rpm
Driven wheels: RWD
Front tires: 275/40ZR-17
Rear tires: 275/40ZR-17
Front brakes: Brembo Vented Discs w/2-Pot Calipers, ABS
Front brake size: x 330 mm / x 13.0 in
Rear brakes: Brembo Vented Discs w/Single-Pot Calipers, ABS
Rear brake size: x 296 mm / x 11.7 in
Front wheels: F 43.2 x 22.9 cm / 17.0 x 9.0 in
Rear wheels: R 43.2 x 20.3 cm / 17.0 x 8.0 in
Steering: Rack & Pinion w/Power Assist
Front suspension: MacPherson struts; Bilstein monotube dampers, 29mm tubular stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Multi-Link; aluminum lower arms, Bilstein shocks, coil springs, 29mm stabilizer bar
Curb weight: 1662 kg / 3664 lbs
Wheelbase: 2573 mm / 101.3 in
Front track: 1530 mm / 60.2 in
Rear track: 1530 mm / 60.2 in
Length: 4661 mm / 183.5 in
Width: 1857 mm / 73.1 in
Height: 1336 mm / 52.6 in
Transmission: TTC T-56 6-Speed Manual w/11in Clutch
Gear ratios: 2.66:1, 1.78:1, 1.30:1, 1.00:1, 0.80:1, 0.63:1, :1
Final drive: 3.55:1


0 – 60 mph: 4.5 seconds
0 – 100 mph: 10.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.9 seconds at 111 mph
Top Speed: 155 mph (electrically limited)
Lateral acceleration: 0.90 g
Fuel Economy [City/Hwy]: 16 / 24 mpg
Gears: 1st 2.66:1, 2nd 1.78:1, 3rd 1.30:1, 4th 1.00:1, 5th 0.80:1, 6th 0.63:1, Final drive 3.55:1

Retail Prices

Cobra Coupe: $34,750
Cobra Convertible: $38,995

Production Numbers

Total Produced: 13,476
Total Coupe Produced:
Total Convertible Produced: 5,082

VIN Decoder

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 2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra VIN Decoder page.

VIN Decoder Cobra 2003