Ford’s Flying Circus of Ponies and Pickups
Mustang Cobra R
R stands for “racing” just as it did back in 1963 when Carroll Shelby built a limited run of 37 R-Model Shelby GT 350s. Hoping the R would also stand for a repeat of the on-track success enjoyed by Shelby’s cars, Ford gave the okay in 1993 to a run of 100 Cobra R competition models to do battle against Camaros and Firebirds in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) World Challenge and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Firestone Grand Sport Series.
Starting with an SVT Mustang Cobra, a less-ismore philosophy prevailed as air conditioning, power windows, fog lights, sound insulation, inner-fender panels, and the back seat were stripped away to shed about 150 pounds. Koni shock absorbers and struts, along with larger stabilizer bars and stiffer Eibach springs, replaced their more ride-compliant counterparts. Five-bolt 17-inch wheels and upgraded brakes were also part of the R modifications. An oil cooler was added along with increased cooling capacity for the engine.
Priced at $25,692, all 107 of the hand-built cars were sold before they rolled off the assembly line. Unfortunately, the R was more of a sales success than a racing success. Speculators, rather than racers, gobbled up the majority of the cars. The Rs that did hit the track were outgunned by Camaros that toted 40 more horses. Ford was determined to correct this situation with the next R model, which came out in 1995. A 5.8-liter Windsor V-8 replaced the 5. 0-liter V-8. The engine had a marine application block and sported a special cam, aluminum alloy pistons, forged-steel connecting rods, GT-40 heads and lower intake manifold, and a special-cast alloy upper intake.
A beefier Tremec five-speed transmission was used to handle the extra power along with an 8.8-inch rear end. This vehicle was good enough to make 300 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 365 foot-pounds of torque at 3,750 rpm, and still meet emissions standards as a street-legal vehicle. The standard Ford Cobra body underwent a similar diet plan as applied to the 1993 model: no radio, air, or back seat. Likewise, suspension changes included the installation of Koni shocks and struts as well as Eibach springs. Other modifications were a 20-gallon racing fuel cell and additional cooling for the engine and power steering. The wheels were upgraded to 17×9 inches. All 230 cars were white with a beige cloth interior. Priced at $35,499—plus a $2,100 gasguzzler tax—the R also required customers to have something else besides a fat bank account.
To keep speculators at bay, Ford required buyers to present a racing license. The 1995 Ford Cobra R was a serious racecar as evidenced by Motor Trends comparison test to a Shelby R-Model GT 350. The newer car went from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds as opposed to the Shelby’s time of 5.5 seconds. The R model did get its revenge at the drag strip with an elapsed time ol 13.6 seconds versus 13.8 for the R. For 2000, the latest R model is a horse of a different color, literally and figuratively. All 300 vehicles are red with charcoal interiors, but it is the philosophical as well as technical changes that are worth noting. In the engine bay, you will see a 5.4-liter V-8 resembling that of the Lincoln Navigator. The Ford SVT took the cast-iron truck block and added special aluminum four-valve heads that increased the airflow up to 25 percent over the Cobra.
Forged-aluminum pistons, biller steel connecting rods, and a large capacity racing oil pan are also part of the package. Exhaust gases flow through stainless-steel headers to special Borla mulflers and exit through side pipes. The 5.4-liter engine makes 385 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and an equal amount of torque at 4,500 rpm. A Tremec six-speed transmission replaced the standard five-speed transmission. Brake rotors were the same as the Ford Cobra, with the addition of Brembo fourpiston calipers on the front. Suspension modifications included Bilstein shocks and stiffer Eibach springs. The R pulls 1 g of lateral acceleration thanks to 18-inch wheels and 265/40 ZR18 BFGoodrich tires.
Unlike past R models, the 2000 model retained the power windows and power door locks from the standard Mustang. Unlike its predecessors, the R weighs 160 pounds more than a Ford Cobra. The added weight does not slow this vehicle down. Motor Trend recorded 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.82 seconds and a 13.09-second quarter-mile. With numbers like that, R also stands for respect.
Ford F-150 SVT Lightning Unless you have had your head buried under the hood of your 409 Biscayne since the 1960s, you probably have noticed that one of the most significant evolutionary changes to American high-performance machinery over the past 40 years relates to the status of the pickup truck.
Back when the Beach Boys “Shut Down” was on the Top 40 playlist, you may have owned a pickup truck to tow your musclecar to the drag strip. Today, a pickup truck could be your track vehicle. As the manufacturer of the best-selling pickups (the F-150 is the best-selling new vehicle) in the United States, Ford should have the know-how to make a pickup into a track vehicle. If you get your hands on an F-150 Lightning, you will Find that this is the case. Ford Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) department has spent much of the last decade refining the acceleration and handling capabilities of the F-150 to the point where the 2001 version of the SVT Lightning has 380 horsepower to propel the Regular Cab short-wheelbase pickup from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds, according to Ford’s stopwatches. This may be a bit conservative as Motor Trends test of a 1999 Lightning with 360 horsepower yielded a 0-to-60 time of 5.5 seconds and a big grin for the test driver who acknowledged it as the champion among new vehicles for sustained smoky burnouts. Suspension improvements (including five-leaf rear springs, gas shocks, beefy sway bars, and 295/45 ZR18 Goodyear Eagle Fl-GS unidirectional tires specially developed for the Lightning) make the truck just as much fun on twisty roads.
A supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V-8 powers the 1999, 2000, and 2001 F-150 Lightnings. Thanks to improvements in engine breathing and intercooler efficiency, the 2001 model has had horsepower increased to 380 at 4,750 rpm, and torque has been bumped to 450 foot-pounds at 3,250 rpm. Boost pressure is 8.0 psi for the Eaton Gen IV Roots-type supercharger with a water-to-air intercooler. Aluminum alloy heads, forged-steel crankshaft, dualbore throttle body, and performance-calibrated sequential electronic fuel injection are other highperformance goodies used on the truck’s V-8. The powerplant exhales through cast-iron headers and tuned dual exhaust pipes with ceramic-coated tips.
A four-speed automatic transmission and husky 4.5-inch aluminum driveshaft deliver power to the rear wheels via a 3.73 rear end with limited-slip differential. Vented disc brakes are on all four wheels. Huge 18×9. 5-inch, five-spoke, cast-aluminum alloy wheels with painted surfaces provide a purposeful NASCAR look in addition to a solid foundation. Other equipment includes antilock braking system (ABS); six-way power driver’s seat; six-disc CD changer; power windows, locks, and mirrors; engine oil cooler; remote keyless entry; and a Class III towing package. The only option is a factory-installed soft tonneau cover. The interior treatment includes a 40/60 bench seat trimmed in a combination of Ebony textured leather and Medium Graphite cloth, and a customized instrument panel with SVT-style white-faced gauges.
The exterior trim includes a black grille, custom rocker panels, and front air dam with driving lights. The color choices are limited to red, black, silver, or white. Lightning pickups are limitedproduction vehicles only sold through SVT-certified Ford dealerships, which limits availability to about 10 percent of all Ford dealers. The second-generation Lightnings debuted in 1999 with 360 horsepower, and about 2,500 1999 models were produced. The 2000 model year Lightnings were almost identical to the 1999s, and production was around 4,000 units. The first-generation F-150 SVT Lightning was produced from 1993 to 1995. These were much less sophisticated vehicles that used the old Twin I-Beam front suspension instead of the current short- and long-arm (SLA) type, 17 x 8-inch wheels, P275/60 HR17 tires, and the venerable 5.8-liter (351 cubic inches) V-8. The latter, decked out with GT-40 design cast-iron cylinder heads, a two-piece aluminum intake manifold, tubular stainlesssteel exhaust headers, and multiport electronic fuel injection put out 240 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, and 340 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm.
Ford quoted a 0-to-60-mile-per-hour time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 110 miles per hour. By comparison, Ford has the confidence to list the latest Lightning as being capable of an unfettered 142 miles per hour. There were 5,276 Lightnings produced in 1993, 4,007 in 1994, and 2,280 in 1995. For high-performance fans, having Lightning strike twice is a good thing.
2001 FORD F-150 SVT LIGHTNING SPECIFICATIONS
Body/Chassis – Regular Cab Flareside/short wheelbase.
Engine – 5.4-liter SOHC V-8 with supercharger and intercooler.
Power – 380 horsepower @ 4,750 rpm, 450 ft-lbs torque @ 3,250 rpm.
Transmission – Four-speed automatic.
Suspension – Front: Short/long arm, coil springs, Bilstein gas shocks, 31-millimeter
stabilizer bar. Rear: Solid axle, staggered Bilstein gas shocks, five-leaf springs,
23-millimeter stabilizer bar.
Brakes – Four-wheel vented discs with ABS.
Wheels/Tires -18×9. 5-inch cast-aluminum alloy; 295/45 ZR18 unidirectional with
235/70 R16 spare.
Wheelbase – 119.8 inches.
Length – 208.0 inches.
Curb Weight – 4,670 pounds.
Payload/Towing Capacity – 800 pounds/5,000 pounds.
EPA Fuel Economy, City/Highway – 13/17 miles per gallon.
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