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Lack of Power in the 1999 SVT Cobra
1999 SVT cobra motor

In the August 1999 issue (released May/June '99) of Car and Driver magazine it was reported that they could not obtain a 0-60mph time of less than 6.0 seconds with their 1999 SVT Cobra Convertible test car even though Ford claimed the Cobra coupe was capable of a 0-60 time of 5.4 second and the convertible 5.6 seconds.

Afterwards it seems as though many Cobra owner's eyes were opened to the fact that their beloved machine may have a power deficiency of some sort. Quite a number of Cobra owners then had their cars dyno'd only to find that the power numbers were hit and miss. Some who dyno'd their Cobra got about 260rwhp which is perfectly normal because a chassis dyno doesn't compensate for horsepower loss through the drivetrain. Others found that their cars were down by quite alot. I've heard claims of some cars being down by as much as 50 horsepower although the official power loss was in the 15hp neighborhood.

On July 20th 1999 BlueOvalNews.com released an article on the problems the 1999 Cobra was experiencing containing information from confidential internal documents from Ford. These documents showed the problem with the Cobra possibly having to do with three things: The intake manifold, exhaust system components, and engine compression or lack there of.
According to these documents problems with the intake manifold were resulting in a 5-7hp decrease from what was produced in development, problems with compression lowered it another 1-2hp, and restrictions in exhaust mufflers killed another 7hp.

Weeks after publishing this article Ford Motor Company decided to cancel production of the 2000 SVT Cobra because they (as you will see in the article below) weren't sure if they could get the 320 horsepower stated. Afterwards Ford did wind up recalling the 1999 Mustang Cobra to fix the problem. From what we hear this included replacing the intake manifold and the exhaust system. I have read claims of Cobra owners dynoing their cars after the recall to find much improved horsepower numbers, some even say their car now made a good amount more than 320hp. So thankfully Ford did follow through and fix the power problems in the 1999 Cobra.

Below is a copy of the original article posted by BlueOvalNews.com

Based on internal Ford SVT memos obtained by BlueOvalNews, SVT is listing two possible causes. 1) Intake manifold and 2) Exhaust system components. Based on internal Ford memos, BlueOvalNews has reason to believe that a third reason also exists 3) Engine compression.

Cobra owners really started to take notice that something might be wrong with their vehicle when CAR and DRIVER reported in their August 1999 issue that they could not achieve a 0-60 time in under 6.0 seconds. Ford advertises a 0-60 time in 5.4 seconds; however, this was achieved with a coupe while CAR and DRIVER conducted their test with a convertible model. Ford still believes that CAR and DRIVER should have been able to achieve a 0-60 time in at least 5.6 seconds.

It is thought that CAR and DRIVER'S article possibly exposed a problem to customers who were otherwise not informed. This translated into increased customer calls to Ford/SVT during the week of 05 July.

BlueOvalNews started to receive internal documents concerning possible problems with the '99 Cobra several weeks ago. One internal document, which we are also alleging is from a Ford/SVT source immediately caught our attention by stating "Exhaust and intake solve part of issue, but it appears there is a design flaw." Another section of that same document that also caught our attention read "Where do we address fix for compression ratio issue".

BlueOvalNews also obtained a memo issued by a senior Ford employee in the Large Luxury Vehicle Center with Advanced Vehicle Technologies which states "production engines down on power 5-7 Hp due to intake (5-6 Hp) and compression (1-2 Hp) -Production muffler restriction is resulting in 7 Hp loss vs development. Containment actions: (1) Qualify Manifolds and recover loss to development levels. Timing and feasibility is TBD. (2) Hand cut muffler tubes similar to development to reduce restriction to development levels. Timing is TBD. (3) REP looking at changes to recover CR without screwing up 5.4L 4Vs."

We are alleging that another part of the same memo reads "Service actions: (1) Hand cut tubes for muffler to reduce restriction. Timing for service TBD. (2) Investigate service rework of customer manifolds from service. Timing TBD. Permanent Corrective Actions: Make sure that production hardware can achieve development levels Also, recommendation is to revalidate and confirm that we can achieve 320 Hp/ 5.4 sec 0-60 with production variability for 2000 Job1 or defer Job1 until we confirm we achieve". BlueOvalNews has also learned at an alleged 60% of 1999 Cobra Mustangs are affected with this problem(s)!

If you were Ford Motor Company, you would probably be concerned not only with the embarrassment and repercussions that this whole mess will generate, but you would also take into account the bad amount to Public relations and money it's going to take to fix the problem.

BlueOvalNews further alleges that another Ford/SVT document states "This doesn't include financial implications of dealer picking up car from customer's home/work w/flatbed truck; providing comparable loaner, returning vehicle via flatbed, washed and with full tank; extending powertrain warranty to 6 years/60,000 miles".

Another section of that same document states "Also doesn't include potential implications if fix is not sufficient. If we admit that this gets only 305-310 hp, then do we need to offer to replace engines with proper 2000MY engines, offer customer $$ ($2500?) off future FMC product, or potentially buy back vehicles??? MAJOR COST IMPLICATIONS".

BlueOvalNews DOES NOT know when Ford or SVT will address either of the two issues covered within this article; however, we expect that they will issue a press release/statement sooner than later. . .generally after damage control reports come sizzling in. (We expect that SVT's phones will be ringing off the hook this entire week).

- Read the Press Release from Ford on the stoppage of sales of the 1999 Cobra
- Read what Car and Driver Magazine had to say after the fix