Sales of the 1995 Ford Mustang and Mustang Cobra climbed to a combined 185,986 for the year, despite few changes to the cars. However many observers, including Consumer Guide®, were pleased to note tidier detail workmanship and a more solid overall driving feel.
A confusing footnote was an announced GTS model, a GT with base-level trim and a $1200 lighter sticker, which was yanked before '95 sales began. AutoWeek later reported the GTS would be a midyear addition priced $2000 below the GT, but it never showed up on factory price lists, nor did a rumored GTS package for '96.
But Ford had another way to low-frills high-performance. Remember SVO, Special Vehicle Operations? Well, by 1995 it was the Special Vehicle Organization with a new emphasis on developing over-the-counter speed parts.
Various kits allowed Mustangers to go as they paid. "If we had to choose just one," Motor Trend advised, "it would be the 3.55:1-ratio rear-end gearset. The stock GT comes with 2.73:1 gears for optimum fuel economy. The Cobra SVT uses a more performance-themed 3.08:1 set. But if you're willing to pay a fuel-economy penalty and $257…the 3.55:1 gears get the most out of the torquey 5.0-liter V-8 engine."
SVO also offered this in a $2995 "GT40" engine kit that upped horsepower to 290 -- 50 more than a stock Cobra, 75 more than a stock GT. Featured were big-valve "GT40" aluminum heads (vs. smaller-valve cast-iron units), a new intake manifold with tubular runners, a larger throttle body, tubular exhaust headers, and low-drag accessory drive. So equipped, Car and Driver's GT coupe ran 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.2 at 100 mph.
"That puts this garage-built Trojan horse in the speed ballpark with the Z28," said C/D, which noted that "you can pay any Ford dealer the 10-hour flat-rate charge (about $500) to do the installation honors." Still not enough? SVO also listed a factory-approved Powerdyne supercharger with a choice of 6- and 9-psi boost, starting at $2600.
Not to be outdone, SVT whipped up a new Cobra R, this time with a 351 V-8 based on its hot-rod F-150 Lightning pickup engine -- and completely street-legal. Higher compression (9.2:1), a wilder cam, and larger throttle body yielded 300 horsepower and a thumping 365 pound-feet.
Despite that, another stripped interior, and a fiberglass hood (domed for clearance), Car and Driver's prototype managed only 5.4 seconds 0-60 and a 14-second/99-mph standing-quarter, still only even with an everyday Z28. No matter. With only 250 copies, all coupes, this Cobra R was an instant sellout. Most were modified for road-course and drag racing.
The '95 Cobra R was the end of the road for Ford's overhead-valve small-block engine -- it did not return in the 1996 lineup. Keep reading to learn about more changes made to the '96 Mustang.
Want to find out even more about the Mustang legacy? Follow these links to learn all about the original pony car:
- Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
- The Fox generation of Mustangs got a new lease on life with a 1987 restyle and further refinements into the early Nineties. Learn all about it in 1987-1993 Ford Mustang.
- Ford's ageless pony car was rejuvenated one more time for 1999 with "New Edge" styling, more power, and many key refinements. Read 1999-2004 Ford Mustang to learn about the fastest, most roadable Mustangs yet.
- Ford muscle cars were among the top performers of the muscle car era. Check out profiles, photos, and specifications of some tough Ford muscle cars.