From 1991 to 2015, the Ford Motor Company featured a remarkable subsidiary that focused on developing high-performance versions of existing vehicles. This subsidiary was known as the Special Vehicle Team or SVT, and it evolved from Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) performance group.
SVT was responsible for some of Ford’s most breathtaking vehicles, and in this blog, you’ll learn about the group’s impressive creations and some of its inner workings.
The Ford Special Vehicle Team
Ford SVT was far from a standard Ford subsidiary. Rather than employing permanent, full-time workers, the group used a variety of individuals from different Ford departments. These Ford employees would work on specific projects considered to fall under the SVT umbrella, but they only worked on SVT projects as needed. All members of each project would be involved in the entire process of designing, developing, producing, and even marketing the SVT vehicles.
Jim Sawyer, the Director of Vehicle Programs for Campbell and Co., which marketed SVT projects, described the subsidiary as more of an ad hoc committee rather than a standard subsidiary. The only full-time employee was the group’s team leader John Plant, one of the founders of SVT’s predecessor SVO.
In addition to designing high-performance versions of existing Ford production vehicles, the group also functioned as an unofficial research and development lab that solved problems and made innovations that impacted other Ford departments.
Ford’s Collaboration with SVT Dealers
While the Special Vehicle Team worked to develop specialty versions of Ford vehicles, the Ford Motor Company worked with their dealers to ensure that each individual SV dealer could provide quality and knowledgeable customer service.
For dealers to become certified to sell SVT vehicles, they needed to have a history of selling performance cars. Additionally, dealers needed to have positive marks in Ford’s Quality Care Program, which measured dealerships’ overall customer service.
Once a dealer was certified, they would train a team of employees to improve the experience of prospective customers. Ford taught employees about SVT vehicles so that they would be able to deliver top-notch service for SV buyers. This was especially important because most potential customers in the market for Ford’s special cars were incredibly knowledgeable about these exceptional vehicles. The training ensured that employees could provide great customer service experiences for these well-informed customers, leading to more sales.
Ford SVT Vehicles
Ford’s exceptional subsidiary produced a total of 144,993 units before the group merged with European RS to form Ford Performance in 2015. The SVT models were the SVT Lightning, SVT Cobra, SVT Contour, and SVT Focus.
The SVT Lightning was the first model that Ford SVT developed along with the SVT Cobra. The truck was a derivative of the F-150 and was intended to compete with the Chevrolet 454 SS. Ford SVT updated the truck with better handling and improved its front and rear suspension as well as its frame.
From 1993 to 1995, this Ford high performance vehicle boasted a 5.8 L Windsor FI V8 that produced 240 hp and 340 foot-pounds of torque. The truck’s powertrain also included the F-350’s 4-speed automatic transmission.
In 1999, Ford SVT released the second generation of the stunning SVT Lightning, which sported a 5.4 L supercharged Triton V8 that also came with the F-350’s transmission. From 1999 to 2000, the truck had a power output of 360 hp and 440 foot-pounds of torque, and Ford SVT improved its output in 2001 with 380 hp and 450 foot-pounds of torque.
SVT Mustang Cobra
Ford SVT released three generations of the SVT Cobra from 1993 to 2000. These generations were marked by the vehicle’s different platforms: Fox, SN-95 1/Fox 4, and SN-95 2. The 1993 Fox and 1994-1995 SN-95 1 versions came with a 5.0 L Windsor V8. The Fox version sported 235 hp and 280 foot-pounds of torque while the SN-95 1 version had 240 hp and 285 foot-pounds of torque.
From 1996 to 1998, Ford SVT equipped the second generation SVT Cobra with a 4.6 L DOHC Modular V8 with 305 hp and 300 foot-pounds of torque, and in 1995, the SVT Cobra R boasted a 5.8 L Windsor V8 with 300 hp and 365 foot-pounds of torque.
The third generation came with three different Modular V8 engines throughout its 5-year run: the 4.6 L DOHC Modular V8 with 320 hp and 317 foot-pounds of torque, the 4.6 L DOHC SC Modular V8 with 390 hp and 390 foot-pounds of torque, and the 5.4 L DOHC Modular V8 with 385 hp and 385 foot-pounds of torque. Ford SVT installed the 5.4 L DOHC engine within the 2000 SVT Cobra R.
Ford’s SVT Contour was an improved version of the first-generation Ford Mondeo, originally released in 1992. This special version came with handling and performance upgrades, high-performance tires, bigger wheels, re-tuned suspension, and a more stunning and sleek style.
The powertrain came with a 5-speed manual transmission and a 2.5 L Duratec 25 SVT V6. In 1998, the vehicle’s output was 195 hp with 165 foot-pounds of torque, and the 1999-2000 models had 200 hp and 169 foot-pounds of torque.
Finally, Ford SVT released a specialty version of the Ford Focus from 2002 to 2004. The company released 3-door and 5-door models of the car, and it came with improved front and rear bumper fascias, fog lamps, a rear diffuser, a hatch lip spoiler, and other impressive updates.
The vehicle sported a 2.0 L Zetec I4 with 170 hp and 145 foot-pounds of torque.
Get the Best Insurance for Your Ford SVT Vehicle
The Ford Special Vehicle Team was truly an impressive arm of the Ford Motor Company with its many high-performance versions of existing vehicles. If you own one of these remarkable cars or trucks, you need robust insurance to keep it on the road for as long as possible.
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