SVT was founded in late 1991 when Robert L. Rewey, Group Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Ford Automotive Operations, and Neil Ressler, Vice President of Research and Vehicle Technology and Chief Technical Officer, saw the need for the company to investigate niche vehicle market opportunities. The 1992 Chicago Auto Show featured the official launch of the result of Rewey's and Ressler's interest — SVT — and the unveiling of the '93 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning. Both limited-edition products went on sale in February 1993. The racing version of the Fox-platform SVT Mustang, the 1993 Cobra R, arrived on the scene three months later.
Building on the solid base of the all-new SN95 platform, the second-generation SVT Mustang Cobra coupe arrived in '94. Beyond the improved strength and rigidity of the new Mustang body structure, the Cobra received improvements to its brakes, safety features, suspension tuning, engine, and wheels and tires. Another first for SVT was the introduction of the SVT Cobra convertible, which paced the 1994 Indianapolis 500.
In what was perhaps the most publicized use of the 351-cid Windsor V-8, SVT installed the powerful engine in the 1995 SVT Mustang Cobra R. The '95 Cobra R was featured in almost every [Cobra SVT] major automotive magazine in North America. SVT Cobra coupe and convertible models rounded out the 1995 SVT lineup, along with the highly acclaimed F-150 Lightning making its third model-year appearance.
For 1996, SVT introduced a hand-assembled 305-horsepower (hp) version of Ford's 4.6-liter (L) four-valve V-8 to power the Cobra. SVT also took its first step beyond the U.S. market by entering the performance-enthusiast market of Canada. In February of '96, SVT returned to the Chicago Auto Show to unveil the 4.6-L four-valve Cobra convertible and to preview the newest SVT product, a high-performance version of the Ford Contour. The SVT Contour went on sale in the second quarter of 1997 as a '98 model.
The Ford Special Vehicle Team returned once more to the Chicago Auto Show to announce it would introduce a new generation of the SVT F-150 Lightning as a 1999 model, featuring a supercharged 5.4-L Triton V-8. From the Cobra to the Lightning to the SVT Contour and beyond, the SVT's focus remains the same: To build enthusiast vehicles with balanced performance. Toward that end, SVT vehicles must stop as well as they accelerate, ride as well as they handle, and above all, they must always be fun to drive. The Ford SVT's 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R is the pony car icon taken to the extreme of pure performance. Developed specifically for racing, 300 of these vehicles were built at Ford's Dearborn Assembly Plant in Spring of 2000, and shipped to selected SVT certified dealers. The limited-production SVT products are sold only through specially trained and SVT-certified Ford dealers in North America who are prepared to satisfy discriminating driving enthusiasts before, during, and after the sale.
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