Ford Mustang Cobra (2001-02): future classic

By: Joe Kenwright

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Future classics: Ford Mustang Cobra 2001-02. Ford's local Mustang foray of the early 2000s had a lot more local content than you might have thought.

Ford Mustang Cobra (2001-02): future classic
Ford Mustang Cobra 2001-02

 

Ford Mustang Cobra (2001-02)

Ford's fourth-generation Mustang made quite an impact on Ford Australia. Its 1994 US launch was timed perfectly with the unfortunate exit of Australia's export convertible, the Mercury (Ford) Capri, from US showrooms. Then, in 2001, despite the Mk4 Mustang being old enough for life support, it became a Ford Australia model.

An initiative of the late Geoff Polites, who was determined not to let Holden have it all its own way with the Monaro, it was also a curtain raiser for the Cobra upgrades of Ford's imminent modular V8 engines in the BA XR8 and GT. Despite protests about the finish from young journalists raised on jelly-mould plastics in Japanese cars, it was surprisingly well suited to local traffic conditions and speeds.

Polites, mindful of the crude local conversions of 1960s Mustangs, insisted on Tickford totally re-engineering the top-shelf Cobra coupe and convertible. Each car was stripped down before 150 major new parts, 200 minor new parts and over 50 modified parts were applied in a 55-hour operation. Even the drivetrain was moved to the left and the centre tunnel re-profiled to make room for the pedals and driver's feet.

A new steering rack with revised geometry and a purpose-built right-hand-drive instrument panel ensured there was little sign in the showroom, or on the road, that it left the US with LHD. Ford's state-of-the-art 4.6-litre, quad-cam, 32-valve modular V8 made 240kW and 430Nm and was more than enough for the coupe and convertible's weight (1557kg and 1617kg, respectively). Extra lights in the front bumper added credibility.

Available with a Tremec T45 five-speed manual only, poseurs shopped elsewhere. Fully independent, double-wishbone rear suspension and upgraded Brembo front brakes allowed most of its performance to be accessed most of the time, even on Australia's average-to-poor road surfaces.

Even if the cabin or exterior gaps and surfaces were not perfect, there was an air of authenticity about the local Mustang missing from most sub-$100,000 alternatives at the time. After an initial drop, prices have already levelled out. Because most are cosseted, low-kay examples, the value is still there. Early cars came in black, white, red and silver with yellow and blue arriving later.

Rarity, and the unlikelihood of another US pony car ever appearing as an official RHD model, assures ongoing interest in both body styles, with the coupe offering extra body integrity and the convertible extra flair.

 

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