Official Mystichrome Cobra
Special Edition ’04 Cobra Takes
Color-Shift Technology to the Extreme
Official Ford Motor Company Press Release
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) unveiled the 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra Mystichrome package — with color-shifting paint that changes from green to blue to purple to black — at the 2003 New York Auto Show on April 16, 2003. The special package also features the industry’s first production application of color-shifting leather interior trim.
The new 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra Mystichrome features an advanced formula of color-shifting paint, first offered in 1996 on the SVT Mustang Cobra with Mystic paint. The original formula changed from black to purple to root-beer brown.
“Customers loved the original SVT Mustang Cobra with Mystic paint,” says Tom Scarpello, sales and marketing manager for Ford SVT. “Even today, Mystic cars are still some of the most popular, and most collectible, special editions in SVT’s 10-year history. We expect the new Mystichrome package, with more vibrant colors and one-of-a-kind color-shifting interior trim, to be even more popular with SVT Mustang Cobra enthusiasts.”
The Special Vehicle Team worked with Alan Eggly, Ford’s color and trim director for North America, to develop the Mystichrome paint and leather. Both the exterior and interior treatments utilize ChromaFlair light interference pigments, from Flex Products, Inc., in Santa Rosa, California. These tiny particles (each an average size of 17 microns) are comprised of five layers of colorless film. Combined, these layers produce shimmering, vibrant colors. The microscopic layers act like a tiny prism: White light is reflected off the core layer, and then split by outer layers into visible colors. As the viewing angle changes, so does the visible color. The color produced is controlled by precise variances, measured in atoms, in the prismatic layers: The thinnest ChromaFlair pigment shifts from gold through silver and into light blue; the thickest pigment shifts from silver through green and into purplish blue.
ChromaFlair pigments were first used for an automotive application on the 1996 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra with Mystic paint. “It was truly ground-breaking,” says Eggly. “No other manufacturer had used color-shifting paint on a production car before. But, just as the handling and acceleration have dramatically improved since 1996 on the SVT Mustang Cobra, so has color-shifting technology. For 2004, we were able to take Mystic paint and put it on steroids.”
Eggly challenged DuPont to create a new color-shifting paint with visual performance to match the visceral performance of the 390-horsepower SVT Mustang Cobra. To that end, DuPont staff chemists started with green/purple ChromaFlair pigments that shift from bright green through a range of blues and then into purple. The DuPont chemists blended that with traditional black and green pigments for visual balance and deep, rich colors. As a finishing touch, they added a pinch of aluminum flakes to enhance bright, metallic sparkle.
The resulting color shift is described by the DuPont chemists as “a bright, metallic topaz that transitions to cobalt blue, then to royal purple, and finally into a deep onyx black.”
“The bright, iridescent colors reminded me of chromed exhaust headers blued by intense heat,” says Eggly. Thus, he dubbed the new color “Mystichrome.”
Because ChromaFlair pigments are stirred into a water or solvent base like any paint additive, the paint does not require special handling. As such, Mystichrome paint will be applied at the Dearborn Assembly Plant, using the same process of other factory colors. In addition, Mystichrome passes the same rigorous durability tests of any factory paint. Also, the dramatic color shifts actually hide paint applied during body repair.
Satisfied with the exterior hue, Eggly and the Ford Special Vehicle Team turned their attention to the interior. “The interior needed something special to complement the stunning exterior,” says Eggly. “We considered spraying hard parts, like the center stack or door handles, with Mystichrome paint. Then I recalled a Ford supplier, Garden State Tanning (GST), had developed leather colored with ChromaFlair pigments.”
Garden State Tanning had remarkable success substituting ChromaFlair for traditional leather pigments. To match the Mystichrome exterior paint, GST starts with leather hides tanned with a black dye. The same blue/green ChromaFlair pigment used in the exterior paint is mixed with leather-softening oils and then sprayed onto the surface. Finally, a clear protective layer is applied to seal in the color.
The result is another automotive precedent, the first color-shifting leather trim used by an original equipment manufacturer. Mystichrome leather, which mimics the color shift of the exterior paint, is used for the front and rear seat inserts, as well as sections of the steering wheel wrap.
Again, the only change in the production process is the pigment. Mystichrome leather has the same supple feel and grain as the surrounding Midnight Black leather surfaces. Also, the Mystichrome leather passes the same wear and color-retention tests of traditional leather used by Ford Motor Company.
For Eggly, it’s the most compelling special-edition SVT Mustang Cobra yet. “The paint and interior trim perfectly complement the dramatic style and explosive performance of the SVT Mustang Cobra,” he says. “The Mystichrome package would not be appropriate for any other car, as the explosive colors are tied to the emotion and passion found in the SVT Mustang Cobra.”
“SVT Mustang Cobra owners are incredibly passionate about their cars, and particularly with special editions,” says Scarpello. “SVT has cultivated that enthusiasm by offering more than the customer expects, from the 1993, 1995, and 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R models to the 1996 SVT Mustang Cobra in Mystic to the 2003 10th Anniversary SVT Mustang Cobra. The 2004 Mystichrome package, with vibrant color and the industry’s first color-shifting leather, is no exception.” Coupe or convertible body styles (depending on order mix) will be offered with the Mystichrome Appearance Package, which also includes chrome wheels as standard equipment. The package carries an MSRP of $3,650. Every full-line SVT dealer will be allocated at least one Mystichrome Cobra. Job One is scheduled for November of 2003.
— Official Ford Motor Company press release
April 17, 2003
Points of Difference:
— The Mystichrome Cobra made its world debut on April 16, 2003, at the New York International Auto Show, almost 39 years to the day after the first Mustang debuted on April 17, 1964, at the New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York City. The Mustang’s official “birthday” is observed on April 17 every year, and Ford has a history and continues the tradition of debuting Mustangs of all breeds on or around April 17. Thus, it is fitting that the Mystichrome Cobra, considered by Ford as a 40th anniversary model, debuted alongside its other special-edition brethren (the 2004 40th Anniversary Mustang V6 and GT models) on the day before its namesake’s 39th birthday.
— What the DuPont chemists call “topaz green” is more of a vivid, emerald green. “Cobalt blue” and “royal purple” are accurate in describing their respective colors, but what they call “onyx black” is a difficult one to assess. In certain low-light environments, it looks more like a dark, metallic charcoal; in bright sunlight, it takes on an eerie hue like a glowing, mossy green with hints of dark, metallic slate. Without a doubt, the most recognizable shades at a glance are the vibrant greens, blues, and purples in the Mystichrome paint.
— This press release echoes SVT’s press release in stating that the Mystichrome Cobra leather interior would be Midnight Black with Mystichrome inserts. It is unknown if this was an erroneous statement or not. However, it is imaginable from a business standpoint that, in order to keep production costs down after spending some serious money developing the Mystichrome leather, Ford and/or SVT decided to continue implementing economies of scale by sourcing the same Dark Charcoal leather and interior appointments as found in all other Terminator Cobras and similarly appointed Mustang V6 and GT models. The last time that a black interior was offered in a Mustang of any kind was in 1998.
— This press release did not state a proposed quantity. However, the finalized total build was 1,010 Mystichrome Cobras — 515 coupes and 495 convertibles.
— Job One for 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra production started on November 3, 2003. However, Job One for the Mystichrome Cobra was pushed back to mid-December 2003 and lasted through mid-January 2004. Production of the 2004 SVT Cobra ended on March 31, 2004.
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“We expect the new Mystichrome package
to be even more popular with SVT Mustang
Cobra enthusiasts,” says Tom Scarpello,
sales and marketing manager for Ford SVT.
The Mystichrome formula is comprised of
ChromaFlair light interference pigments,
tiny particles averaging 17 microns in size.
Ford challenged DuPont to create
a new color-shifting paint formula with
visual performance to match the visceral performance of the Terminator Cobra.
The Mystichrome Cobra has the honor
of being the first production vehicle
with color-shifting leather upholstery.
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