The Historical Significance
of the Mystichrome Cobra
When in Doubt, Offer More!
The absolute best was yet to come, and Ford fans and the automotive press were about to be amazed. A crowd gathered at the Mustang’s 40th anniversary-branded exhibit at the New York International Auto Show on April 16, 2003, and Ford officially kicked off the Mustang’s 40th birthday celebration the day before the marque turned 39 years of age. In typical, dramatic, debut fashion, the covers were pulled off to reveal the 40th Anniversary V6 and GT editions along with the glamorous Mystichrome Cobra. Jaws dropped along with the drapes at the sight of Ford’s latest, color-shifting beauty. Obviously, the real showstopper was the Mystichrome Cobra, and it did not fail to wow automotive pundits and showgoers alike with its magically prismatic paint and leather interior, entrancing all who cast their gaze upon its mystical eminence.
One year after being named Ford’s most powerful production Mustang to date, and less than a year after GM pulled the plug on its Camaro and Firebird, the Terminator Cobra was given its flashiest treatment to match its equally insane performance. Of course, in the nearly 20 years since, a resurgence of factory-built muscle cars with 700+ horsepower seems to be the norm, but back in 2004, a low-volume, factory-built, performance car with nearly 400 horsepower and a hand-built engine with race-tested, forged internals for under $40,000 was almost unfathomable. According to any automotive news source at the time, sprinting 0–60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and running the quarter-mile in about 12.5 seconds at around 110 mph while completely bone-stock was nothing short of amazing.
What’s more, Ford and SVT decided to cautiously market their new Terminator Cobra superstar with understated power ratings. Through dyno testing of factory-stock Terminators, new owners were pleased to report that power ratings were actually higher than what was stated by SVT. Instead of 390 stated horsepower, the calculated crankshaft horsepower ratings were 425–430, and instead of a stated torque rating of 390 lb-ft, the calculated torque ratings at the crank were 420–425 lb-ft. The reason for this apparent discrepancy or oversight is of historical significance. Nonetheless, with its killer looks and attitude, the Mystichrome Cobra benefitted from the Terminator’s drop-dead power and thrilling performance capabilities.
Below: Clearly, the marketing department at Ford wanted to demonstrate the amazing color-shift in the Mystichrome paint. Thus, numerous angles and shots in various light settings were included in the original Mystichrome Cobra press kit.
Above: The Mystichrome Cobra was unveiled at an exclusive press event in the days leading up to the public opening of the New York International Auto Show.
The Mystichrome Cobra debuted
with its other 40th Anniversary brethren
on Wednesday, April 16, 2003, at
the New York International Auto Show.
Below: Two Mystichrome Cobra prototypes, one coupe and one convertible, made the show circuit during 2003 wherever Ford had an exhibit. Other SVT vehicles were usually put on display alongside the new color-changer. There was only one difference between the prototypes and the actual production models: The prototypes had a black keyhole surround on the driver’s door, and this was changed to bright aluminum on the production units, like all other Mustangs.
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