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Reason why Mustang didn't keep up with Camaro's performance in the 90s?

Posted 07-11-2008 at 04:16 PM by guionM
In the 1990s, Team Mustang and Ford's SVT division lead by John Colletti was absolutely chomping at the bit to take on GM's pony cars on performance, and they had the means and equptment to do it. But they were held at bay by Ford management, and alot of what was planned for Mustang never saw the light of day.

When the '94 Cobra was being developed, Ford expected GM to use the L98 engine, not the LT1 lifted directly from the Corvette. There was a supercharged Mustang that appalled key Ford executives because they felt it was way overpowered.

When it became apparent GM was going to use the Corvette LT1 in the Camaro (just before introduction), SVT came up with a 351 that would have seriously done damage to the LT1 F-body. It produced 25 more horsepower than Chevy's 350, and the Mustang was a bit lighter. Again, Ford brass blocked it. Reason? They just spent a mint developing the modular engine including the upcoming '94 quad-cam Cobra. Going back to a pushrod for performance would be a step backwards, a waste of money already spent while investing in an outgoing engine. They did permit it to be used in the Cobra R as part of a low producion race car.

The 300 horsepower 1996 quad cam Cobra actually did get the jump on an 275 horse LT1 off the line, but by 60 both cars were tied, and beyond the LT1 simply ran away from it.

Ford management erred again with the '99 Cobra. The upcoming LS1 was rated at 305 horsepower, and Ford management felt that matching GM's 20 horse gain by raising the power to 320 would be enough. Again, SVT had more (the 5.4 Cobra R's engine) but was restricted to a limited production, expensive model. But this time around, the LS1 had alot more than the 20 horsepower gain that GM was advertising. This round, GM essentially gave Ford a sucker punch by lying about the LS1's F-body power output. Ford did balence out the F-body's handling advantage with IRS and other tweaks.

The supercharged '03 Cobra had the inside name of "Terminator" according to John Colletti, to "terminate" the Camaro because they were finally allowed to beat (not simply match or edge out) the F-body.

In the end, it wasn't that Ford "couldn't" build a engine to beat the Camaro. The LS1 was no technical miracle motor that made mountains of horsepower that others had to figure out how to match. And is wasn't that Ford didn't have engineers capable and itching to put some meat into the Mustang in the 90s.

The problem was Ford management.

As it turned out, the same management that killed the supercharged Thunderbird before killing the one of the most famous namplated in automotive history even though it was outselling it's competition (the Monte Carlo).
Total Comments 3


JasonD's Avatar
Good stuff! I remember those days clearly, I had a 1996 Camaro SS and there were a few 1996 quad cam Cobras running around my area. I never got to race one but we would always glare at the each other like a couple of old tom cats that are ready to scrap when passing each other on the streets .
Posted 07-24-2008 at 09:25 AM by JasonD JasonD is offline
That's usually where all short comings lye. In management that knows nothing but numbers.
Posted 09-10-2008 at 02:33 PM by PHANTOM LT1 PHANTOM LT1 is offline
on the same page you can say that about ford.. but who knows how much stuff chevy couldnt come out with to.. 1 thing i dont like about fords now is anything thats got any kind of balls they dont make themselves they dont roll out of their normal factories.. **** why doesnt chevy doesnt yenko and baldwin motion come back and then lets see what happens with the shelbys and rousch's
Posted 03-19-2009 at 09:41 AM by z28camaro1090 z28camaro1090 is offline
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