1996 Mustang GT & Cobra White Paper

Version 1.0 07/09/95 / Copyright Jeffrey W. Fisher / All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: this document is a gathering of information from public sources, presentations, conferences, and press releases. No claim is made or implied as to correctness or validity. The author does not represent nor have any connection with Ford Motor Company. Final information and specifications will be available when/if the theorized features are announced and made available. Where opinion is offered, it represents the authors personal experience, extrapolations, and interpretations of currently available data. The author takes no responsibility for any statements found to be factually incorrect; corrections and discussion that benefit Mustang enthusiasts are welcome.

If you have general discussion issues regarding the information on this page, please direct them to the Ford-SVT e-mail list: Ford-SVT@lists.Colorado.EDU If you have specific questions or would like to contact the author, please contact: Jeff Fisher

'96 Mustang GT and Cobra

In order to increase enthusiasts awareness and acceptance of it's tactics and strategy for the Mustang modular engine program, Ford is taking early pre-production 1996 GT and Cobra models to the Mustang club show circuit. The cars that have been shown are "pre-production", meaning that they do not necessarily represent the final appearance and/or content. The engines and drivetrains have been stated to be production representative; the bodies are essentially 1995 GT-level with only a few of the new updates present.

New Engines Exclusive to the Mustang!

The 5-liter engine has been completely removed from the Mustang product line. That engine in it's present form cannot meet the more stringent emissions and milage standards required by the Federal Government and is unable to satisfy the growing performance expectations of the ponycar market. Any further variations of the 5 or 5.7 liter engines are completely out of the question for exactly these same reasons.

Ford's vision of future engine technology revolves around far more sophisticated engines that can easily exceed these standards and expectations while still meeting the price points of it's intended market. This vision has delivered two unique engines that are exclusive to the Mustang. The new GT engine will be standard within the GT model line; the new Cobra engine will be standard to the Cobra and will not be available as a GT option.

Modular Engines: History and Preview

Both engines are members of Ford's "Modular Engine Family", meaning that basic design specifications and dimensions are shared across all members of the family. The intent of this commonality is to lower costs by allowing several different engines to built on the same assembly lines, with the same basic tooling. This strategy allows Ford to build the most sophisticated line of engines in the world in mass production volumes at a reasonable cost. It also provides the flexibility necessary to effectively compete in today's global market. New engines based on this common technology can be brought to market very quickly and cost effectively. Furthermore, new technologies being developed can easily and quickly be leveraged across the entire engine line.

The benefits to performance enthusiasts here are obvious. Instead of having to rely on 1960s technology dressed up in 1980s electronics, we now have leading edge powertrains that provide the best possible blend of sophistication, robustness, fuel economy, emissions, and performance. Every Mustang enthusiast will benefit enormously from Ford's strategic long-term investment.

Ford's modular engine program includes common V-6s, V-8s, V-10s, and even a rumored V-12. Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) and Double Overhead Cam (DOHC) designs drive 2- and 4-valves per cyliner. 4-cylinder engines haven't been created yet; the Zetec 4-cylnder engine found in the Contour is unrelated and is itself found in several common variations around the world.

The modular V-6 line includes a DOHC 2.5 used in the Contour and a larger-bore DOHC 3.0 found as an option in the '96 Taurus. A DOHC 3.4 V-8 version of the 2.5 engine will be offered in the upcoming '96 Taurus SHO and '97 Sable SHO. All 3 engines use aluminum blocks and heads and feature 4 cams with 4 valves per cylinder. The 3.4 V-8 introduces individual coils mounted on each spark plug. This simplifies cabling and enables ignition to be tailored to the unique demands of each cylinder.

A SOHC 4.6 V-8 engine has been standard in the Lincoln Town Car, Marquis, Crown Victoria, T-Bird, and Cougar for the last few years. A version of this SOHC 4.6 engine, modified for more low end torque, will be the base engine in the upcoming replacement for the F-150. A larger SOHC 5.4 (with an additional 29mm of deck height) will be an option. A SOHC V-10 engine will be optional for larger versions of the F-150. A DOHC 4.6 V-8, the basis for the Cobra engine, is the standard engine in the Mark-VIII (with either single or dual exhaust providing 280 and 290 horsepower respectively), and yet another variation of this engine is standard in the '95 front wheel drive Continental.

The trade and enthusiast press have reported rumors of further future variations of these engines. Another variation of the DOHC 4.6 will be found in a spring-96 SVT Thunderbird. It will be limited in output to only 265 HP due to it's restrictive exhaust system. A high output SOHC 4.6 has been developed for a future Crown Vic police car. A future SVT Lightning is rumored to also use a V-10 engine. Rumors in the press report future 3.5 and 4.0 V-8s, as well as a midsize V-6 of less than 4 liters. Development of modular V-12 engines has been discussed for the Lincoln Town Car; a V-12 engine created by joining two modular V-6s is found in the GT-90 supercar. A 4-liter modular short-block will be supplied to Jaguar, who will add their own unique heads to produce an engine specific to a future Jaguar line.

Only time will tell if the rumors above are true. In any case, an unprecedented era of technical sophistication has bugun.

DOHC 4.6 V-8 Cobra Engine

The Cobra engine has numerous unique parts separating it from the other members of the DOHC 4.6 family. The aluminum 6-bolt block (4-bolt mains with cross bolting) is common with the Mark-VIII engine, however the Cobra engine is fitted with a special steel crank, unique rods, and 9.85 compression forged pistons. The engine also sports a fully baffled windage tray, with crank scrapers.

The Cobra heads are unique to this version of the basic engine, and of course feature aluminum construction, a DOHC layout, and 4 valves per cylinder. Valve sizes here are the same as the Mark engine; camshafts are unique. The basic castings differ from the standard DOHC head only in flow characteristics.

An 80-mm aluminum MAF is used with a very large cone-shaped air filter housing. This assembly was also used in the 1995 Cobra R model. A plastic tube, crimped slightly to fit under the new strut tower brace, leads to an 1100-CFM dual throttle body. The area on the throttle body between the dual inlets is aerodynamically specially-shaped for optimum airflow. This throttle body was last used in the 604 cubic inch BOSS Mustang show car.

The Cobra intake manifold is plastic and incorporates numerous design features to enhance airflow and torque. A large Cobra applique on the top of the manifold clearly identifies this engine. The plenum chamber is located low within the V area of the block. 8 individual runners lead upwards from the plenum and then down again in an inverted "U" shape. They then split into 16 runners just above a secondary throttle system. This system closes off half the runners until 3500 RPM. After this point, a set of small secondary throttle blades located directly above each secondary intake port open to considerably enhance flow and maximum output. These secondarty throttles are controlled electronically by an actuator unit located on the rear underside of the intake manifold.

Valve covers are polished smooth aluminum. Plastic panels fit over the blue spark plug wire leads; no other indication or differentiation is made to further distinqush this engine. However, while the basic engine is built on the same line as the other 4.6s, some special assembly is done separately. To further enhance the mystique of the SVT marque, each engine will feature the signature of it's final builder.

SOHC 4.6 V-8 GT Engine

The GT engine also features several parts unique to the Mustang. The intake manifold is again plastic, and in this case features a running horse emblem on it's topside. A single small throttle body leads to a large plenum located within the V of the engine. 8 individual runners lead to each intake port. This engine does not feature the special crank, rods, or pistons of the Cobra engine. The iron block features 2-bolt mains, with an additional 2 crossbolts for additional strength and integrity.

Features Common to Both 4.6 Engines

The basic design features of both engines are completely in common with the other members of the 4.6 engine family. Cylinder head bolts travel completely through the engine block for maximum sealing strength. A single belt and tensioner drive the accessories and water pump; dual timing chains with separate tensioners drive the overhead camshafts. Timing chains were chosen over less durable belts, which would require replacement at 60k miles. A special procedure is needed to adjust the chain tensioners.

Both engines utilize a side-facing throttle body located to the left side (from the front) of the engine. This simplifies and enhances airflow routing, as oppossed to other applications of the 4.6 which utilize an upwards-facing rear-mounted throttle body. This would have required extraordinarily long air cleaner tubing and a 90 degree downward turn just before the throttle body.

All accessories are mounted directly on the engine with the absolute minumum of bracketry. Large unweildy brackets that would add unwanted vibration, noise, and complexity are not used. Accessories on both engines consist of an alternator mounted in the V area, an air conditioner compressor mounted on the lower passenger side, and a power steering pump mounted on the lower driver side. The engines are so efficient that an air pump is not needed.

Both engines utilize the EEC-V engine control computer, as well as the new federally mandated On-Board Diagnostics-II (OBD-II) system. OBD-II is a diagnostic system only, and will allow reasonable ("clean") levels of modification to be made to the engine. When the OBD-II system finds the engine is creating pollutants outside of it's defined boundaries, a "check engine" diagnostic light directs the owner to have the car diagnosed further at a dealer.

Because of the extreme width of both the Cobra and GT engines, a conventional vacuum booster cannot be fitted. This requires a new hydralic power brake system. The power steering pump performs double duty by supplying hydralic power to both the steering system and the brake boosting system. A series of hoses lead hydralic fluid from the power steering pump to an electric boost pump mounted near the brake fluid reservoir. An external fluid reservoir is mounted to the right-side cam cover. Oddly, the power steering cooler found on the 94/5 cars is replaced on the prototype cars with a single loop cooler.

Both 4.6 engines are equipped with a very thorough water coolant system. The cooling fan is electric and the radiator is a larger aluminum version than used in prior Mustangs. The system also features a de-gas system, the purpose of which is to remove gas that accumulates at the top of the radiator and in the cooling passages. This enhances the cooling process by keeping the radiator full of coolant at all times. This is a lesson learned from the Cobra R models, both of which featured a de-gas system.

Both engines use a water-to-oil cooling system integrally cast with the lower radiator outlet fitting and oil filter adapter. This entire casting bolts to the lower front side of the engine. A "shorty" oil filter is used.

Oxygen sensors (4 in all) are located both before and after each of the main catylsts. The sensor network is used to determine the operating efficiency of the catylsts by measuring the oxygen content of the exhaust gas before and after treatment by the converters. The EEC-V computer can then make minute adjustments to the engine tuning parameters, reporting any out-of-range or fatal errors to the OBD-II system, and enhancing the overall emissions and performance characteristics of the engine.

Exhaust manifolds for both engines are cast iron. While this might seem to be a backwards step at first, it was necessitated by the strict sealing requirements dictated by the new emissions control system. Iron is used because even a small oxygen leak into the exhaust system would severely disrupt the readings from the oxygen sensors. Both engines use an intake mounted EGR valve, featuring a very long tube supplying hot exhaust gas from the rear of the engine.

The exhaust systems remains a true-dual system, with 4 catalytic converter housings (6 catylst beds) and 2.25" stainless tubing ending in the familar chrome tips. The converters have been stated to be much less restrictive than in the past (the 94/95 are particularly bad). Mufflers have been designed to provide a slightly more agressive note than in the past.

New Transmissions

Both the GT and Cobra feature the new Borg Warner T-45 as the standard manual transmission. This 5-speed box is very closely related to the well-known T-56 transmission. With the same shaft centerline to centerline distance as the T-56, torque ratings and durability will be far improved. The T-45, however, does not feature the split bellhousing design of the T-56.

Gear ratios are basically similar to the current T-5, however, 5th gear is a .76 overdrive. This will aid responsiveness, keep the free-breathing engines in their most efficient zones, and perhaps even allow racers to get into 5th gear on a roadcourse!

Rearend ratios are 2.73 for the GT and 3.27 for the Cobra. There are no optional ratios, any of which would require separate certification and would therefore be cost prohibitive to offer.

An automatic will only be offered on the GT. It's the same auto box that is used on other 4.6 engine installations. This transmission features far better gear ratios, durability, capability, and shift characterictics over the prior obsolete (and despised) AOD tranny.

Suspension

Engine packaging requirements nessitated a new front crossmember. Ford used the opportunity to considerably improve geometry. The new crossmember provides better camber and caster characteristics, with reduced brake dive. It also uses a new and stronger lower cross brace. Ford has stated that both cars understeer considerably less than before.

Ride height remains the same on both cars, which continue to show as much "wheelwell" as the earlier cars do. Both cars also appear to have very soft suspensions. The Cobra moves up to a 29-mm front sway bar.

Brakes continue as before; the rumor of rear PBRs unfortunately appears to be unfounded. The Cobra's front 13" rotors and PBR dual-piston aluminum calipers are nearly indestructable under most race conditions and need no changes. The GT's much smaller pistons and rotors continue as before.

Interior

Only minor changes have been shown in the prototypes. The Cobra is equipped with an 8000 RPM tachomoter, which is redlined at 7000 RPM and is marked with a "Premium Unleaded" label. Redline of the GT SOHC engine is 6000 RPM.

Both cars now feature ignition keys with embedded security chips. Because the keys are coded to the EEC-V processor itself, the engines cannot be started without the key under any circumstances.

Both cars also feature a reworked shifter. The shaft appears to be shorter, while the leather-wrapped knob is taller. The contours of the knob are unchanged.

Exterior

Sheetmetal is unchanged, however, several detail changes are evident. The GT sports "GT 4.6" tags. Both cars now have grills - a honeycombed design similar to the early 70s Mustang. New hood latches are also found.

All 1996 Mustangs feature a new 3-bar vertical taillamp design. Ford has taken considerable criticism in this area since the introduction of the 1994 models. It remains to be seen whether a vertical rather than horizontal alignment can help the overall balance of the rather bulbous rear end.

Exclusive body and appearance items continue to differentiate the Cobra. The front cap is the familar Cobra peice, however, the rear bumper cap now features large (and unfortunately unsubtle) "COBRA" lettering. The Cobra prototype wears the GT's rear decklid and wing, however, this is probably unlikely in final production guise.

The GT continues with the standard Mustang hood. The Cobra is given a new hood featuring the hood scoops formerly seen on the Mach III show car. On the Mach III, they were used to route air into that car's restrictive and impractical dual air cleaner and MAF system. On the Cobra, they won't be (and could not be) functional for several reasons. The scoops could not be used to direct cold air to the engine air cleaner element because they aren't located in an efficient or desirable location. Nor could they exhaust hot air, which would be immediately drawn into the air conditioning system of the car. Unfortunately, the new hood is not in keeping with a "form follows function" design theme.

The '96 Mustang wears four scoops, none of them useful functionally. Four isn't the record for Ford: that was found on the '69/70 Shelby which sported 9 scoops of varying value. The rear/side scoops introduced on the '94 are quasi functional; they direct air onto the outside edge of the rear tire - a pointless area. Ford design drawings have been seen featuring Shelby-type side scoops ducting air directly onto the rear brakes, but these haven't been seen in production or the aftermarket yet.

Options

Options are basically the same as 1995. The GTS as a separate model is no longer offered. The GT can be stripped of content with an option delete package to approximate the equipment decontent of the GTS.

As of this date, there are no known plans to provide either a convertible Cobra or a Cobra R model.

Cobras will be available in only 4 colors - White, Black, Laser Red (very different from the very nice Rio Red), and a new Mystic Clearcoat Metallic. This last color changes appearance drastically in differing light conditions.

Performance

The Cobra engine is rated at 305 horsepower and 285 pounds-feet of torque. The 0-60 times have been stated as 5.5 seconds, with a computer-limited 155 MPH top end. The torque curve of this engine is superb: maximum torque is available nearly throughout the entire RPM range. The older 5 liter engines will be seen as tractor-like in comparison.

The GT engine is rated at 215 horsepower in this application. Drivers familar with the 205 horsepower version of this engine found in the Thunderbird will find the same easy willingness to rev and accelerate. Just as this engine tremendously improved the Thunderbird performance over it's prior H.O. 5 liter, the base GT-4.6 will be far improved over the prior 5 liter cars. The overall drivability characteristics of this engine will even outpace the 95 and earlier Cobras.

A recent test of Mark-VIII derived prototype DOHC engines in '93 coupe bodies delivered high 12-second quarter mile times on drag race tires through T-5 transmissions. This is indicative of the final performance potential of the Cobra engine, even though the 94/96 cars are a couple of hundred pounds heavier.

The performance characteristics of this new Cobra engine suggest an even stronger overall performance than the 1995 Cobra R 5.7 liter engine delivered. With better suspension geometry, lighter front end weight, better balance, and an otherwise unchanged chassis, this new Cobra will easily outpace the heavier Cobra R on a roadrace track.

Pricing

GT prices were recently announced by Ford, and appeared in the press. They are essentially unchanged from 1995. The Cobra price has increased very slightly to approx. $24,800. The new paint color is approx. $800. Dealers have been given full notice of pricing as of this date. Unless SVT dealers engage in price gouging again, which is considerably less likely with better educated Cobra buyers and a 10,000 car build plan, Cobra enthusiasts will find the car to be affordable.

Comparison & Positioning

While the Cobra is obviously a technologist's dream, the overall drivability characteristics of the GT will also be considerbly higher than the prior 5 liter GT or Cobra. The GT engine should not be understated or overlooked solely because it's maximum output is less than the Cobra's. It is simply the most sophisticated V-8 engine found in any ponycar other than the Cobra.

Debate has raged on the information highway as to whether a performance buildup would better start with a 94/95 GT or a Cobra. SVT's plan has always been to clearly differentiate the two cars and to make the Cobra more exclusive. Bringing a GT up to the level of a Cobra was possible in the past but would be prohibitively expensive in 1996. Clearly a decision will be needed upfront as to the goals of the buyer. Nevertheless, the owner oriented towards making performance modifications will find two excellent platforms from which to begin.

Performance Mod Potential: Drivetrain

Performance enthusiasts will find that both engines will provide an excellent basis for modifications. Numerous companies are already at work on superchargers, with 300 horsepower being the typical output of low-boost SOHC kits at this time. That number will go even higher as experience is gained. Because of far better breathing, these engines will far eclipse the performance peaks found by 5 liter tuners.

It is very clear that nearly every possible means have been used to maximize flow on both the GT and Cobra engines. However, the GT uses what appears to be a very small throttle body. Both cars use the aforementioned cast iron exhaust headers. Also, tremendous gains will be found from camshaft changes, although the procedure to change the cams is much more involved than most enthusiasts will want to undertake.

This is the first late model Mustang that won't require a transmission change from the addition of a supercharger. The T-45 should be strong enough to take 400 foot pounds with ease, and the automatic has been given an even higher rating. This will save considerable difficulty for Mustang performance enthusiasts. The only clear benefit of a T-56 would be for owners requiring extra tall rear end gearing for drag racing. The .5 to .6 ratio 6th gear would be necessary to provide a reasonable highway RPM level.

The T-45 transmission does not feature the T-56's split bellhousing, so interchangability appears unlikely. Also, unfortunately, the 4.6 features an entirely different bellhousing bolt pattern than the older Ford small block engines. So, there doesn't appear at this point in time to be any means for aftermarket tuners to mount a T-56 transmission to this engine without creating an entirely new bellhousing.

With weak low-RPM torque, and with horsepower fairly high up in the band, the new engines would undoubtedly benefit considerably from better gearing - starting with at least a 3:73 ratio. Drag racers will find a 4:10 ratio or higher to be ideal; road racers may want to keep the stock gearing and use some of the .76 overdrive fifth gear to reach the governed 155 MPH top end.

Proper cooling of both engines will be critical. A 4-core aluminum radiator with an excess of capacity would be an excellent aftermarket investment. And, because the loss of a complete engine will be an expensive (!) event, additional - and calibrated - oil and water temperature gauges that mount cleanly in the car would be a wise investment by racers.

A casting which eliminates the water-to-oil system and adds a take-off for a proper air-to-oil cooler would also be appreciated by racers. This type of cooler would be far more efficient then stock. The best implementation would include a thermostatic control, so that the engine can warm up properly (crucial for both emissions and the aluminum components).

Development work is already taking place both within Ford and by aftermarket manufacturers on tubular exhaust headers. It has already been stated several months ago that a proper set of exhaust headers would produce as much as 40 additional horsepower. Proper sealing in regards to exhaust or oxygen leakage will require a new generation of manifold gasket quality and integrity. It has also been reported that the K-member will need to be dropped from the body in order to install the headers. This remains to be seen, and will undoubtedly be another challenge to aftermarket designers.

An appearance option that immediately comes to mind would be a cast-aluminum replacement for the split-inlet upper water tube with engrained "COBRA" lettering. This isn't an original idea: the original 60's Cobra-R models had a surprisingly similar part. The investment in this peice would serve to further differentiate an engine whose owner would have every reason be very proud of.

If the power steering system does indeed use only a simple loop for cooling, then a proper aftermarket cooler will be necessary. Mustangs traditionally boil their power steering fluid at race track speeds, even in the 94/95 models. Boiling fluid here would lead to the loss of some power brake assistance.

While some may feel that the combination of the EEC-V processor and OBD-II diagnostics may prohibit development of aftermarket peices, this simply isn't true. What is does mean is that the bar is raised; just as Ford performance enthusiasts had to experiment their way thru the addition of electronic fuel injection in the early '80s, a similar learning period will be required here. Because of the enhanced diagnostics, it will be far more difficult to produce an aftermarket part which ends up significantly increasing the pollution output of the engine (or more correctly said, selling and establishing a good reputation with a part which causes the engine to tell it's owner it is running poorly). The basic principle still holds that a part which increases the performance of the engine "cleanly" only does so because it increases the basic efficiency of the engine.

The Future

As always, rumors abound concerning the future of the Mustang. The Mustang will never benefit from the type of financial investment that the best-selling Taurus has received. This means that it will take considerably longer to get parts such as an entirely new suspension. However, Mustang enthusiasts have been happy to see Ford realize that Mustangs can indeed sell in profitable numbers - as long as the car isn't allowed to slowly deteriorate over as long a period as the last version (79-93) did, and as long as the car is kept as up-to-date as necessary for the target market segment.

Ford has also recognized that there are two ways to loose potential Mustang customers to the competition. The first type of customer is seeking sheer performance at the expense of overall product quality. The second type is a more affluent buyer looking for better all-around characteristics beyond just performance. The first set of buyers usually need to stay in the same price range and switch to domestic competition; the second set usually switchs to imports. Ford certainly won't sacrifice quality in it's response. Instead, Ford has leveraged both it's engine technology and it's SVT philosophy to appeal to both sets of customers. Ford is the only automotive company to attempt to realistically address this problem within the same product line. This is a characteristic that has always been an inherent and unique strength of the Mustang. The success of Ford's strategy has been reflected in the extraordinarily successful sales of the 94/5 model years.

A Ford exec has stated in an interview that the Mustang program has money budgeted for at 1 styling change in it's lifespan - which will run from 1994 to 2002. Spy pictures of any changes beyond 1996 haven't been seen yet, although one company's 427-powered Mustang mockup was mistaken for a 1997 Mustang by the press.

Of particular interest in the current rumor mill is an Eaton supercharged Cobra engine producing in excess of 400 HP. It's rumored to be destined for both a future Mark-VIII LSC (which perhaps has necessitated the unsightly hood bulge found on the '96 Mark), as well as a future "King" Cobra.

Rumors of an independent rear suspension in 98 have been circulating over the past month. Alledgedly, the IRS will be taken from the Thunderbird. The Thuderbird hand-me-down strategy has yielded brakes, front and rear suspension parts, and a new wiring harness in past years. It's been known for some time that this suspension is a near bolt-in exchange. However, a couple of things to keep in mind just to keep this rumor in perspective:

Any new/changed rear suspension will require a very expensive series of crash tests. This would incur prohibitive costs for a run of only 10,000 or less Cobras per year.
· The T-Bird suspension has excellent geometry. However, weight is a very serious - even prohibitive - factor. Expect at least a 300-pound gain. This would very effectively negate the horsepower gains of the '96 model year. The suspension is heavy because it consists of numerous steel stampings. If this were indeed a world-class suspension, it would have forged aluminum castings to keep the weight reasonable. And, a 300 pound weight gain would put the Mustang in a different weighing class in EPA tests. This would require a detuning of the engine in order to maintain the bare minimum ratings. This is why the 94 Mustang wasn't a shortened Thunderbird, which was originally planned and dropped because of excessive weight.
· A car magazine ran a test a couple of years ago of a Ford experimental T-Bird, with an excess of 400 horsepower. The suspension held up, but wheel hop was severe. Even with a "good" IRS, this will be a very serious problem. Anyone who has driven a 400-plus horsepower RX-7, for example, will have experienced this problem. Some re-engineering will be necessary to overcome this problem.
· The T-Bird uses a mid-mounted gas tank, both for clearance and crash-worthiness purposes. Switching to this wouldn't be absolutely necessary in a Mustang transplant. Extensive packaging changes to the exhaust system would be required in either case.
· At last year's Detroit Auto Show, a Ford engineer reportedly told the press that the next new Mustang in 2002 would feature an IRS as standard equipment.

The "Competition''

The competition has made minor "token" technological investments over the last few years to help their compromised 1950s level powerplants to struggle on for a few short years before the inflexible demands of emissions, fuel economy regulations, and market requirements require it to make a real investment in new engines. Additional "bandaids" in the form of dual catylists and better air induction will only serve to buy them a few years more.

Even though this same corporation has designed and built a more modern DOHC V-8 engine, it cannot be built cost effectively in quantity. The older powerplants are inevitably doomed; their replacements will raise costs considerably and take financial resources away from other development areas and shareholder dividends. A "sanctioning body" rule change won't create an unfair dominance in this case!

Summary

The economics of a maintaining a chassis which shares no common parts with any other Ford lines has dictated a strategy of staged enhancements. By staging the introduction of the new engines, Ford has created the best Mustangs of the past 30 years at a very reasonable price. This same stratagy serves to keep the cars reasonably up-to-date, keeps them distinquishable from the competition, and helps attract and maintain press and market focus on the car. It also holds price increases down to only a few percentage points a year. Future updates will eventually yield the "dream Mustang" all of us forsee, but which none of us could afford if it were to be offered all at once.