Classic Cool: SN95 Ford Mustang

Call it an update on a classic standby. That was the story behind the new-for-1994 Mustang.

For the first time since the late ’70s, the Mustang finally had new sheet metal. It still resembled Ford’s iconic pony car, though, thanks to that long-hood, short-deck profile. Meanwhile, its modernized face jibed with the rest of Ford’s current lineup. So did the interior’s dual-cockpit setup.

Underneath, though, was a familiar story: front struts and a live rear axle secured by four control arms. The engines were also holdovers: the Essex V6 in the base car and Ford’s popular 5.0 V8 in the Mustang GT.

The Mustang may have been mostly new for 1994, but the upgrades and special-edition models quickly followed:

1994: Standard Mustang GT not enough to run with Camaros? The optional SVT Cobra added the GT-40 engine and bigger brakes.

1995: Ford revived the Cobra R, producing 250 copies, each powered by a 5.8-liter Windsor. Konis and a fuel cell came standard.

1996: Ford replaced the Mustang GT’s tried-and-true 5.0 with its then-new 4.6-liter Modular V8–still 215 horsepower but a bit smoother in operation. The Cobra received a DOHC Modular V8 rated at 305 horsepower.

1998: Mustang GT output increased to 225 horsepower.

1999: Ford applied its sharply creased New Edge styling to the Mustang while bumping GT output to 260 horsepower. The Cobra also received independent rear suspension and a claimed 320 horsepower–which dynos found to be optimistic, causing Ford to stop Cobra sales and issue a recall.

2000: Ford offered another track-tuned Cobra R, this one powered by a 385-horsepower, 5.4-liter Modular V8.

2001: Ford restarted standard Cobra production while also unveiling the Bullitt. Steve McQueen would have dug the Dark Highland Green paint, lowered stance and five-spoke wheels.

2003: More retro goodness: Ford brought back the Mach 1, complete with shaker hood scoop.

2004: This was the final year for the SN95-chassis Mustang. Ford offered a 40th Anniversary Edition of the SN95.

Why You Want One

• There’s an SN95 for every budget, from clapped-out heaps to the $70,000 recently paid for a legit 2000 Cobra R sporting just 136 miles. Cobras, Bullitts and really nice GTs start around $10,000, plus or minus a few grand.

• The SN95 continues to be found in nearly every competition arena, from autocross and drifting to track events and road racing. We hear that you can drag race them, too.

• Giant aftermarket. Like, very giant.

• Grew up on Civics? How about some serious torque for a change?

• The SN95 is easy to work on with great access to important components.

• Some models, like the Bullitt, Cobra R and Mach 1, are bona fide collectibles. You can even track their values on the Hagerty site.

Practical Guidance

Our experts: 
Jamie Bell & Scott Boda 
Steeda Autosports
(800) 950-0774

Purchase the best car you can afford. Do not buy someone’s problem car. Have it checked out by a qualified tech that knows these cars. Ford made them in large numbers, so you need to be picky when looking to purchase. Very good cars are out there if you are willing to look. Expect to pay more for desirable cars: 2003-’04 Cobras, the 1995 Cobra R, and the 2001 Cobra R.

The V6 chassis may be the best base for a custom build or for a race car. They are modified less than their V8 brothers.

I think, for the SN95, the 4.6 and 5.0 are even, although the 5.0 can be modified less expensively. Now, if a 1999 New Edge is an option, then I would go ’99-up all day. They had the PI heads and made a good amount more power.

Clutch controls were weak, but all parts are still made. Heater core leaks are expensive to fix as the dash has to be removed. These cars are 20 years old now and will need to be repaired due to age.

Manual cars will need a good shifter and clutch control upgrades. Adjustable clutch cables get rid of problematic clutch pedal feel.

Recent Sale

Photo courtesy Bring a Trailer

Photo courtesy Bring a Trailer

Model: 1996 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

Price: $13,375

Condition: Only 10,452 miles.

Sold by: Bring a Trailer, April 2019

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
gumby
gumby Reader
11/5/19 8:39 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:   2003: ...This was the final year for the SN95-chassis Mustang.

2004 was the last year SN95. S197 started in '05

And I am a bit surprised the Terminator didn't get a mention. Top of the heap '03-04, Eaton blower, end of production, etc

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
11/5/19 8:44 a.m.

In reply to gumby :

Amended. 

slowbird
slowbird Dork
11/5/19 8:51 a.m.

Maybe it's because I was 10 years old in 1995, but I really obsessively love the SN95. I can't believe I haven't owned one yet. I'm thinking 1995 Cobra R clone, but painted in the most radical purple color you ever saw. Or a 2000 Cobra R clone, but painted in neon freakin' green.

...I need to go search Craigslist for a while...

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
11/5/19 9:25 a.m.

As if I need another reminder of how old I am, my favorite magazine is now calling a car I bought brand new off the dealer lot a "classic". surprise

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
11/5/19 9:37 a.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

1994 was 25 years ago, and 25 years before 1994 was 1969. I can't imagine not considering any car from 1969 a classic only 25 years after the fact. It's crazy how time works when we've experienced it personally. 

slowbird
slowbird Dork
11/5/19 9:41 a.m.

The 85 years of automobiles from before I was born are OLD. The 34 years of automobiles since I was born are NEW. That's just how it is. :P

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/5/19 9:43 a.m.

There was also no '02 cobra, due to the intake manifold recall.

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
11/5/19 9:50 a.m.

SN95 and New Edge are pretty much recognized as separate models.

There is very little love for the early/original SN95; probably the most unloved Mustang since the Mustang II. Super cheap on the used market but some of the engine choices weren't very spectacular.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
11/5/19 10:29 a.m.
Jordan Rimpela said:

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

1994 was 25 years ago, and 25 years before 1994 was 1969. I can't imagine not considering any car from 1969 a classic only 25 years after the fact. It's crazy how time works when we've experienced it personally. 

To be clear, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just expressing my dismay at my own advancing age! laugh

Advan046
Advan046 UltraDork
11/5/19 10:44 a.m.

I liked this car only because there where two in my local SCCA autocrosses that were both quick monsters. They looked like fun. Never actually bought one though. 

Classic? Yes I admit it is now old. 

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
11/5/19 10:56 a.m.
ddavidv said:

SN95 and New Edge are pretty much recognized as separate models.

There is very little love for the early/original SN95; probably the most unloved Mustang since the Mustang II. Super cheap on the used market but some of the engine choices weren't very spectacular.

My blog: http://motorosophy.blogspot.com/

Agreed. These never looked very good to me personally, and the massive number of modular V8 options and the wierd internim period between it and the pushrod 5.0 would make getting performance anything difficult.

But they're great at recieving engine swaps aren't they? Has anyone done a more common DOHC V8, like a Toyota -UZ mill?

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
11/5/19 11:47 a.m.
slowbird said:

Maybe it's because I was 10 years old in 1995, but I really obsessively love the SN95. I can't believe I haven't owned one yet. I'm thinking 1995 Cobra R clone, but painted in the most radical purple color you ever saw. Or a 2000 Cobra R clone, but painted in neon freakin' green.

...I need to go search Craigslist for a while...

You could just buy my Cobra right here on the forum...

slowbird
slowbird Dork
11/5/19 11:52 a.m.

In reply to Javelin :

I may have caviar tastes, but I'm on a ramen noodles budget. cheeky

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
11/5/19 12:47 p.m.
slowbird said:

In reply to Javelin :

I may have caviar tastes, but I'm on a ramen noodles budget. cheeky

My price is more like a burger and fries budget.

slowbird
slowbird Dork
11/5/19 12:51 p.m.

In reply to Javelin :

True. But it's a running, driving Cobra. My searching has shown that currently, even V6 automatic convertibles (the trifecta of making me not want them) are $1500 or more. I was hoping to find something for around $500 even if it's in terrible condition and missing the engine.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
11/5/19 12:54 p.m.

I think these make excellent challenge cars.  Depending on the area, it's not hard to find one mechanically sound and already with some upgrades for $1500.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
11/5/19 1:08 p.m.

I bought my 97 Cobra when it was 5 years old and now its 22 years old. Dangit.

 

there is TONS out there on these cars and you can restore one, make it into a monster, whatever you want. Just remember that the chassis is a bandaided 1978 Ford Fairmont, so it takes some doing and some compromise to get very high levels of performance out of them. Mine is fairly stock (springs/shocks/sway/exhaust are the biggest mods) and I can still do fairly well at an autocross with it. 

 

Best car for you is all in what you want out of it.  it boils down to whether or not you want to build the motor. The mod motors are more reliable for track work, but hard to build for power, supercharging is the best option and kits are about $5k. The 5.0 is a builders delight. Tons of head/cam/etc options for them. 

Patientzero
Patientzero Reader
11/5/19 4:06 p.m.

I'm on my 3rd SN95 now.  The LS3 was the best thing I ever did to it.  I'm of the opinion that when Ford swapped to the mod motor in '96 that every Mustang should have had a 5.4 in it.  Especially since the Camaro had 5.7 for 3 years at that point.  But then again, when does Ford ever do anything that makes sense.

Even better than the 5.4 would have been developing the 5.8 with things like coil-on-plug, forward facing intake, aluminum block...

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/5/19 6:54 p.m.

I had a New Edge 3.8L, a New Edge 4.6L, and an SN95 5.0L. Call B.S. if you must, but the New Edge cars both felt significantly faster on the street than the 5.0L. Could be the 3.27 differential.

That 5.0L '95 was a beautiful car, though... forest green with tan tweed seats and a T-5.

The worst thing about these cars is how much people screw with them. 4.11 gears? Enjoy the extra shift in the quarter mile. (A T-56 swap will cause the same problem, FWIW, if you're one of the 4 people who actually did this vs. merely participating in the perpetual online circlejerk.)

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
11/5/19 7:36 p.m.

Just picked up an SN95 a month or so ago.  Last SN95 I owned was at least 10 years ago, so my memory had faded.  Having driven mine around some I'm remembering why I like them.  Mine is a '94, so I'm rollin' in my 5.0.  That engine makes glorious noises, my 15 year old son (who is part owner of the car) grins ear to ear every time I punch the throttle.  The car isn't exceptionally quick by today's standards, but that's an easy fix by yanking out the grandma 2.73 rear end gear.  Aftermarket support is cheap and plentiful.  For anyone on a budget looking to get into a fast and fun "muscle car", the SN95 is really hard to beat. 

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
11/5/19 8:33 p.m.

Honestly, the biggest problem with buying these cars nowadays is finding one that doesn't have a bunch of terrible mods.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/5/19 8:57 p.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

Happens with every car model out there. Especially depends on what you want to start with and your end goal.

I have no problem with starting with the base model v6/auto to make my end goal. Biggest problem is the weight in these cars. Even with the availability of carbon noses, fenders, one piece front ends, doors, roofs, decklids, and preformed lexan, if allowed by the rules, they are still "heavy" cars. The best all steel car I know of still was 26-2700#.

Patientzero
Patientzero Reader
11/5/19 9:03 p.m.
Ranger50 said:

... they are still "heavy" cars. The best all steel car I know of still was 26-2700#.

How is that heavy?  What class is a SN95 going to run in that would make it heavier than anything else?  Running in CAM I already need to add 250lbs of weight just to make my minimum 3300lbs and I'm running against newer Camaros/Mustangs that are 3500+

scottdownsouth
scottdownsouth HalfDork
11/5/19 9:09 p.m.

I was a mustang man from 82 till 91 and I loved the Mercury roachback, but I could not stand the new body style interior.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/5/19 9:34 p.m.

In reply to Patientzero :

Restricted mods heads up NA drag racing class. It's much easier to tech weight then more mods. BTDT. Took my fox body GT from 3200# to needing to add 50# with 170# me to make 2900#. Everyone else was at 3200# or more.

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/5/19 9:35 p.m.

I thought the SN95 interior (which carried over to New Edge) looked good and held up very well compared to the Fox interior.

No accounting for taste, though. My initial reaction to the SN95 exterior was that it was ugly / retro but it grew on me, especially after they ditched those goofy '94-95 taillights.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/5/19 9:55 p.m.
b13990 said:

4.11 gears? Enjoy the extra shift in the quarter mile.

Say wha??? 4.10's, 26" tires, 5400 rpm shift is ~5400 crossing the stripe in 4th gear. Before I replaced the slipping clutch, it was 5700 in the traps. And still had a limiter set to 6250....

bbender
bbender New Reader
11/5/19 10:23 p.m.

In reply to b13990 :

The SN95 interior was an improvement in function, even if you didn't like the form: the steering wheel is much closer to centered in front of the driver, unlike the Fox's, which was pretty offset to the right (which really bugged me).

I started to appreciate the "wrong" taillights when the '96 came out with the modular 4.6. Wrong tails meant "right" motor. :)

 

(I have a mildly-modded '95 here in the classified's, too, that I'm trying to find a home for)

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/5/19 10:25 p.m.
Ranger50 said:
b13990 said:

4.11 gears? Enjoy the extra shift in the quarter mile.

Say wha??? 4.10's, 26" tires, 5400 rpm shift is ~5400 crossing the stripe in 4th gear. Before I replaced the slipping clutch, it was 5700 in the traps. And still had a limiter set to 6250....

Well, if you shift at 5,400 RPM in a stock New Edge Mustang GT I think you're going to finish in 4th gear regardless of the lack of modifications. That's true. But I always shifted much later than that, because doing so made it entirely possible to finish in 3rd.

If you do crack the code and get one of those cars into the 13s bone stock, you might bounce off the limiter once or twice as you finish... which is fine. I think that's what Ford was going for.

Dootz
Dootz Reader
11/6/19 5:33 a.m.
gumby said:
David S. Wallens said:   2003: ...This was the final year for the SN95-chassis Mustang.

2004 was the last year SN95. S197 started in '05

And I am a bit surprised the Terminator didn't get a mention. Top of the heap '03-04, Eaton blower, end of production, etc

The Terminator is garbage value when you realize you can buy a Coyote S197 for the same price

Apexcarver said:

I bought my 97 Cobra when it was 5 years old and now its 22 years old. Dangit.

 

there is TONS out there on these cars and you can restore one, make it into a monster, whatever you want. Just remember that the chassis is a bandaided 1978 Ford Fairmont, so it takes some doing and some compromise to get very high levels of performance out of them. Mine is fairly stock (springs/shocks/sway/exhaust are the biggest mods) and I can still do fairly well at an autocross with it. 

 

Best car for you is all in what you want out of it.  it boils down to whether or not you want to build the motor. The mod motors are more reliable for track work, but hard to build for power, supercharging is the best option and kits are about $5k. The 5.0 is a builders delight. Tons of head/cam/etc options for them. 

Come on. The Fox/SN95 cars accomplished absolutely nothing in the name of handling. Literally everything in the front and rear is garbage for geometry. They need a ton of work before they feel like confident and competent corner-carvers. If you want to build a Mustang for handling, there's no reason to waste time and money when the S197 cars (V6 mainly) are dropping values really fast (practically on par with the New Edge GT).

 

b13990 said:

I thought the SN95 interior (which carried over to New Edge) looked good and held up very well compared to the Fox interior.

No accounting for taste, though. My initial reaction to the SN95 exterior was that it was ugly / retro but it grew on me, especially after they ditched those goofy '94-95 taillights.

The interior was good, only issues I found was the stupid "sitting upright rather than sitting in" feeling from the bucket seats and the steering wheel not being able to telescope. And how dare you! The '94-'95 tail lights were a good spin on the typical vertical 3-lightbar tail lights.

Dave M
Dave M HalfDork
11/6/19 5:43 a.m.

In reply to Dootz :

My new edge gt convertible is literally the worst handling car I've ever owned. My Odyssey handles better.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/6/19 6:21 a.m.
Tom_Spangler said:

As if I need another reminder of how old I am, my favorite magazine is now calling a car I bought brand new off the dealer lot a "classic". surprise

I remember seeing prototypes of the Mustangs as well as the late prototypes of the Mark VIII in one of my FCG rotations.  

It's interesting to see cars you knew as prototypes now as classics.  

Still don't want one, so many years after I've been working here.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
11/6/19 8:57 a.m.

I’m currently being taunted by a $1000 SN95 GT 5spd. Fortunately it needs keys & a windshield, and I’m not willing to gamble a grand on a car I can’t hear run. 

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/6/19 9:30 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett :

I would. Easily parted if not for the same grand spent plus some.

dbuckman
dbuckman
11/6/19 10:59 a.m.
ddavidv said:

SN95 and New Edge are pretty much recognized as separate models.

There is very little love for the early/original SN95; probably the most unloved Mustang since the Mustang II. Super cheap on the used market but some of the engine choices weren't very spectacular.

I am biased as I have a '96, but I always preferred the rounded lines of the 94-98.

shelbyz
shelbyz Reader
11/7/19 8:07 a.m.
Ranger50 said:

There was also no '02 cobra, due to the intake manifold recall.

 

IIRC, that was the reason for no Cobra in 2000 (other than the R).

It's been a while since I read it, but in his book "Iron Fist, Lead Foot", which is about how the Terminator came to be, former SVT director John Coletti talked about how the planned 2002 Cobra was canceled because he was not pleased that the SVT Focus was keeping up with it in spirited track driving during some testing well before their release.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/7/19 8:14 a.m.
shelbyz said:
Ranger50 said:

There was also no '02 cobra, due to the intake manifold recall.

 

IIRC, that was the reason for no Cobra in 2000 (other than the R).

It's been a while since I read it, but in his book "Iron Fist, Lead Foot", which is about how the Terminator came to be, former SVT director John Coletti talked about how the planned 2002 Cobra was canceled because he was not pleased that the SVT Focus was keeping up with it in spirited track driving during some testing well before their release.

Interesting theory- at the same time as that, there was a Turbo SVT Focus being worked on. Probably a little later than that, though.  It was an interesting car that didn't end up going anywhere due to more political issues than real ones.

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
11/7/19 12:36 p.m.
Dootz said:

Come on. The Fox/SN95 cars accomplished absolutely nothing in the name of handling. Literally everything in the front and rear is garbage for geometry. They need a ton of work before they feel like confident and competent corner-carvers.

That's called keeping with tradition. Same story as the original Falcon platform. wink
penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
11/8/19 1:19 p.m.
ddavidv said:
Dootz said:

Come on. The Fox/SN95 cars accomplished absolutely nothing in the name of handling. Literally everything in the front and rear is garbage for geometry. They need a ton of work before they feel like confident and competent corner-carvers.

That's called keeping with tradition. Same story as the original Falcon platform. wink

 

But, also, it's relatively easy and inexpensive to fix what Ford should have from the start. Plus, what other v8 manual pony car can you get for under 4k that doesn't look like a suppository (I'm looking at you 4th gen camaro)?

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