Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Ford Mustang Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Ford Mustang Overview

Body
The Most Venomous Snake on the Planet

Since the demise of its long-time rivals the Camaro and Firebird, the Mustang has roamed the streets of America relatively unchallenged. With no other horses to run against, you'd think there wouldn't be much incentive to improve upon an already great platform; but that's not how things are done at Ford. For 2004, the Special Vehicle Team—or SVT for short-has raised a new breed of thoroughbred, one that is covered in scales and strikes without warning: the Cobra. If you want all-out, balls-to-the-wall performance, this is the Mustang you must own; while the Mustang GT is good, the SVT Cobra simply trumps it at every turn.

To build a true muscle car, you need to have a pretty solid base from which to start and luckily for the SVT team, the base Mustang GT offers them just that. The current platform has been in production for ten years now; though it has received numerous tweaks and updates over the years, the car is about as good as its going to get. The Cobra builds on the Mustang base by first stiffening the chassis; additional bracing can be found wherever vibration or flex may occur, a necessary addition in order to accommodate the Cobra's torque-happy V8. The SVT Cobra also has exterior styling differences that are more than just cosmetic. The wide front grille and prominent air-intakes help feed air to the engine while two huge air-extractor vents saddle the lightweight hood. The Cobra treatment also includes a deeply recessed set of fog lights, custom side skirts and a larger rear spoiler. The SVT Cobra is also available as a convertible, though in this form the car is not as rigid and is more prone to flex.

Inside, the SVT Cobra gets a much-needed set of improved sport seats that feature wide side bolsters, a high-back design and power adjustments for the lumbar, thigh and seat position. Titanium accents are used to distinguish this car's cabin from lesser Mustangs, as is the use of premium leathers and suede seat inserts. The SVT Cobra comes fairly loaded and you'll find such necessary creature comforts as air conditioning, cruise control, four-wheel disc brakes and the 460-watt Mach 460 audio system.

Pop the hood and you'll find a Roots-type Eaton supercharger firmly attached to the car's 4.6-liter V8. Unlike a turbo charged car that relies on exhaust gas to spool up the turbo, a supercharger is belt driven, so there is no turbo lag. In the case of the SVT Cobra, the amount of low-end torque that is available right from the get-go is earth shaking. Never mind that the engine is pumping out 390 horsepower at its peak, there is 390 lb-ft. of torque just waiting to spin the wheels at a mere 3500-rpm. The SVT Cobra's V8 emits a satisfying burble that only a big V8 can; it's a complete flashback moment for anyone old enough to remember cars like the Boss and the Goat.

To make the most of the engine's generous power output, the SVT Cobra comes standard with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. This is by far the best gearbox placed in a Mustang and huge improvement over the truck-like five-speed found on the GT. Though the clutch is still heavy, it's much more enjoyable to row through the gears on the Cobra; it's also almost irresistible to pop the clutch at every opportunity.

Straight-line acceleration is blisteringly fast and requires only that you be pointed in the direction of wide-open space to enjoy the ride. When it comes time to carve out curves, things get a little more technical. The SVT Cobra comes equipped with a fully-independent rear end that—in conjunction with the fat Flintstone-mobile-like tires—practically insures that you won't break free from the pavement so long as you keep control of the car's oversteer. The SVT Cobra's standard traction control is also standing by, should you get in over your head. You will notice that the SVT Cobra gets a bit jittery on broken and uneven pavement, but not the point of severe hop or breakaway. The stiff suspension returns an equally stiff ride, something car enthusiasts have become accustomed to but that first-time buyers may find harsh.

Laying huge patches of rubber and releasing small cumulous clouds of smoke may impress the youngsters in the neighborhood, but it's from behind the SVT Cobra's wheel that the adults get schooled. This is a medium-weight car with a whole lot of power, so unless you're well-trained in performance driving, we strongly suggest you take it slow until you've spent a few days at a good driving school. If you respect the SVT Cobra, it will bring you hours of sheer driving joy; if you drive it foolishly, it will take only a spilt second to ruin a good time.

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