Fierce, fiery, and all-out menacing, the Cobra R model Mustangs have become legendary among Ford enthusiasts.
With limited production, the SVT Cobra Rs showed Ford could build and sell streetable yet raceable Mustangs right from the showroom floor. Just 107 R models were produced for '93 and in only one color—Vibrant Red. It was the ultimate Fox Mustang. Compared to the regular SVT Cobra models, the R came with special wheels and brakes, and without A/C, radio, cruise-control, a backseat, or other luxury options. The R was all business.
The R returned in 1995—this time with a torquey 300hp 5.8L Windsor engine—and Mustang fanatics went nuts. With a limited production of 250 in Crystal White paint, it would be the last pushrod 351 Mustang ever built. A center-tiered fiberglass hood was added to make headway for the taller engine, and all models had the basic cloth interior in tan. Furthermore, it took a sanctioned racing license to buy one.
For its third and final appearance in 2000, with only 300 avaliable units, Ford went all out. The Cobra R got a brute (for the time) 385hp 5.4 DOHC modular V-8 fitted with what was termed (partly in jest) by sources at Ford the most expensive intake manifold ever designed by Ford. The engine had loads of power and growled from the side exhaust.
The '00 had more special content than any other R, and most notable was the functional and removable front-splitter and mountaintop rear spoiler. The last R also got Brembo brakes, 18-inch Cobra R wheels, Recaro seats, a bulging hood, and the aforementioned side exhaust. Indeed, Ford kept its promise in producing a limited-production performance car that held its place for race-inspired enthusiasts, each better than the last.
Most would consider themselves lucky to even get a glimpse of a real Cobra R in person—rarely do you actually come across an owner driving one in action. Typically speaking, most Cobra Rs are stored away in climate-controlled garages or preservation bubbles, never to see the likes of sunlight or the road again. It's a misfortune, the R never setting out to do what it was intended for.
A lot of people keep their Cobra Rs in the garage and don't drive them. I like to drive my cars ...
Bob Seylhouwer, however, does what most car collectors can't even fathom—simply driving his car. Owner of this '00 R, Number 118 of 300, he not only drives it, but he's modified it and races it.
You might be asking yourself, "Is he crazy?" Well, we thought that for a moment too, and maybe that's what really got our attention, but when it comes down to it, pushing rarity aside, we're glad to see someone break away from the norm.
"I bought the car on eBay 7 years ago," Bob told us. "I paid $48,500 for it, and also put another $25,000 into it. A lot of people keep their Cobra Rs in the garage and don't drive them. I like to drive my cars and just simply enjoy them."
Bob turned up the heat for his Snake—he contacted Robert Ansick, owner of Forced Air Technologies of Phoenix, to do so. Utilizing the factory internals, Robert set up the R with a one-off turbo, featuring a 76mm Garrett turbo and hefty in-house tuning. This netted 600 rwhp; that was plenty of power for two years, but Bob finally wanted more.
"Bob plays a hard game," Ansick told us. "He's a professional racer and came to me again looking for something even faster."
Sticking with the stock compression ratio, but wanting internal components capable of holding over 1,000 hp, Ansick ditched the factory connecting rods and forged-aluminum pistons in favor of Probe pistons and Carrillo rods. A call to Turbos Direct out of Glendale, Arizona, yielded a Garrett 87mm turbo. Starting from scratch, Ansick once again built a ground-up turbo system. On 12 psi, the wicked R cranked out an impressive 737 rwhp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
Despite the drastic power changes, the R retains most of its originality. Inside, the factory Recaro seats are still present, but sport Crow Enterprises five-point seat harnesses, as well as a custom fire-suppression system.
The front suspension consists of a full Maximum Motorsports tubular front end and coilover Bilstein shocks and struts. The IRS is fitted with a Torsen differential, 3.55 gears, 33-spline axles, and a custom diff cooler. Fuel is supplied from the factory 21-gallon fuel cell with an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump.
As mentioned, Bob doesn't just drive his car on the street, he races it too. He previously held the record at the High Noon Shootout in Arnold, Nevada, with a top speed of 150 mph in the half-mile race. He has also competed in the 55-mile rally road race at the Sandhills Open Road Challenge, also held in Nevada.
"People are amazed someone took such a rare car and threw a huge turbo on it," Bob explained. "The fact that there were only 300 Cobra Rs ever made and they were meant for road racing is what initially sold me on the car. I don't think it will ever be as valuable as an original Shelby—at least, not in my lifetime—and that's why I don't mind driving it."
The Cobra R holds a self-proclaimed victory as a road race contender from Ford, but it's people like Bob who really put the R name in the spotlight. Sure we can drool over a pristine, low-mileage R wrapped in a preservation suit, but honestly, where's the fun in that?
We salute you, Bob, in your racing efforts and for taking your Cobra R one step further.