"R is for Race"

     Ben O'Brien's '93 Cobra R

“I was a chevy guy in high school, but in ‘88 I bought my first foxbody, easy to work on, fast, and the parts were cheap”
— Ben O'Brien


    Back in the fall of 1992, a man by the name of Steve Anderson received a call from Ford racing, regarding the possibility of building a race only version of the upcoming '93 Cobra. At the time, Steve was the supervisor of Special Vehicle Engineering for Ford, and was ultimately made the godfather of what would be the first and only competition prepped fox body Mustang. To make the project a reality, Steve assembled a team of engineers, and a man by the name of Paul Rossi. Rossi was a professional road race driver, and would be in charge of testing the car and offering recommendations for improvement. After hundreds of hours of testing, including a 24 hour marathon at Willow Springs Raceway, it was agreed that the biggest shortcomings of the car were the suspension, cooling, and brakes. While more power was also requested, the bean counters at Ford axed the idea citing that it was not cost effective for such a limited run. Once all the data was compiled, Anderson made his proposal to the brass at Ford, and was given the green light to build the '93 R. 

    Ford officially announced the car on April 7th of 1993, and opened the car for orders April 15th 1993. At 8:30 a.m the fax machine was turned on to receive orders for the car, and the entire run of 107 units were sold out by noon that day. With an MSRP of $25,692, the car was only available to owners who agreed to use the vehicle for sanctioned competition. 

    The differences between the R and its street going brethren were many, and were focused on the aforementioned suspension, cooling, and brakes. The engine itself was identical to the rest of the Cobra run, from throttle body to oil pan. The radiator was upgraded to a larger unit, and a de-gas tank was added from the Probe GT, to keep air out of the system. The fan clutch was also modified to hold tighter at low speeds, and free wheel earlier at high RPM. The air conditioning was deleted, and an air-to-oil cooler was mounted behind the driver side fog light opening, thus upping the oil capacity to six quarts. 

   The suspension and brakes are where the changes are most notable. Starting off, a rocker panel stiffener was borrowed from the convertible foxes, and welded into place instead of the typical pop rivets. Next up was a strut to firewall brace, which ties the front of the car together and reduces flex. The springs were upgraded to progressive-rate units, which lower the car about an inch. Next on the docket were adjustable Koni "yellow" shocks, and both the front and rear sway bars were upgraded with larger units. The braking system was beefed up via PBR twin piston calipers, with vented 13" rotors. An SN95 spindle was used for it's added strength, and sealed bearing assembly. Out back, 10.5" disks were borrowed from the Lincoln Mark VII, which work perfectly with the larger disks up front. The wheels are from the yet-to-be released '94 GT, albeit with black painted spokes, and polished center cap. The tires were the ever popular Goodyear Gatorbacks, measuring 245/45/17. An interesting fact about the cars is they were transported wearing the four lug pony wheel in the front, and the black Tri-Bar wheels in the rear. The cars were later upgraded to the 13" brakes by MascoTech, who handled the final assembly. 

    Inside the cars, they were all business as well. I mean they are race cars right? Essentially everything that could be removed to save weight was given the boot. No sound deadener, no air conditioning, crank windows, base model seats, rear seat delete, and even the radio is absent. Only one interior color was available, being Opal Gray cloth. The total weight savings from the bare bones interior was claimed to be 130 pounds.  

    This specific example is #039 of 107, and was built 4/27/1993. Ben O'Brien who was once a self admitted "chevy guy," owns this rare piece of foxbody history. Back in 1988, Ben bought his first fox; an '88 GT that was black with red interior. In 1998, Ben bought a '93 Cobra with over 100K miles on it, and used it as his daily driver. At around 170k miles, a valve spring dropped, and took the motor out with it. After that, Ben totally restored the car, and still owns it to this day. Once all of the kids were grown, Ben took his fox body Mustang passion into overdrive adding a '86 comp prep SVO, Teal '93 Cobra, '89 GSP SSP, and an '89 Saleen SSC. The '93 R was the missing piece to Ben's collection, giving him a garage chock full of ultra rare, and desirable fox bodies. 

    The story behind these cars is truly an interesting one. From how they came to be, to where the cars are now. Many of them did see track duty, and were very competitive, still others live their days out in climate controlled garages. These cars were touted by Ford as the best handling and braking fox body Mustang ever built. Aside from tuner cars like Saleen and SAAC, they truly were. With production coming to a close that year, and ending the fox body Mustang era, I am glad Ford chose to give us one last model. An R model. CR

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