SVT still dead
Despite Mark Fields recent statement to the press, SVT as we knew it is still dead.
Putting an “SVT” badge on a vehicle (the wheels in the case of the GT500) means nothing more these days than getting an “XLT” badge on the back of your Explorer. It’s a badge that does not mean what it used to mean when SVE/T was physically present.
SVT engineering has been dispersed, SVT marketing is dead – but Ford still understands the power of the brand. The Shelby Mustang will continue to be engineered by the Mustang group (like any other special model), and the upcoming F150 will be engineering by the truck group.
And that’s exactly the way it needs to be. SVE/T “engineering” has been a disaster over the past 13 years. As the cars got more and more complicated – further away from their siblings - their engineering quality because progressively worse and worse. Testing time was rushed or squeezed down to the bare minimum in order to get models out the door and make assembly line schedules. Durability testing was clearly cut to almost nil (overheating Cobras were the rule for their entire run – getting progressively worse until the last bunch couldn’t be driven hard in hot climates for an extended period of time). Bushings fell apart, transmissions lost synchros. And the Ford GT was the absolute worse debacle of the bunch: The SHAME of the Ford GT ($19,000 dollars of fixes per vehicle, including the crankshaft “diaper”).
So while a lot of Ford-heads will make a loud noise this week when they see Mark Fields statement… forget about it. Those of us who have driven our SVTs into premature failure will be glad to know that Mustang and F-150 engineering is handling all of the development and all of the testing. Perhaps – BIG PERHAPS – future enthusiast versions of those cars will be able to be driven hard in hot southwestern climates (just getting home at night would be nice), much less at the roadrace track on track days (even SVT’s own Ford GT couldn’t survive it’s own weak-kneed track events).
But, then, there is another problem: Ford product development has all but forgotten true enthusiasts – people who like to turn their cars rather than just drive them in a straight line. The Mustang Cobra was chopped from the product plans last November by Fields personally, and the upcoming “sporty” F-150 with the SVT logo on the wheels won’t be anything like the Lightning prototype from 3 years ago. So this is the next problem with Ford. And it’s yet another problem that neither Mark Fields nor Bill Ford Himself has an answer for.