'99 Cobra: The "Fix"

Ford has announced that a production problem has prohibited the '99 Cobra from making the full advertised (as designed) HP and torque. The recall program announced by Ford has become popularly known as "the fix". It is also popularly misunderstood by certain uninformed quarters.

The recall was installed in "beta" form to about 100 cars in the late fall of 1999. This early program was a milestone designed to test the manufacturing and distribution programs created for the program by SVT. Once tested (and verified), the recall program is set to begin in late November and early December 1999. It is anticipated that, given customer's schedules and the weather in the northern areas of the country, it may take until the spring of 2000 to update all the cars.

The recall program brings the cars up to 2000-spec level (all 2000s will have the same exact parts). What's being updated?

Also, in an unrelated move, SVT has decided to replace the accessory drive belt tensioner. This is an improved version, and it comes with a new belt.

As I understand it, a supply of kits will be built before the recall formally begins. This is necessary in order to ensure a smooth supply through the distribution channel as owners are contacted and scheduled. This makes it fair to everyone since owners won't have to wait for supply to catch up to the scheduled recall dates of their cars. Another milestone leading up to the start date is distribution of the new PCM program update to the dealers via their regularly scheduled Service Bay system updates.

SVT dealers were notified of this action via a broadcast on November 15th. Your SVT dealer can now tell you about the program details and the anticipated start date. SVT will notify and schedule owners individually after that point in time.

My Results

I received my recall in early November (note that my recall isn't part of the early program, it was from the pre-positioned recall supply in the warehouse). Ford ships the fixes on a large pallet directly to the dealership. I took a look at the parts when I dropped off my car, and again when I picked it up. A large box contains the lower intake and associated parts. The intake itself has obviously Extrude-Honed judging from the intake ports. The new cat-back exhaust system is externally indistinguishable.

The recall takes about 3 hours to install. It really isn't very difficult, and assuming the dealer has an updated SBDS or SBTS system, the flash takes only a few minutes. There is no break-in or relearning period.

I had eagerly anticipated the recall over the past couple of weeks. I immediately noticed the first change when I started the car: the exhaust note is much stronger. The return trip from the dealer on the highway showed a power improvement across the range. There is no doubt in my mind that the car now has it's advertised horsepower. I've also noticed that it doesn't have the same extreme sensitivity to octane quality, it doesn't detonate on certain brands of Premium fuel anymore - but it does still have an aggressive spark advance curve.

Overall, and in every detail, it's like a new car. I'm very pleased with the work that Ford and my dealer have performed. I'm also very pleased with the thorough and conscientious program that SVT has put together. The results speak well to their accountability and leadership.

Pictures - OLD manifold

This is the underside of the lower intake manifold. I removed a casting plug in order to see inside.

This is a very complex casting, I'm not surprised that production problems occurred.

The dark area inside the manifold is a runner coming down to take high-speed air off the bottom of the plenum chamber. The casting of this critical area is very rough, impacting smooth airflow.

Why is the manifold dark inside? It's oil and soot from the EGR system. This is normal.

Close-up of the casting. This is a critical area, it should be perfectly smooth.
Lower intake manifold from the back.

What does this engine look like overall?

Lower intake manifold from the top. Air enters from the throttle body and travels down into the plenum chamber underneath via the open passages to the right and left. This area is not Extrude-Honed in the new manifold.