When you think of classic cars, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the hot rod era of the 1940s or the golden age of muscle cars in the 1960s. However, there are plenty of more modern vehicles that are already considered classics. Even though we aren't even a decade removed from the 2000s, two of the rarest and most unique Mustangs from the decade are already becoming collector's items. If you're a Ford enthusiast, there's no better time than the present to pick up one of these soon-to-be classic pony cars.
The Mustang Cobra Terminator
The fourth-generation Mustang was produced from 1994 to 2004, and numerous special-edition Cobra versions were produced during that time frame. However, the 2003 and 2004 Mustang Cobras are truly something special. Powered by a supercharged V8 engine nicknamed "Terminator" by Ford's SVT (special vehicle team), you know this is a pony car that means business.
Mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission, the Cobra's 4.6-liter V8 churns out 390 horsepower and 390 lbs.-ft. of torque. Dumping the clutch and launching flat out allows the Cobra to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in only 4.9 seconds. If you keep on the throttle, the Cobra can tackle the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds with a trap speed of 111 mph. Those figures are impressive even for today's sports cars, not to mention for a car produced in the mid-2000s.
Ford's SVT division didn't merely soup up the Cobra's engine and call it a day. They also swapped out the base Mustang's solid rear axle for a slick independent rear suspension setup that greatly improved cornering performance. Virtually every other suspension and brake component was upgraded as well to make the Cobra a truly competitive road course vehicle rather than a simple dragster.
Finally, the exterior was adorned with unique bumpers, ground effects, and wheels to make the Cobra look as aggressive as it performed. All of that customization adds up to make the Cobra a truly special car that is destined to become as collectible as any Mustang from the 1960s.
The Mustang Cobra R
If the Mustang Cobra Terminator isn't exclusive enough for you, you could always opt for the 2000 SVT Cobra R instead. Only 300 units were produced in a single model year, making the Cobra R one of the rarest Mustangs in history. Finding one on the used market today is exceedingly difficult, so your best bet may be to commission a reputable pre-owned Ford dealer to help you locate one across the nationwide network of Ford dealerships.
When it first hit the streets, the Cobra R was the fastest Mustang Ford had ever produced. It's powered by a naturally aspirated 5.4-liter V8 that puts down 385 horsepower and 385 lbs.-ft. of torque. Straight-line performance is similar to the Cobra Terminator—the Cobra R is capable of 0 to 60 mph sprints in 4.7 seconds, and the quarter mile takes only 13.2 seconds.
Like the Cobra Terminator, the Cobra R was given the full treatment for handling and braking upgrades. A tuned independent rear suspension system, custom Bilstein shocks, Brembo brakes, and a careful weight-reduction regimen all make the Cobra R feel right at home on any road course. It was arguably the first Mustang ever to roll out of the factory as a truly competitive sports car outside of the drag strip.
From the outside, the Cobra R is unmistakable. The only color available for the vehicle was Ford's distinctive Performance Red Clearcoat. Its flashy paint job combined with its aggressive domed hood and high-rise rear spoiler makes the Cobra R easily stand out from the crowd of other Mustangs. To finish off the exterior, SVT also added custom 18-inch wheels and an aggressive ground effects kit.
Which One Is the Mustang for You?
The Cobra Terminator and Cobra R are both incredible machines, but there's no denying that the Cobra R is the more collectible of the two. Since only 300 units were produced, it's bound to be revered as one of the most classic Mustangs ever. However, that exclusivity comes at a price: the Cobra R is much harder to find on the used market than the Cobra Terminator, and its resale value is also much higher.
If you care mostly about performance, the Cobra Terminator can easily hold its own against the Cobra R without breaking the bank. Either way, you can't go wrong: both models are bound to be considered classic pony cars in the coming decades. Look for dealerships that sell pre-owned Fords, like Welsh Motors, to get started in your search.