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cobrabitn
11-30-2006, 11:55 PM
Iron Fist/Lead Foot
By Frank Moriarity

“Like every other Mustang fan, as soon as I heard about this supercharged car I couldn't wait for it to be built. As both a business person and a Mustang fan my reaction was the same - this is great!”

- William Clay Ford, Jr.
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company

A factory supercharged Ford Mustang had long been on the wish list of muscle car fans, but it took the passion of a single man to make it happen: O. John Coletti.

Coletti? That was one name in the Ford Motor Company phone book guaranteed to stir up differing opinions among the huge auto manufacturer’s upper management. Maverick or visionary? Loose cannon or true believer? Tyrant or leader?

One thing was certain about the mercurial Coletti: he had an unswerving faith in the value of high performance. And after almost single-handedly rescuing the Ford Mustang from discontinuation via a covert, renegade program, Coletti had ridden his notoriety into his own throne within Ford – as head of the elite Special Vehicle Team.

But in late 2000, Coletti stretched the boundaries of his own legend when he cancelled the division’s anticipated 2002 Mustang Cobra, disrupting marketing plans and enraging SVT’s network of exclusive dealers.

The tale begins with the September, 2000 SVT “Western Drive,” an opportunity for team members to evaluate prototypes nearing production on the deserted highways of the wide open spaces. On this tour of the West, interest was high in the 2002 Cobra prototype. After all, Cobra engineering had been brought fully in house under the auspices of SVT for the first time since 1995. Coletti was anxious to sample the results of his team’s labors.

When Coletti dumped the throttle, what did he find? The naturally-aspirated 2002 prototype could barely beat the 2001 model, and even the little SVT Ford Focus prototype dogged the flagship model. This crisis led to what Cobra program supervisor Tom Bochenek refers to as “the gas station performance review.” Simply put, Coletti was appalled.

“We stopped at a gas stop,” remembers Cobra team manager Primo Goffi. “Everybody’s waiting for everybody else to go through, and on the side of the gas station people are just hanging out, getting a drink of water or what have you. John’s just got that mist in his face like he’s ready to erupt – everybody’s talking and he’s ready to come unglued. He said, ‘You know, guys, I’m going to go into this store and see if they sell any Alpo. And I’m going to buy a six-pack and throw it in the back seat of this thing because it’s a dog. And I’m not going to associate myself with this thing because it is a dog.’”

By Coletti’s decree, everything changed, and the end result was the 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra, code name: Terminator. The account of how SVT raised the Mustang Cobra’s horsepower and handling to new levels while working within Ford’s traditional auto industry production and assembly facilities is a tale for the ages among fans of muscle cars from any era. And the story of Coletti’s determination to bring to the market this supercharged, 400-horsepower beast - one that can still glide nimbly through high-speed turns - symbolizes the fast-disappearing era of the muscle car men, auto executives who worshiped horsepower and revered the glory days of the 1960s.

The story of the creation of the 2003 Cobra is one of closely-guarded secrets and daunting challenges as a small, elite team struggled to create a car that will long stand as an icon of American muscle. With interviews ranging from company chairman Bill Ford to the assembly line workers of the historic-yet-antiquated Dearborn Assembly Plant, IRON FIST, LEAD FOOT takes readers behind the scenes of this breakneck program and brings them face-to-face with the towering presence of an auto industry legend, John Coletti.


You can buy the book at www.ironfistleadfoot.com

nckissfan
12-01-2006, 08:33 AM
that looks like it should be a good book.