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Levi
02-16-2005, 02:31 PM
http://autoweek.com/images/news/101811

Ford's new hands have big plans for in-house tuner brand
Autoweeks BOB GRITZINGER
Posted Date: 2/14/05
Maybe all the fretting, all the online chatter, all the enthusiast gnashing of teeth about the future of Ford’s Special Vehicle Team is unwarranted. Maybe we are just seeing a lull in production at that granddaddy of domestic in-house performance tuners.

“I hope so, or else I’m out of a job,” says Ford engineer Hau Thai-Tang, the newly named director of SVT, replacing SVT icon John Coletti who retired at the end of 2004.

Something tells us Thai-Tang, the Vietnamese native who recently completed his self-described dream job—as chief engineer on the 2005 Mustang development team—won’t hurt for work anytime soon. But whether that work focuses on future SVT vehicles, and what form those products might take, remains to be seen.

Rest assured, though, Thai-Tang and his boss, Ford product creation vice president Phil Martens (himself a relative newbie, having just taken control of the product leadership position at Ford after the Dec. 1 retirement of engineering whiz Chris Theodore), are saying the right things.

Martens will admit he was getting upward of 15 letters a day from alarmed SVT faithful after Coletti’s retirement announcement. But his answers to them:

“SVT is actually bigger, staff-wise, than ever before.”
“We see SVT growing to about five products.”
“SVT is, and will remain, a Ford-branded product.”
“The core of every SVT program is its powertrain; second is chassis dynamics.”
“The next-generation Cobra will be the best one ever.”
Martens, who approved the next SVT Cobra a day before we interviewed him in January, pointed to the Mustang as an example of a product engineer*ed from the outset with an SVT version in mind.

SVT products need to be created as part of a model plan, instead of being develop*ed after the main product line has left the drawing board, he says. That way it will prevent embarrassing program delays (see SVT Lightning) or cancellations, and allow Ford to use SVT as a launching pad for new performance technologies, says Martens.

That’s fine when it comes to finances and product planning, but doesn’t a large portion of SVT’s success lie in its indepen*- dence from the mother ship? Or are they starting to learn lessons about integration from upstarts at Chrysler Street and Racing Technology and GM Performance Division?

Martens says SVT will remain a stand-alone operation, at least physically, but the team will now enjoy a direct line of communication to the product development office. “We really need to bring SVT back to its roots, into the mainstream of product development, if we’re going to take SVT to the next level. SVT needs to be an integral part of product development.”

So what can fans expect? Martens says SVT will maintain its core of high-performance V8-powered rear-wheel-drive vehicles. It will expand into inline four-cylinder cars as well. And it will break ground venturing into all-wheel-drive performance models. Turbo- and superchargers also figure prominently. And SVT will draw heavily on lessons learned developing the Ford GT, from its racing experience, and with engineers who bring cross-systems expertise.

Thai-Tang says under his stewardship he aims to make sure SVT core values of performance, exclusivity, substance and value remain intact. “It’s easy to build a strong-performing $100,000 car,” he says. “It’s a lot harder to do a strong-performing $20,000 car. You have to be a lot more creative.”

Martens admits even when you put all the pieces in place, you still must have “the moxie to develop the products—you have to have people with cars at the core of their essence.”

One of those guys, SVT papa Coletti, wishes his successors the best: “We’ve laid down a lot of rubber, and I hope the company will continue to do that.”

Lookin’ Live

When Ford rolls out the SVT Cobra version of its all-new Mustang at the New York auto show in March, take a peek underneath. If our sources are right, your prying eyes will spy a live rear axle—not an independent rear suspension, the setup that would be in keeping with the suspension on the outgoing model, and is therefore anticipated by the SVT Cobra faithful.

Ford execs are officially mum, including product chief Phil Martens, who said as recently as the Detroit auto show that no decision had been made on the Cobra’s suspension. Hau Thai-Tang, chief engineer on the 2005 Mustang and now SVT chief, did hint we can expect the next Cobra to surpass 400 hp (we hear 450 hp) and hit a price of about $40,000. The SVT Cobra goes on sale in 2006 as an ’07 model.

Firme
02-16-2005, 02:39 PM
Thanks for posting that Stan :thumbsup:

the no IRS part kinda bothers me :edmond:

I wish the New York auto show would hurry up and get here :edmond: that way the official word will be out

nckissfan
02-16-2005, 02:45 PM
that report sounds great. I, too, am waiting on the New York Autoshow

97CasperCobra
02-16-2005, 03:30 PM
Thanks for posting that Stan :thumbsup:

the no IRS part kinda bothers me :edmond:


Thanks Stan...always one with the news first. :thumbsup:

Edmond...you're just upset b/c you KNOW the live-axle is better.... ;) :p

Codes
02-16-2005, 03:54 PM
No IRS has me too, but we already have our Cobra. What I am interested in is the 4 other vehicles.

I am thinking Turbo AWD SVT Focus
Something to replace the SVT Contour
Probably bring the L back

The last one is a tossup, I am thinking possibly a Freestyle SVT?
Maybe sometype of SVT SUV.

ITS KILLING ME.

Levi
02-17-2005, 10:44 AM
All-wheel-drive performance models, Turbo- and superchargers, OH MY.

So what can fans expect? Martens says SVT will maintain its core of high-performance V8-powered rear-wheel-drive vehicles. It will expand into inline four-cylinder cars as well. And it will break ground venturing into all-wheel-drive performance models. Turbo- and superchargers also figure prominently. And SVT will draw heavily on lessons learned developing the Ford GT, from its racing experience, and with engineers who bring cross-systems expertise.

The most bang for the buck.

Thai-Tang says under his stewardship he aims to make sure SVT core values of performance, exclusivity, substance and value remain intact. “It’s easy to build a strong-performing $100,000 car,” he says. “It’s a lot harder to do a strong-performing $20,000 car. You have to be a lot more creative.”

Ford does have some balls.

Martens admits even when you put all the pieces in place, you still must have “the moxie to develop the products—you have to have people with cars at the core of their essence.”

No turning back now!

One of those guys, SVT papa Coletti, wishes his successors the best: “We’ve laid down a lot of rubber, and I hope the company will continue to do that.”

The cost of performace is what its all about.

When Ford rolls out the SVT Cobra version of its all-new Mustang at the New York auto show in March, take a peek underneath. If our sources are right, your prying eyes will spy a live rear axle—not an independent rear suspension, the setup that would be in keeping with the suspension on the outgoing model, and is therefore anticipated by the SVT Cobra faithful.

Ford execs are officially mum, including product chief Phil Martens, who said as recently as the Detroit auto show that no decision had been made on the Cobra’s suspension. Hau Thai-Tang, chief engineer on the 2005 Mustang and now SVT chief, did hint we can expect the next Cobra to surpass 400 hp (we hear 450 hp) and hit a price of about $40,000. The SVT Cobra goes on sale in 2006 as an ’07 model.