Quietly, Ford Motor Co. has been dismantling SVT
-- the Special Vehicle Team -- and sources inside the company suggest that as of April 1, SVT, as we've known it since 1992, will cease to exist.
SVT has had no dedicated products since 2004. A high-performance version of the Sport Trac, called the Adrenalin, was shown at the New York
Auto Show in March 2005. At a preview for journalists, SVT director Hau Thai-Tang said that the Adrenalin "is going to turn the performance-vehicle market upside down" when it goes on sale as a 2007 model. Then, last month, the Adrenalin was canceled as part of Ford's "Way Forward" restructuring campaign. The Ford GT supercar, which was developed largely by SVT engineers but was not called an SVT model, will end production later this year.
A new Shelby Cobra GT 500 Mustang is due later this year as a 2007 model. But it will be offered to all 3,900 Ford dealers, instead of SVT's network of roughly 600 dealers.
SVT was founded in 1991 by Robert Rewey, Ford's vice president for marketing and sales, and Neil Ressler, Ford's chief technical officer. The idea was that SVT would consist of a small group of engineers, designers and marketing professionals who would work inside Ford to build and sell high-performance versions of existing products. SVT also set up a separate dealer network, signing up Ford dealers that had an interest in selling performance products.
In 1992, the first two SVT products were launched: The 1993 F-150 Lightning pickup, and the 1993 Mustang
Cobra. In 1997, the SVT Contour was introduced, and in 1999, the second-generation Lightning went on sale. In late 2001, the '02 SVT Focus went on sale. By 2004, when production of the Lightning, Mustang Cobra and SVT Focus ended, the company had sold about 145,000 SVT products.
It's likely that Ford will continue to produce special-edition models of several vehicles, but they will not be sold through SVT channels.