Before there was the Mustang Shelby GT 500, there was the Mustang SVT Cobra, produced from 1994 to 2004. Three times during that 10-year period, the gearheads at SVT produced a track-rat Cobra R. The last, in 2000, was an ultra-hardcore beast with a 5.4-liter modular V8 cranking out a likely underrated 385 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque — this was a year before the Chevy Corvette Z06 showed up with 385 hp and 380 lb-ft. John Coletti, Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering manager at the time, said of this model, "Everything we've done on this car is a notch or several notches above anything we've done before," and, "This 2000 Cobra R pushes the performance envelope far beyond the capabilities of any previous Mustang."
One of this Cobra SVT R's magic tricks was its intake manifold, a top hat standing high enough to require an even bigger power bulge in the hood. A member of the SVT Performance forum came across a prototype manifold, one Ford engineers built in order to test the production unit. Somehow, the component ended up in a box in someone's basement, and that certain someone forgot about it. Just like the grandma who never mentions she has a Lamborghini Countach and a Ferrari 308 in her garage, we're still not sure how such things happen, but happen they do.
Anyway, a note on the side of the intake reads "Extrude honed," a process that squeezes an abrasive material through a channel to leave a smooth surface. Ford would have tried this process out in order to prevent a repeat of what happened on the 1999 Mustang SVT Cobra, when leftover aluminum flash in the headers robbed the engine of up to 54 horsepower. The prototype also shows custom work done on the intake to create a larger plenum with improved airflow.
The 2000 Mustang Cobra SVT R was the fastest Mustang ever at the time, and this intake helped make that possible. Ford only made 300 examples of the coupe, priced them at about $55,000 (nearly $88,000 in today's dollars), and sold them all immediately. Among a generation of unloved Mustangs with New Edge styling, the 2000 Cobra SVT R has crossed the six-figure mark at auctions more than once this year. The manifold might not be enough for a museum exhibit, but it deserves a home more impressive than a box in a basement. Head over to the SVT Performance forum to check out more photos.