Svt Comes To Atlanta To Celebrate A Decade Of Delivering Performance
For Ford Motor Company's Special Vehicle Team (SVT), 2003 is an important year. In addition to being the company's centennial year, it marks SVT's 10th anniversary – ten years of producing high performance vehicles. Today, this special milestone celebration moved to Atlanta.
Tom Scarpello, SVT marketing and sales manager, joined members of the South East Automotive Media Organization and other area journalists on a day-long ride and drive program through the mountains of North Georgia. The drive featured the complete SVT lineup.
"Ever since SVT began producing high performance Ford vehicles a decade ago, Georgia has been a very important market for us," said Scarpello. "This area is a hotbed of automotive enthusiasm. And, as a graduate of the University of Georgia, it is great for me to come back home."
SVT has come a long way in ten years as an organization, from a small "skunkworks" operation to a full-fledged business and integral part of the Ford Performance Group. Created to "Polish the Ford Oval," SVT was officially launched with the debut of the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning pickup truck at the 1992 Chicago Auto Show. Since then, SVT has produced more than 100,000 performance vehicles – including coupes, convertibles, four-door sport sedans, pickup trucks and now, "pocket rockets." Over one hundred thousand loyal owners and a national car club, the SVT Owner’s Association (SVTOA), show that SVT is the dominant force in the domestic performance market.
But, perhaps the greatest proof of Ford SVT's success can be found by looking at the competition. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and new performance vehicle divisions have sprung up in the hopes of achieving what SVT has already done. However, ten years of experience, a highly trained dealer network and a legacy of 100,000 vehicles gives Ford SVT a definitive advantage over these new ventures. Plus, SVT engineers are hard at work on the next generation of SVT products.
As John Coletti, director of SVT Programs, likes to say, "Ten years and we’re just picking up speed."
To commemorate this significant year, Ford SVT will offer 2,003 units of the SVT Mustang Cobra "10th Anniversary Package." Other product highlights for 2003 include the new 5-door SVT Focus, a "European Appearance Package" option for the 3-door SVT Focus and continuous refinement in several areas of the SVT F-150 Lightning.
Ford SVT History
The Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT) was conceived in 1991, when Ford senior management recognized the corporate advantages of investigating niche vehicle market opportunities. The idea was to assemble passionate driving enthusiasts within Ford and some of its key suppliers into a small, cross-functional group of engineers, product planners and marketing professionals with a common mission: Create vehicles to satisfy the desires of knowledgeable, high-performance auto enthusiasts.
SVT was charged to develop and market factory, high-performance "halo" vehicles that would add luster to the company's lineup – or "Polish the Ford Oval." To that end, the team focused on creating limited-production cars and trucks with balanced performance attributes – vehicles that stop as well as they accelerate, ride as well as they handle and, above all, are fun to drive. All vehicles that wear the SVT badge are designed and developed with four hallmarks in mind: Performance, Substance, Exclusivity and Value.
The official launch of SVT came during the 1992 Chicago Auto Show with the unveiling of the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning. Both went on sale in February of 1993. Since that time, more than 100,000 SVT vehicles have been produced, including several versions of the Cobra (both coupe and convertible) and Lightning pickup, the SVT Contour sports sedan and both three- and five-door versions of the SVT Focus. SVT also produced special Cobra 'R' models in 1993, 1995 and 2000.
For 2003, as Ford Motor Company celebrates its centennial, the Special Vehicle Team has reached another milestone that solidifies its position as the undisputed leader in factory-built performance vehicles. SVT not only marks its 10th anniversary this year, but also finds itself bolstered in the marketplace, thanks to a new operational alliance as part of the recently formed Ford Performance Group.
The new group takes a decade of SVT performance car sales successes and combines them with the strengths of the Ford Racing Technology group and the company’s Vehicle Personalization organization to create the industry’s largest and most comprehensive performance vehicles, parts and accessories marketing operation.
“We created this group to maximize the most passionate and exciting parts of our business,” explained Jim O’Connor, Ford group vice president for North America Marketing, Sales and Service. O’Connor sees the group’s formation as a key element in Ford’s strategy to re-energize the car market while solidifying and expanding the truck segment through the growth of performance-oriented products and accessories.
Mike Zevalkink, formerly executive director of Ford North American Car Product Development, is charged with aligning the business strategies within the Ford Performance Group to deliver even more special enthusiast-oriented vehicles, plus new parts and personalization products – all supported by Ford victories in racing.
"From the excellent driving dynamics built into every Ford Focus, to the sheer strength of the 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra and F-150 Lightning and the excitement brewing with the production of the Ford GT, it’s clear that performance and passion is core to Ford’s business," Zevalkink said. "The difference between Ford and the competition is that Ford has more than 100,000 SVT vehicles already on the street. What’s more, we sell at least as many feature vehicles each year, plus a line of factory-backed performance accessories – and now plan to widen our lead in performance products and services."
To the people at SVT, inclusion in the Ford Performance Group means leveraging the company’s best strengths in racing and product development to even better deliver on the team’s core values of Performance, Substance, Exclusivity and Value. Performance is defined not just by increased power, but also by improved road dynamics and a balance among engine, suspension and braking systems. Substance means character that is built in, not just added on. And the exclusivity comes from low-volume, limited-production vehicles available only from SVT-trained and certified Ford dealers in North America. SVT dealers have specially trained technicians and staff to satisfy the most serious driving enthusiasts – before, during and after the sale.
Finally, SVT is dedicated to delivering all of this at a tremendous value – value that goes well beyond the vehicle’s sticker price. For example, SVT owners get SVT Premium Service (which includes a free loaner car when in for service at an SVT dealership, plus a free wash and vacuum); membership in the SVT Owners Association (SVTOA); a factory Certificate of Authenticity; plus special SVT Merchandise and much more.
"We're a true team with a single-minded focus," said Scarpello. "There are no conflicting priorities and no capitulating to lowest-common-denominator thinking. This is an organization staffed by enthusiasts from both Ford and some of our key suppliers, creating cars and trucks for enthusiasts."
"You haven't seen half of what we can do," added Coletti. "SVT has proven to be a differentiator for Ford Motor Company and support from upper management couldn't be stronger. Even with other companies trying to follow suit, we believe SVT will remain on the forefront of niche vehicle engineering and development."