As the first of a series of three "R-models" from Ford's Special Vehicle Team, the '93 Cobra R was built to be driven. Hard. On race tracks against Camaros and Firebirds. So how did Darin Putman's Cobra R, number 69 of 107 built, manage to roll only 60.5 miles over the past 20 years?
"The first owner bought it as a collector car," Darin explains. "It's been through several other owners and all of them treated it as a collector car."
Like Boss 429s, the '93 Cobra Rs possess all the desirable traits for collectors—low production, high-performance, special equipment, final assembly at an outside facility, and racing heritage. Add low-mileage to the equation and you've got the perfect storm for the perfect collector car.
Built on the '93 Cobra with its 235-horsepower 5.0-liter, the "Competition Package" Cobra R added the exclamation point at the end of the Fox-body Mustang era. When Ford Motorsport inquired about a lightweight racing version of the '93 Cobra, Special Vehicle Engineering supervisor Steve Anderson assembled a group to determine what needed to be done to the Cobra to make it a worthy road-race competitor. Cost considerations for such a limited-edition vehicle prevented engine modifications, so the group focused on the suspension, brakes, and cooling system.
Like Shelby American's R-models from '65, it's the added racing equipment and the deleted street parts that make the Cobra R so special to both collectors and racers. Built on the Dearborn Assembly Line with final assembly at MascoTech, the 1993 Cobra Rs receive chassis stiffening, suspension upgrades, and larger disc brakes all the way around, including the first Fox-body use of 5-lug rotors and wheels since the '84-'86 SVO. For engine cooling under race conditions, a larger radiator, secured by brackets fabricated from two standard brackets, came with a de-gas tank to remove air from the cooling system to prevent hot spots from forming air pockets. Engine oil and power steering fluid coolers were installed behind the front fascia.
So how did Darin Putman's Cobra R, number 69 of 107 built, manage to roll only 60.5 miles over the past 20 years?
For weight savings, Cobra R builds deleted the fog lights, radio, air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, sound deadener, and undercoating. The rear seat was also left out, replaced by a fiberboard panel and carpet. Because the wheel for the Mustang's standard "donut" space-saver spare tire would not clear the larger brakes, the Cobra Rs came with a full-size wheel and tire, which barely fit in the rear compartment.
All 107 '93 Cobra Rs were painted Vibrant Red. They can be visually identified by their black dual three-spoke 17-inch wheels (a preview of the 1994 Mustang GT's optional wheels), lack of fog lights, and radio delete antenna cover on the passenger side front fender.
According to Thomas Schreiner and Peter Sessler's SVT Mustang Cobra Recognition Guide, Ford started accepting orders for the Cobra R at 8:30 am on April 15, 1993. By noon, they were sold out, even with orders restricted to "sanctioned competition use only." It's estimated that up to two-thirds of the 1993 Cobra Rs ended up in collections, not on race tracks as originally intended.
Which brings us back to our subject car. Putnam acquired the '93 Cobra R to add to his Lubbock, Texas, Mustang collection, a fairly diverse selection of 10 cars from nearly every generation (except Mustang II). Most of the late-models have low-mileage, including a Texas Highway Patrol SSP Fox-body and a '95 Cobra R, but the '93 Cobra R is the lowest. Putnam bought it with 58.8 miles, so he's driven the car less than a mile, much of it while positioning and repositioning for Jerry Heasley's photo shoot.
Putnam says he plans to add a few more miles to the Cobra R, as in very few. "I may put 100-200 miles on it," he says. "I won't be driving it to work every day."
'93 Cobra R Equipment
235hp 5.0-liter (same as street Cobra)
Recalibrated clutch fan
Power steering fluid cooler
Two-row aluminum radiator with de-gas tank
Fog light delete
Carpeted rear compartment
Manual windows and side mirrors
Radio and air-conditioning delete
Sound deadener and undercoat delete
Progressive rate springs (1-inch lower)
Koni adjustable struts/shocks
31mm front sway bar
21mm rear sway bar (same as street Cobra)
Strut tower brace
Convertible rocker panel stiffeners
13-inch front brake rotors with 5-lug pattern
PBR twin-piston front brake calipers
Single-piston rear brake calipers (from Lincoln Mark VII)
10.5-inch rear brake rotors with 5-lug pattern
17x8-inch aluminum wheels, black
P245/45ZR17 Goodyear high-performance tires
Full-size spare tire