With a flick of the key, the outspread modular motor inhales deeply through an oval throttle body into a cavernous intake. The exhaust percolates just behind the driver’s ears. Pulling out onto the open road, every moment is visceral — from feeling every nuance of the road to hearing every pebble ting off the sheetmetal.
Once there is enough open pavement beyond the front splitter, you can give in to the temptation of dropping the hammer. The big modular motor snarls in a way that none had ever before while skyrocketing to a realm where factory predecessors feared to tread — 7,000 rpm. If you dare, keep your foot in it while banging through the gears, the speedo will easily see the beginning of triple digits and keep climbing.
If you didn’t already know, this special machine is one of just 300 built. It is none other than the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R, and if you’ve never driven one, it is one of the great Mustang driving experiences for those who love a driver’s car.
Someone who has an appreciation for Fords like this special machine is Larry Brewer of Dripping Springs, Texas. He happens to own the 41st example of this rare breed of performance stallion. With more than seven decades of life experience under his belt, the R-model is just one of the Mustangs in his collection.
“I was born in 1950, and I remember listening to Fred Lorenzen and Holman-Moody racing on AM radio with my dad,” Brewer recalls. “I am from the Carolinas, so racing was just born in my blood. And, I was just always going to be a Ford guy.”
From the moment the DMV granted him a driver’s license, it was no surprise that Mustangs became an integral part of his life.
“My first car was a ’65 with a straight six and a three-speed. If you cut me, I bleed blue, not red. I’ve always been a Ford person,” Brewer says. “Since I was a little kid and the ’69 Boss 302 came out, I wanted one. I just couldn’t afford one. Then the ’70 came out, and I liked the car a whole lot better. I just had to have one.”
Eventually, he secured the title of his dream machine, and he still owns it to this day.
“I got a ’70 Boss 302. It’s on the rotisserie right now,” Brewer says with an exuberant grin. “I’m planning to give it to my son. I’m 72 years old and I’ve had it since it was new.”
While many enthusiasts stick with a certain era of cars, Brewer added several classics to his stable. But eventually, he began adding high-performance machines from the SN-95 and New Edge eras. He owns several Cobras, including a ’95 Cobra convertible, a 1996 Cobra, painted in the rare Mystic hue, as well as a ’97 Mustang road racer that was spared from the crusher to compete in SCCA competition.
“The ’95 is a hardtop convertible,” he says of the one-of-499-built ride. “It was the first one that was sold to the public and is the third one built.”
As you can tell, he has a thing for rare machines, but he also loves performance. Growing up with a love of racing led him to pursue plenty of track time at open-track events now in his 50’s. He picked up a purpose-built road racer for track days, and eventually set out to upgrade it with a bulletproof engine to survive the rigors of the road course.
One day, however, he learned about the opportunity to purchase another rare corner carver — the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R you see here. Without hesitation, he lept at the opportunity to buy the car, and his wife even said, “Go get it.” She knew it was a special car, so Brewer headed for Colorado to pick up the R-model and bring it home.
It had been slightly modified, including the addition of a four-point roll bar for track duty. However, Brewer brought it back home and returned it to stock form except for retaining the roll bar.
If you aren’t that familiar with these cars, “stock” is a relative term, as Ford’s Special Vehicle Team combined its engineering acumen with a few choice additions from the aftermarket to create a race-ready Mustang that was capable of running to an aero-limited top-speed of 170 mph and required a competition license to order.
To make this happen, SVT installed a hot-rodded 5.4-liter engine based on a cast-iron block topped by high-flow aluminum four-valve cylinder heads drawing breath through the aforementioned intake and throttle body. Percolating to the marching orders of aggressive camshafts and barking out through a side-exit exhaust made up of Bassani and Borla bits, it generates a square output of 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque.
Decked out in aggressive aero upgrades, including a removable front splitter and a towering rear wing, this R-model might fool the uninitiated into believing it was all body-kit bravado. But its performance credentials extended beyond the body and powertrain. It features Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs, and an independent rear suspension to put the power down.
In all, the ’00 R-model is surprisingly stable at the triple-digit speeds it was designed to achieve. Even though Brewer has no plans to put this rare ride on the road course, he couldn’t help but give it a little wide-open test drive, and the car lived up to its advertised credentials.
“It will easily do 150 mph,” he enthused. “I probably ran it up to about 155 (mph) and it’s hard to get out of it because it just wants to keep pulling.”
These days, however, this rare ride sees more action at Cars & Coffee gatherings or events like LMR’s annual car show, where we spotted it among several other R-models. While it won’t need that roll bar for this duty, it will remain safe as a part of Brewer’s collection.
“That car isn’t going anywhere,” Brewer declares.
And, who could blame him? Once you drive a 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R, you’ll never want to give the keys back — trust us.