There has been some discussion over the years about 1996 Mystic Cobra prototypes. The long standing idea was car number 1 was the prototype but recently I found some info that throws this theory off. Now what we have learned from Ford is that to cut down on paint loss all mystics were supposedly painted back to back. After pulling build date records on every Mystic. Cars 1,2,3,4 were all built on 2-2-96. With production continuing for the rest of the cars 5-2000 on 2-13-96. No where else in production is there a gap of days like that. I believe 1-4 were the official press cars for the launch of the 1996 Mystic Cobras. Lets just call them the first true production run cars, probably built days ahead to get final final stamp of approval from Ford brass before they turned on full production. Reason for this was expensive paint and these cars would have been most likely the first ones sprayed by machines not by hand as prototypes usually are. They were run early so any kinks or flaws on these would have to be addressed right away before full production began. I believe these cars then hit the press circuit doing all the shows and events during the 1996 sales season. ( if you have any photos of these cars on display back then let me know)
As for the actual prototype or types. The January 1996 Mustang Monthly contains a multipage article on the 1996 Mystic. Now usually magazines are published a month early the January issue most likely hit news stands or was mailed out early to mid December 1995. So the photos would have to have been taken prior to December 1995. Now with #1 having a build date of 2-2-96 it couldn’t have been the test car used in the photo shoot. Even in the magazine the car looks more purplish black with more subtle changes then any other known mystic. Thus I believe this car is the first prototype mystic.
The question then became what actually happened to this prototype, I think I know. A few years ago I stumble upon Washtenaw Community College Automotive Program Their school car is a SN95 Cobra that looks almost Mystic. I reach out to the school and ask about it. An instructor by the name of Michael Duff gets back to me and says the school has used it as a teaching tool / promo and races it at local track ( See Video Here) The car was a 1996 Cobra prototype that was donated to the school. The car has no vin or anything to identify it to being a production car. The car was donated by Ford via Brian Wolfe who was the Director of Ford Motor Sports (NASCAR, NHRA, NMCA/NMRA, Rally, Pikes Peak and Drifting) and the design, development and sales of Ford Performance Parts. To confirm this story I then reached out to Brian Wolfe who left Ford and has gone to become the name to know if your looking to build a 7.3L Godzilla Motor with Willis Performance . Brian got back to me and confirmed that this car was indeed a prototype left over from a previous project.
Here is some photos of WCC’s “Prototype Mystic” one you compare the photos and the video of it with the ones from the article above you can see the darker more subtle color changes that both share. While I have never heard how many prototype hardtops were produced I believe this car is one of them if not the only one.
The GT Convertible Prototypes now I believe these cars may have been the precursor to the 1995 Saleen “Horse of a Different Color”
The story I have heard is but haven’t confirmed yet. 2 1995 Mustang GT Convertibles were used as a prototype for the Mystic paint by Ford to see how it would look before deciding to use it on the Cobras. It seems one went to a BASF Manager, the other to a Ford manager. The one that went to the Ford employee was destroyed after it was stolen & wrecked in a crash. The BASF manager sold his to another BASF employee in late 2002. According to SVT: Since Team Mustang held lead engineering responsibility for the 1996-1999 SVT Cobras, they would have procured GTs to prototype the paint with BASF, not SVT. The goal of PP1-to-PP4 level pre-production engineering prototypes / management cars, is to have them as close to production ready as possible. ( If anyone sees this car or its owner please get me photos or contact info last seen around Detroit Suburbs)