USA Today Article on Mystic Cobra Release

Mystic paint puts Ford Cobra in a different light

By James R. Healey


USA TodayCHICAGO – Ford Motor has a hot paint that goes on black and also looks green, purple or gold, depending on the light.

Ford calls the color Mystic and will put it on 2,000 1996 Mustang Cobra Coupes – no convertibles – then quit using the color, to make Mystic Cobras keepsakes. A Mystic Cobra is on display at the auto show here at McCormick Place through Sunday.

Mystic, a stiff $815 option, goes into production this week. Ford will quit the color in April and has no plans to use it again, says Tim Boyd, marketing chief of Ford’s Special Vehicle Team. SVT develops image-enhancing niche models.

Ford makes a small profit – Boyd won’t say how small – on the Mystic option because it buys the expensive paint in bulk from BASF. But a body-repair shop would have to pay about $1,000 a gallon for Mystic – roughly 10 times the cost of conventional car paint. It takes about 1½ gallons to paint a car, Ford says.

Chameleon colors aren’t new, but Mystic is most dramatic. Other paints change within a narrow band of hue: yellow-white-beige, for instance.

Ford says it’s easy – albeit costly – to repaint damaged Mystic Mustangs. The body shop doesn’t need any fancy techniques or layers of different colors.

Cobras are limited-production, hot-rod versions of Mustangs developed by SVT, which also plans to sell a hot-rod, SVT Contour compact sedan in April 1997.

Cobra coupes start at $25,310. Convertibles start at $28,080. Only 7,500 Cobra coupes and 2,500 convertibles will be produced during the 1996 model year.

SVT models are sold by just 702 of Ford’s 4,400 U.S. dealers. To be eligible, Ford dealers must take special training, have a good record of customer satisfaction and pay Ford a fee.

Cobras feature a 305-horsepower version of Ford’s 4.6-liter V-8 – the automaker’s most powerful V-8. The engines are partly hand-assembled by two-person teams at Ford’s Romeo, Mich., plant. Key upgrade: high-performance cylinder heads that help the engine breathe better and burn fuel more explosively.