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http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Columns/articleId=109512

Quietly, Ford Motor Co. has been dismantling SVT — the Special Vehicle Team — and sources inside the company suggest that as of April 1, SVT as we've known it since 1992 will cease to exist..

Yes, the 2007 Mustang in Shelby Cobra trim is still coming, and yes, it was developed by SVT. And yes, it'll have SVT badges, because it's too late to take them off. But it is the last genuine SVT product.

By "genuine," I mean it was developed by SVT, from concept to execution, then sold through the network of 600 dedicated Ford SVT dealers, who paid to be part of SVT, sent employees to SVT training and stocked SVT parts. Any future Ford products that carry an SVT badge, and it is unlikely any will, will be more of a "suspension tuned by SVT"-type vehicle. And the 7,500 Shelby Cobra Mustangs sold for 2007 — more, if they can get enough transmissions — will be offered to all 3,900 Ford dealers, not just SVT participants..

So what went wrong?

It appears that the balls-out effort to build the Ford GT by the company's 100th anniversary took its toll on the SVT staff, slowing development of more mainstream future products, such as the next-generation Lightning, an updated SVT Focus and an SVT version of the Fusion. The Ford executives who oversaw SVT, group vice presidents Steve Lyons and Phil Martens, didn't give SVT the resources it needed to rebuild.

Martens is gone; he's running Plastech, a company that supplies spoilers and scuff plates and other bits and pieces to the manufacturers. And Lyons retired March 1 to move to Arizona and run a Ford dealership. Reportedly Lyon's replacement, Cisco Codina, likes SVT, but it's too late.

Why? Because SVT's top executives are gone, too. John Coletti, the bulldog engineer who was the heart and soul of SVT, retired at the end of 2004. Tom Scarpello, Coletti's counterpart on the marketing side, moved to Jaguar. Chris Theodore, a Ford vice president who spearheaded the Ford GT, is gone. This leaves the talented, personable Hau Thai-Tang to run SVT. Essentially, he's a captain without a ship.

It's painful to see what has happened to SVT, especially when you look at the success of Chrysler's SRT program, which in many ways mirrors what SVT was. In the grand scheme of Ford's problems, botching SVT is a small one. But to enthusiasts, it speaks volumes.

Nearly 10 years ago I was in Las Vegas, the first to drive the upcoming SVT Contour. John Coletti and I, en route to some all-you-can-eat buffet at a casino, were talking about GM's current strategy of hiring brand managers for each model. It was not a successful program, but I was playing devil's advocate.

"Maybe it's a good thing," I told Coletti, "to have someone whose job it is to be excited about the Chevrolet Cavalier."

Coletti thought for a moment. "But wouldn't it be better to just build cars that you didn't have to pay someone to be excited about?"

Yes, John, it would. And you and your team always did.
R.I.P SVT
 

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Midi_Amp said:
For all its worth, I have only the biggest respect for the SVT cars, it brings excitement to a whole new level. The Focus SVT certainly needs more cojone, but the lightning and the cobra speaks for themselves.

For a factory car, I thought the Focus was pretty good. And the other SVT cars were all pretty decent. Its a shame, and I hope SRT doesnt go the same way.
 

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hobie237 said:
For a factory car, I thought the Focus was pretty good
It was very good if I might add... Well, at least the 4 door is good enough here (Ford just recently made available the 4 door hatch in my country). At the prime of its life, the Focus SVT even made the Civic Si hatch a run for its price.
 

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need to import some faster ford from europe and australia.
 
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