First Drive: Ford SVT Mustang Terminator (Video)

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Even after all these years, the ‘Terminator’ is still king of the hill when it comes to fast Mustangs.

Despite it being 15 years post introduction, the Ford SVT Mustang Cobra, aka “Terminator,” is still used as a performance benchmark by many enthusiasts. Even though it was around for just two years, the 390-horsepower, Eaton-supercharged 2003 & 2004 Cobras still captivate fans of performance cars.

They’re especially responsive to modifications and incredibly resilient, meaning that it’s relatively easy to tune them for big power, meaning they can still stand toe-to-toe with today’s hottest factory muscle cars.

In the case of the auto enthusiast behind the YouTube channel Mustang Lifestyle, that meant a Whipple 2.3-liter supercharger, some exhaust upgrades, and a tune. That’s impressive enough to go Hellcat hunting.

Recently, he handed the keys over to a fellow YouTuber behind the channel That Guy Marin. Marin had never driven a Mustang Terminator before, and this worked-over example is a great gateway drug if you ask us. While we love the sound of the Coyote-powered Mustangs and the amazing sound of the GT350, there’s nothing quite like the sound of an uncorked DOHC Mod motor.

Marin’s take on the ‘Terminator’

“It’s loud, but it’s tasteful loud,” exclaims Marin, and we certainly agree.

Marin also slides behind the wheel of Mustang Lifestyle’s S550, which was modified for his significant other, Ashley. When asked which he prefers, Marin has a hard time picking a favorite. We can easily understand why. Both are incredibly fast, well-tuned examples of the breed.The high-revving 32-valve, 4.6 sounds both muscular and exotic, and the supercharger whine just adds to the beautiful symphony.

While the S550 is a bit smoother and easier to drive—or at least is would be on more streetable rubber—there’s just something about a Terminator that does it for us. That’s hardly a hot take, as the continued popularity of the 2003 and 2004 SVT Cobra Mustangs is evidence of just how right Ford’s Special Vehicle Team got it over a decade ago.

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Longtime motorcyclist and automotive journalist Cam Vanderhorst is a regular contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum and MB World, among others.

When he's not busy working on his Harley-Davidson bike, the vastly experienced writer has covered an array of features, reviews, how-tos, op-eds and news stories for Internet Brands' Auto Group and is also a co-founder and co-host of the popular podcast Cammed & Tubbed.

Check him out on Instagram at: Camvanderhorst.

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