1993 Cobra “SAAC CEO” Option (Cobra Enhancement Option)
As time goes on, it seems certain things that were cool and limited at one time in a generation end up being highly desirable and valuable later on as that generation ages. Thirty years ago the internet was nothing more than a collection of chat rooms and information traveled through mailboxes or word of mouth. So the limited production run cars had pockets of faithful followers but weren’t very widely known. The age of the internet has changed all of that where things are just a quick fingertip search away from seeing anything. Also, current limited edition runs of anything can get in front of the right audience with the same run of keystrokes to advertise online. That seems easier to market something these days but the reality is that the noise level of marketing online has raised equally. In other words, competition is stiff!!
A good point of reference for that is the SAAC Mustangs from the early 1990’s. You can see a full article on one of the rare SAAC Supercharged Models Here. Truth be told these SAAC cars were very unknown in the wider Foxbody Mustang audience. These days they are getting their due with the Gen X and early Millenial generations wanting something from their youth. AND, thanks to the SAAC cars, Ford was able to piggy back on the emissions testing approval and create possibly the most popular production Foxbody Mustang model ever, the 1993 Cobra and 1993 Cobra R.
The guys who created the SAAC Mustang created a Cobra Enhancement Option for the 1993 Cobra buyers. They went as far as creating marketing slicks for the option and sent all the information to Ford. According to Dave Eber, it seems Ford didn’t seem to think as much of this idea as they did. One would guess that Ford really didn’t want anyone messing with their flagship model, even though they used the SAAC car as the basis for the power-plant of the Cobra.
So the CEO option would take your 1993 Cobra and add the SAAC graphics, suspension, wheels, and exhaust. There was no intention of changing the body cladding or wing. As you can see, this was set to mimic the SAAC cars with the 1993 Cobra as the basis of design. Due to a lack of support from Ford, none of these were completed. According to Dave, there were a couple of people who wanted them but due to vehicle allocation challenges and emissions challenges, they didn’t get built.
As you can see in the pic above, he had to start with a 1993 Cobra. So he went and found a good solid base with some mileage so he wouldn’t feel guilty about changing a low mileage 1993 Cobra. But, the story doesn’t begin there. I’ll let Andrew explain in his own words.
So, my current Cobra was not my first attempt at making a SAAC CEO (Cobra Enhancement Option). I bought a 93 cobra brand new back in 93… Black with black cloth and sunroof. In the fall of 93 I was driving by Dave Ebers house (he lived in my neighborhood) and saw him out with his 66 GT350 in the back yard, so I stopped. I asked him if he would do the cobra enhancement option for me on my car. He said sure, when asked what color stripes he’d do he said he would do it with Silver Stripes… The cost if I remember correctly was like $6k and he would keep all of the original Cobra parts. I knew the Cobra was a special and unique and did not want to forfeit my parts. So I let the opportunity pass. So I took it upon myself to do some upgrades. I ended up doing white stripes. Looked like Tony Ternes “BLK SAAC” MKII…he also lived very close to me and the car was stunning, so I opted for the white. Went to the original vendor, ABA Trim Conversion, and had a complete interior done. Got an original interior brace (roll bar), brake cooling ducts from Scott Minch (Kar Kraft). Picked up some exterior badges from the Columbus Ohio swap meet that year. Never did the five lug conversion, Simmons wheels, tubular intake, or SAAC valve covers. I did have alternative auto put on motorsport headers, Vortech supercharger and 3.73 gears… It was a hell of a car, and gorgeous. In 1998 I sold it to one of my best friends, who still has it actually.
So, fast forward to early 2020…I decided to trade my 85 1/2 SVO sage green (1of 4) for another 93 Cobra – black on black with no sunroof, with the intention of doing a full blown SAAC CEO conversion, and it’s close to done.
This time there was no way I was going to do with this car without one of its signature looks… The three piece Australian made Simmons wheels. This is where the project started… Trying to procure the wheels.
I figured I’d go to the source. Simmons. Dropped an email. Got some sort of canned response from somebody who didn’t know anything. I insisted. Was given the email address of the guy who runs Simmons wheels, now apparently a subsidiary of Tempe Tyres in Australia. Reached out to him … and got a positive response ! He knew the car I was talking about. Now keep in mind that the style of wheel (F-90) was only made in 16”. The SAAC wheel, however, was 17”. To achieve this Simmons used the 16 inch F-90 Center and “stepped” it up to fit a 17” barrel. So I said, great!, Let’s do it. In the meantime I had to come up with exact specifications so he could build the wheel. Lucky for me I knew a couple of people who owned SAAC Mustangs.
After hashing out what the exact specifications for a 92 SAAC was, he then told me he would need to find the old parts and tooling to do it. A couple of months went by, no response to my emails… I figured this was not going to happen. Just like my original attempt, this car would remain on the factory Cobra wheels. I attempted a couple of more times to email Simmons without a response… I figured I’d give them a call. So I stayed up late a couple of occasions and ended up being able to actually talk to the guy who had been working with me. He told me that the parts he needed were on the way !!! A couple weeks later he sent me pictures of the completed wheels ! 10 days later they were at my door.
I decided to do the rear five lug conversion period correct. Just like the Saleen Mustang, SAAC used the SVO rear axles and brakes, so that’s what I used. Threw on the “SVO” axle girdle I had on the wall.
I had SN95 front spindles and brakes “on the shelf” too so I used that stuff for the front.
The interior I figured deserved what would have been the optional Recaro’s. Found a beautiful set …. In Malaysia. They even said they could customize them for me. I was a bit weary doing business over seas on a cash basis, but threw caution to the wind as having Recaro’s was a must for this project. We worked together on the design and measurements not just on the seats, but on the door panel inserts as well. The work was/is excellent. Debating on having the back seats done, or going delete. But, I found a shop willing to make the rear seats and as of right now that’s the plan. And the final touch will be the roll-bar/interior brace. I know a good guy who has a Saleen style set aside for me that I’ll modify to make SAAC “correct”.
I bet we know that guy too. Ha! – Bob
The engine part of this was “easy.” Since it’s already a GT40 motor All I needed was in upper tubular intake and the dress up valve covers and plenum cover. Once again Scott Warren’s generosity has was a big help. The valve covers arrived at my door. A stroke of luck hit me when a plenum cover was discovered during a SAAC Mustangs Facebook Messenger conversation. These things ain’t cheap anymore. Though painful, the dollars were exchanged for the highly sought plenum cover.
The only spot on the original car of concern was the hatch. For the money I would’ve spent to repair it, I opted for HO Fibertrends hatch – and to make it a little extra unique I dropped in a mint NON-Defrost glass (Believe it or not, rear visibility is greatly improved without the defrost lines). I never thought the cobra wing looked appropriate with the SAAC dress, so I opted for more of the LX wing look, but just an LX wing wouldn’t do. The Steeda wing was always my favorite and the more aggressive look plays well.
For a little extra weight reduction, since the hatch was fiberglass I figured I may as well take off the steel hood and set it aside for the HO fibertrends hood.
Brake coolers came from another SAAC owner that made a mold of the originals and made a few spare pairs as he drives his car. He was kind enough to send me a pair.
Strut Brace is also Steeda. You will notice this bar was used on the later built SAAC cars as well as the prototype SAAC cars as well, so not having the unicorn SAAC strut brace is ok with me.
Konis were original equipment on SAAC so I went with those.
Serial Badging – I had LONG ago had a screener make me a few of the serial badges SIMPLY TO COMPLETE THE LOOK of the car. So, as the press release stated back in ‘93 I stamped them with a CEO serial number, which of course never existed (that is why I am comfortable having them on the car, I would never, ever, try to bogus a car with an actual serial number).
As you can see Andrew went through every painstaking detail to create the 1993 Cobra SAAC “CEO” optioned car with a little bit of his own interpretation on a couple of things.
We think this car is stellar! Staying “True to The Period” for sure. Congrats on completing your vision Andrew!