Your Handy 1994–2004 Ford Mustang (SN95) Buyer’s Guide


The Fox body Mustang pulled an exceptionally long tour of duty for Ford, debuting in 1979 and lasting into the early ’90s as the company’s go-to muscle machine. The pace of technological progress had long since caught up to the Fox chassis by the time its replacement was announced, and hopes were high at the Blue Oval for the SN95 Mustang, which carried the car into its fourth generation starting with the 1994 model year.

2000_ford_svt_mustang_cobra generational group

The SN95 (also written as SN-95) presented a mix of the familiar and the dramatically different as Ford eased the Mustang into the world of modern automotive design. The car’s basic platform was still heavily based on the Fox, and was in fact referred to as the Fox-4 internally. Still, it would be a mistake to call the SN-95 a simple re-skin, as its much-improved chassis was heavily reinforced in order to improve on the older model’s reputation of having the torsional strength of a wet noodle—ultimately only the floor pan and a suspension cross member lifted wholesale from the previous Mustang. More easily identifiable as a Fox carry-over was the 5.0-liter pushrod V-8 that pulled duty during the first two years of the SN-95’s run.

In the styling department, both the initial coupe and convertible traded the Fox’s rectangular shape for a swooping, rounded look that called to mind the original 1964 model’s cues combined with the ovoid lines that were all the rage at Ford during the 1990s. This trend continued inside the car’s much nicer cabin, and all around, the updates made the car more comfortable as a daily driver and better situated on the current design landscape.

The most abrupt—and divisive—SN-95 characteristic arrived in 1996, however, when the first of Ford’s modular V-8s graced the Mustang’s engine bay. This overhead cam design stood in stark contrast to both Ford’s own pushrod past and the large-displacement offerings available from the car’s primary rivals, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. It also pointed the way towards the future of Ford performance, and quickly became the jump-off for a steadily-advancing series of modular tire shredders.

There’s no doubt that the SN-95 served a key role for Ford in transitioning its enormous gaggle of Mustang fans into a high-tech tomorrow (especially in terms of drivetrain development) across its ten year run. By the end of 2004, split between the initial curvy look and the ‘New Edge’ visual updated that arrived in 1999, the SN-95 had delivered a host of special edition cars while also retiring one of the most recognizable badges in Mustang history.

In total, more than 1.5 million 1994-2004 Ford Mustangs were built, making them the third-most popular generation of the pony car in terms of sales. Today, these vehicles represent a fantastic bargain for collectors rebuffed by the soaring price for Fox body cars, with their appeal further cemented by their better handling, longer list of modern conveniences, and significantly greater comfort. Much of the hubbub that initially surrounded the modular V-8 has now faded into obscurity, too, with the engine enjoying nearly as much aftermarket support from modern suppliers as its pushrod progenitor. In short, the SN-95 is now perhaps the cheapest way to access a classic, rear-wheel drive muscle car experience.

Charting The Changes

1994 Ford Mustang history group fronts three quarter

As noted above, the SN95 Mustang can be divided into two distinct categories: the original SN95 (1994-1998) and the New Edge update (1999-2004). Each was further split into coupe and convertible body styles.

1994-1995 cars are identifiable by their open grille (featuring a galloping pony emblem) and horizontal taillight layout. Base cars were outfitted with a different bumper compared to the GT trim, with the most noticeable difference being the large, circular fog lights for the latter (versus smaller inset units on the entry-level models). The Mustang GT further came with a trunk spoiler as standard equipment.

1995 Ford Mustang GT Convertible ad
Ford/Flickr/Alden Jewell

For 1995 it was also possible to order the GTS trim, which stuffed the GT’s V-8 engine inside the base body style (with bargain basement equipment levels to match), and the SVT Cobra R, which came with its own body kit, a Cobra emblem in the grille and on the fenders, a tall cowl induction hood, and its own 17-inch wheels. The interior of the Cobra R was stripped of all niceties, with not even a rear seat available. A less intense SVT Cobra could also be ordered, and while it resembled the GT it swapped in a revised bumper and Cobra badging.

For 1996, a honeycomb filled the grille opening and the taillights were flipped 90-degrees to better ape those of the 60s-era cars. 1996 also continued the SVT Cobra trim (available as both a coupe and a convertible), which added Cobra badging, the color-shifting, ‘Chroma Flair’ paint option, unique headlights with a revised front bumper, and its own spoiler and five-spoke rims. Interior changes included white-faced, 160-mph gauges. In 1997, the grille insert left the picture, while the GT picked up a set of five-spoke rims of its own, while 1998 editions are notable for losing the digital clock in the cabin.

1999_ford_mustang_gt_convertible front three quarter

The New Edge arrived in 1999, and it presented a sharper update to the original SN95 sheet metal. On top of a revised interior angles are found everywhere, including the front and rear bumpers, the scallop carved out of the doors and the scoop just ahead of the rear fender, the hawk-like headlights, and the new (false) air intake on the hood. The vehicle’s taillights and grille are also updated, and exhaust pipes are larger. SVT Cobra editions are notable for their lack of hood intake, while a 35th Anniversary GT exaggerated the scoops on the hood and sides of the standard GT, and added a taller spoiler out back.

2000_ford_svt_mustang_cobra pan action

Visually, things were status quo for the 2000 model year (save for newly rounded exhaust outlets carved into the back bumper of the Mustang GT), with the Cobra on hiatus. In its place was the hardcore SVT Cobra R, which adopted a full aero kit including a massive fixed wing towering over the trunk, as well as a bulging ‘power dome’ hood and smoked headlights. As before, the cabin of the Cobra R was barebones, with no radio, air conditioning, or rear seat, and it featured a set of Recaro buckets.

For 2001, the Cobra R was gone but its smoked headlights became standard on the GT (which also gained the 1999 model’s 35th anniversary extroversion in terms of scoops and spoiler, and new Torq Thrust-style 17-inch wheels). The rest of the Mustang’s exterior styling carried over, and the visually distinct Bullitt model (calling to mind the classic 1960s Steve McQueen star car) was also added to the GT order sheet. In addition to its aluminum fuel door and retro wheels, it also featured Brembo brakes, a lowered suspension, and 1960s style gauge faces and leather seats. The SVT Cobra also returned, and now featured COBRA embossed into the rear bumper.

2002 was largely a carry-over for the Mustang, with no Cobras produced for North America and no more Bullitt option. 2003 was more of the same for the base and GT Mustangs, but two notable special editions debuted: the SVT Cobra, which featured a dual cowl-induction hood, a lip spoiler on the trunk, and gaping air intakes in the front bumper, and the Mach 1, which can be spotted by way of its ‘Shaker’ hood with a cut-out for a functional air scoop, as well as through its striping and badging. Each of these models continued to be sold through 2004, which was the final year for the SN95/New Edge Mustang—and for the Mustang Cobra, which has yet to reappear in the modern line-up. That last year of production also saw the return of color-shifting paint for the Cobra, now called MystiChrome.

2004 Mystichrome Ford ad

From 1994 to 1998 the base engine offered in the Ford Mustang was a 3.8-liter V-6 that produced between 145 and 150 horsepower, along with 215 lb-ft of torque. New Edge cars upgraded this engine in 1999 with an improved fuel injection system that pushed horsepower to just over 190, matched with 220 lb-ft of torque. In 2004 a 3.9-liter V-6 generating exactly the same numbers also appeared in late-production base models due to a production shortfall of 3.8-liter units. Transmission choices included a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual.

Mustang GT buyers in 1994 and 1995 received essentially the same V-8 that had been found in the previous year’s Fox body car, albeit with a lower intake manifold and revised pistons. This 5.0-liter mill was good for 215 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. In 1996 the GT shifted permanently to a 4.6-liter, single overhead camshaft V-8 that matched the 5.0 in terms of output (gaining 10 additional ponies and five lb-ft of twist for 1998 thanks to a revised exhaust system). A major update to the modular motor arrived for 1999. Dubbed the ‘PI’ due to its ‘Performance Improved’ heads, the 4.6 also gained a new intake, coil-on-plug ignition, and a better camshaft that pushed it to 260 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque, where it would stay for the remainder of the New Edge run. The GT was available with five-speed manual and four-speed automatic gearboxes.


As noted there were several SVT Cobra variants available during the SN95 run. Of these, the most controversial are the 1999 editions, which featured a 32-valve version of the 4.6 modular motor advertised at 320 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. Dyno and acceleration tests revealed those figures as too optimistic, resulting in Ford stopping the sale of the car eight months into the year and performing a series of upgrades to the engine, exhaust, and ECU to correct the problem (which was also offered free of charge to existing owners). It’s also worth noting that this was the first year that the Mustang Cobra was equipped with an independent rear suspension as opposed to the standard live-axle setup.

Running down the SN95’s other Cobra variants are the 5.0-liter models available in 1994-1995 (240 horsepower), the 32-valve, Teksid-cast aluminum 4.6-liter sold from 1996 to 1998 (305 horsepower), and the 2001 and 2002 return of this engine after the disastrous 1999 Windsor block motor. From 2003 to 2004, the SVT Cobra gained an Eaton supercharger and a six-speed manual transmission (as opposed to the five-speed found with its predecessors). Engine output was conservatively rated at 390 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, with Ford not wanting to over-promise and under-deliver twice: these cars regularly dyno near that number at the rear wheels. Nicknamed the ‘Terminator,’ they represent the mightiest SN95 Mustangs ever built.

Lastly, there are the SVT Cobra R variants. In 1995, 250 examples were built featuring a 300 horsepower, 5.8-liter pushrod V-8 (also good for 365 lb-ft of torque), while in 2000 the car returned with a 385 horsepower, 5.4-liter modular V-8 (rated at 385 lb-ft of torque). It is the only other factory SN95 aside from the 2003-2004 SVT Cobra to feature a six-speed manual gearbox.

2001_ford_mustang_bullitt rear three quarter

The 2001 Bullitt featured an upgraded, 265 horsepower version of the 4.6-liter modular motor, while the 2003-2004 Mach 1 borrowed the 305 horsepower aluminum block motor from the SVT Cobra.

Who To Know Before Inspection

The SN95 is a well-understood and properly supported muscle car at this stage of its life, and there are plenty of excellent resources available for owners. In particular, extensive and thorough documentation of the platform is available via Mustang Specs, which also provides useful VIN decoders for those seeking as much information as possible about a specific vehicle. Late Model Restoration is another great source for parts and expertise on all Mustangs, including the SN95.

Anyone who’s spent any time in the Mustang universe, however, knows that CJ Pony Parts remains one of the scene’s biggest players when it comes to restoration and support. We spoke to Bill Tumas, the company’s brand ambassador, to get the insider info that can help buyer’s make the right choice when purchasing an SN95-generation car.

Tumas points out that the vast majority of SN95 and New Edge Mustangs represent a very strong value compared to the Fox body cars, which is compounded by how much easier they are to live with.

1994 Ford Mustang convertible front three quarter

“The ’94-’95 Cobra is especially affordable,” he says. “Basically, it’s the same as the ’93 (Fox) in terms of engine and transmission, but it’s got better brakes, better wheels, and a better interior. They just haven’t taken off yet. I think that by far these cars represent the best value right now.”

Even the early modular Cobras have a lot going for them. “The ’96 to ’98 Cobras are great cars. They’re 305 horsepower from the factory, they’re fun cars, and they’re cheap. You can run 12’s pretty easily with them, and it doesn’t take much besides gears and a tire to get there, to help with the lack of low-end torque.”

Tumas cautions that the modular motors in the 1996-1998 Mustang GT can feel a little weak as compared to the PI update that arrived in 1999, making them more suitable as cruisers than all-out performance machines. That being said, they are still very easy to work on and build power from, once you get the basics of an overhead cam motor down. Coyote swaps from more modern Mustangs are also becoming increasingly common in these cars, as their engine bays have no trouble accommodating other modular engines.

2000_ford_svt_mustang_cobra front three quarter action

“The most desirable cars in terms of collecting are the SVT Cobra Rs, of course, followed by the ’03-’04 SVT Cobras, which are fetching nearly the same money now as they did when they were new,” Tumas says. But there are also a few under-the-radar options out there. “You had the 1995 Cobra convertible that was offered with a removable hard top for just one year, which is extremely rare—only 499 built, along with nine other cars that weren’t Cobras. They came with a stand and a video tape showing you exactly how to remove it. There are also the Saleen and Roush Mustangs to consider from this era, as well as the Boss Shinoda appearance package cars.”

Before You Buy

2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra with classic

There’s little to fear in terms of weakness from the factory SN95 drivetrain. Manual transmissions hold up well at stock power levels (with the later 3650 New Edge gearboxes a bit beefier than the original T45), and the Ford 8.8-inch rear end is legendary in terms of longevity.

“Both the pushrod and the modular V-8s have proven to be very reliable motors,” says Tumas. “There are plenty of two-valve and four-valve cars out there with a boat load of miles. I have a friend in California with a 1996 that has just under 500,000 miles on the original motor.” That being said, the New Edge cars with the PI engines have a reputation for intake manifolds that leak and crack, which is something to look out for when inspecting a potential purchase.

It’s also a good idea to check a few specific areas for rust. “Shock towers, the frame rail below the shock towers, and the floor pans are all areas you will want to inspect,” explains Tumas. “You should also look at the torque boxes, which have a tendency to rip where the control arms meet.” Speaking of rust and water intrusion, no SN95 cars came with a sunroof from the factory, so if you see one, it’s an aftermarket part.

In terms of parts availability, mechanically the Mustang’s combination of modular and old-style 5.0 engines means you can throw a rock on the Internet and hit a dozen aftermarket suppliers. This is on top of good factory support for these motors. The body and interior of the SN95 is more of a mixed bag.

1998_ford_mustang_gt_convertible high angle rear three quarter

“Factory parts availability for body panels and trim pieces is starting to fade off,” says Tumas. “You can get cowls and parts that commonly fail, but larger items like bumper covers, fenders, doors, door panels, these are all harder to get now. You’ll end up scouting salvage yards, because the cars are not old enough that replica parts are being made for them yet, but they’re no longer new enough for strong dealer inventory. You’ll have to seek out new old stock for a number of items.”

Some parts for special model SN95s can be extremely expensive to purchase, if you can even find them. “[2004] Mystichrome Cobras had a unique steering wheel and set of seats whose upholstery isn’t available anywhere. They go for silly money, something like $4,000 for the steering wheel alone.”

What To Pay

Remember all that talk about how affordable the SN95 Mustang has remained even as Fox prices shoot through the roof? A decent driver GT in #3 (“good”) condition will cost anywhere between $7500 and $10,000, with the New Edge cars leading the way in terms of affordability. Even a museum-quality first-year SN95 GT will cost you less than $40,000, with an almost $10k discount for the final year 2004 editions. An SVT Cobra from 1994 to 1998 runs between $13,000 and $17,000 for a #3, with another $10k added for a #2 condition example. As always, get the latest valuation data from Hagerty by clicking here.

1996_ford_mustang_gt_convertible side

Unobtanium SN95’s crack the six-figure barrier ($120k for a well-kept 2000 Cobra R is par for the course, and the 1995 model year checks in at $90k), but even the illustrious Terminator trades hands around the low-$60k mark at its absolute peak, putting them well within reach of collectors. You can cut that number in half for the supercharged SVT Cobra if you’re willing to settle for a still-excellent #2 condition car.

As reasonable as these numbers are, they still represent a 52 percent increase in median value of #2 condition cars when comparing sales to those from 2022. Most of that renewed interest came from Boomers and Millennials, which is the inverse of what is typically seen when looking at performance vehicles of this particular vintage. The fact that these are still the cheapest generation of Mustang out there indicates just how under-appreciated the SN95 has been to this point.

Remember: even when looking at a modern classic like the 1994-2004 Ford Mustang, it’s always worth your while to have a vehicle inspected by a professional prior to purchase. Keep in mind that buying the best example you can afford will keep you ahead financially versus picking up a bargain in rough shape and paying for a restoration.

1999_ford_svt_mustang_cobra rear three quarter


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    I’m too tall to be comfortable in this generation-lacked front legroom. S550 corrected that.

    In 93 I got to backroad compare a new Cobra and a new SHO (dealer buddy of Big Brother). SHO faster/quicker/comfortable, was purchased. Could hardly push clutch down legroom too tight in Cobra.

    This was one of the major benefits I experienced when I upgraded from my 01 V6 to an 18 GT. I love the look of the New Edge, but the seats and legroom were very uncomfortable as a taller guy.

    I love my 2002 GT 🙂 At 150k miles, the only part I needed to replace was the intake manifold. I sure hope I can hang onto this car forever and become that old man with a “classic” Mustang in the garage.

    My 2004 Cobra has given me the most smiles per mile than any other car in my 40+ years of driving. Has also been the most reliable and durable.

    I never realized how underrated these SN95’s are, until actually owning one. I’ve had my 2004 GT, in screaming yellow, for 5 years and have had zero issues. Sure, it’s not as fast as the new ones, but it can get you into trouble, if you want to. I’m a member of a local Mustang FB group and I wish I had a dollar every time someone in the group is trying to trouble shoot problems with their S550. I sit back and chuckle about the headaches that come with the newer generation cars, while at the same time, am thankful I have an extra 40k+ in my bank account to spend on other things in life.

    I have a 96 SVT Cobra and it’s a fun car even though it only has 305 HP! I hit 140 driving to L.A. from Idaho! The Ford dealer there wasn’t marking them like in L.A.

    Next to the 2nd gen Mustang II, this is my least favorite generation of Mustang. I liked them OK enough in the 90’s just because they were Mustangs and the rivals over at GM didn’t look that much better. I do really think the 90’s overall was a poor era for styling. The era of melting cheese, bars of soap and jelly beans. Add to that, the performance numbers for these cars was not only paled by the competition, but also recent prior versions of itself, and you can see why they get glossed over so often. For me, it’s either a Fox or an S197 for a modern Mustang.

    I have a 2004 Mach 1, 5 speed in Competition Orange. 41 k on the clock. Very quick, hard accelerating car. I absolutely love it. It would be nice to see the values of these start going up, you just don’t see too many for sale anymore.

    I had an ’03 in Azure Blue for nearly 10 years. It was a blast to drive and that shaker hood really got some attention when open and folks could see the massive DOHC heads. I was asked if it was a 427 once at a car show, where I won perenially top 3 in the ’99-04 category.
    Took it drag racing “run what ya brung” in Sacramento and then road course track day 2 days later. My face hurt from smiling I had such a great time.
    I miss that car, but not so much the price of premium gas. It was a lot nicer than my first Mustang, a ’68 coupe with the straight 6.

    Howdy Billy,
    I bought the wife a 2004 Dark Shadow Gray Mach 1 off the showroom floor when her time driving children around in minivans and SUVs came to an end. She said she always wanted a Mustang and the ’04 was a bit too much for her. She still has it parked in our garage. Seldom drives it, but will not even consider selling it.

    These were never really my favorite, but I fell into a deal on low mileage 2000 GT two years ago, and will have to say it is a great daily driver. It’s not the fastest thing,but enough to be fun when pushed . The mod motor is not the cheapest to build though, but it is not an issue for a daily, and I have a 1969 Sport Roof to play with for that kind of fun.

    Thank you for your nice article on this under appreciated Mustang. A little more could have been mentioned on all the upgrades in the 94-95 Cobra SVT. Suspension, brakes and engine were significantly better than the GT. The 240hp rating on the 5.0 was very much underrated. More like 240 to the rear wheels!
    If it wasn’t for my left knee I’d be keeping my 95. Find it on Hagerty Marketplace.

    “the New Edge cars with the PI engines have a reputation for intake manifolds that leak and crack, which is something to look out for when inspecting a potential purchase.”

    It happened to my brother’s 1997 GT. I was told that there was a TSB about it. I was also told ’99 on up changed to an aluminum intake to fix that but maybe that was not the case?

    2004 Mach 1. You simply can’t beat the looks on this shaker hood. Every where I go, people admire it and love watching it SHAKE on start up! Nice performance stock with unlimited speed options available. 100+ thru the 1/4 is plenty for me. I had a 2008 KR with 540hp. The Mach 1 is simply more fun and looks better in Azure blue!

    I have a 1994 GT convertible with the 5 speed (14K miles) and for how I use it on 35-45mph curvy country roads, it is a fun car to drive on nice days. I like the interior design but understanding car style in the 1990’s with tri-spoke wheels and unusually rounded bodies, it fits right in with the era. As an affordable 2 door, V8, RWD with a manual transmission and no computerized driving aids, it is a great way for anyone on a tight budget to get an enthusiast car.

    I owned an ’89 5.0 5-speed “hatchback”, and have owned a ’97 GT 4.6 5-speed for several years as a toy. I pretty much prefer the earlier car for its low & midrange response, and its styling and Lear (Recaro-style) seats. The ’97 has a stiffer unibody, but it’s still quite flexible. Fun car, and you can drive it within an inch of its life on a road course; I’d upgrade the structure, power, gearing & brakes if I was to re-visit the track with it, but it’s very pleasant & gets 30 MPG on the highway. The only early SN95s with round fog/driving lamps are Cobras, and all 4.6s can crack their plastic intakes or weep at the coolant fittings. The DOHC Cobras are a significant step up from the GT, if you can stretch your wallet a bit, but outside of the occasional temptation for a 2008 Bullitt, I’m quite content with the car. A few mods like lower springs, wheels & tires, camber plates, shifter, strut brace, and flatter/less silly rear spoiler all improved it without messing up the basic experience.

    I know the hot cars are where the interest is, but what about the low-rent V6s? I understand they were quick enough to keep up with traffic. A nice V6 convertible seems like a nice way to spend a sunny day. Only question: was the head gasket/warped head problem as bad as I’ve heard?

    I’d like to address this from a mustang lovers perspective. I have 5 mustangs from 73-03. I daily a 98 V6 coupe. It once belonged to a school teacher early on and developed a head gasket problem. Ford went to an MLS type gasket and this fixed the problem with these. Unfortunately, they had by then garnered a bad reputation for the little V6. That also is unfortunate, because I’ve found that these are extremely reliable cars once that problem is corrected.
    My 98 gets 29mpg if I baby it and 26 if I don’t. It has 315,000 miles (of which I myself have run up 211,000) and I have replaced 2 sensors. That’s it other than normal maintenance. They’re actually EXCELLENT cars for a daily driver that has enough power to do what you need to do with excellent mileage to boot.
    If I need a dose of speed I’ll drive my heavily modded 93 or 03 GT’s.

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