Special Vehicle Operations
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
In 1981, Ford formed the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) group to design and develop performance parts and accessories related to the company's racing programs.
The group also built a special model to showcase these parts, the Ford Mustang SVO. The SVO Mustang was designed to compete directly with European sports sedans like BMW's 3 Series. To reduce costs, they used the existing 2.3 L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and Borg-Warner T-5 5-speed manual transmission from the Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. The car had a different computer and air meter and added an intercooler, a Hurst shifter, KONI shock absorbers, and 16 inch wheels, a novelty at the time. The car produced 175 hp (130 kW) for the 1984 model year (MY) and the first part of the 1985 MY, 205 hp (152 kW) after mid-1985 MY, and 200 hp (149 kW) for the 1986 MY. In total, 9,844 were built.
SVO/Ford Motorsports was later renamed Ford Racing Technology (FRT).
Special Vehicle Options (not to be confused with Special Vehicle Operations). SVO was created in Australia by Australian motor racing driver and engineer Mick Webb in the late 1980s. Dick Johnson also used the SVO nameplate, originally on modified XF Falcons. Webb and Johnson both claimed ownership of the acronym, however it was Webb whom first registered its usage. Mick modified new Ford EA Falcons (with "S Pac" or "Fairmont Ghia" base) with customised ROH 16" wheels, Recaro seats, MoMo steering wheels, suspension upgrades including Bilstein shock absorbers, engine modifications, spoilers and two tone grey paint work.
At the time, Ford were not investing in V8 or sports modifications and the relationship didn't evolve further. Tickford Vehicle Engineering, a joint venture between Ford Australia and Tickford, were contracted to perform enhancements to Ford sedans, leading to the XR sports models.
SVO produced 1600 Falcon Sedans, 1100 Ute's, 600 Fairlanes and 280 Capri's.
Melbourne and Sydney dealership records indicate that 5 SVO NL Fairlanes were produced between 1997 - 1998. Several EL XR8 and EL Fairmont Ghias were also produced. These vehicles employed a mix of EL GT, Ghia and parts bin accessories rather than a specific design, and were reviewed in Motor and Wheels magazines in 1997.
Mick Webb & SVO are still enhancing and modifying Ford products today. He owns and operates a factory in Charter Street, Ringwood, Victoria.