All About the 2003 Mustang

All About the 2003 Mustang

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond

Following up the fairly ordinary 2002 Mustang offerings, 2003 saw an abundance of impressive special editions, including the Terminator Cobra. As the New Edge era prepared to come to a close, Ford made sure that it finished with a roar rather than a whimper. In addition to the Cobra, the Mach 1 also returned this year.

There weren't many changes made to the V6 Mustang, or to the GT, but the changes that were made were generally well-received and new package offerings made sure that options were customizable. The Deluxe and Premium packages that Ford debuted in 2001 and 2002 stayed around, and that general trim format is still in use today simply because they make it easy to bundle together many of the features that drivers want (the Deluxe trim is now essentially known as the "Base").

Blue Mustang GT in driveway

2003 Ford Mustang Specs
Engine HP Torque
3.8L V6 193 hp 225 lb-ft
4.6L V8 260 hp 302 lb-ft
4.6L V8 (Mach 1) 305 hp 320 lb-ft
4.6L V8 (Cobra) 390 hp 390 lb-ft
Retail Prices
Model Price Adj. for Inflation
Standard Coupe $17,720 $24,272
Deluxe Coupe $18,450 $25,272
Premium Coupe $19,565 $26,799
Deluxe Convertible $23,455 $32,128
Premium Convertible $26,040 $35,668
GT Deluxe Coupe $23,705 $32,470
GT Premium Coupe $24,875 $34,073
GT Deluxe Convertible $28,045 $38,415
GT Premium Convertible $29,215 $40,017
Centennial Edition Coupe $25,870 $36,027
Centennial Edition Convertible $30,210 $42,071
Mach 1 $28,705 $39,319
SVT Cobra Coupe $33,460 $45,832
SVT Cobra Convertible $37,835 $51,825
Production Numbers
Model Quantity
V6 Coupe 59,943
V6 Convertible 26,500
GT Coupe 26,238
GT Convertible 15,518
Centennial Edition Coupe 717
Centennial Edition Convertible 1,323
Mach 1 9,652
SVT Cobra Coupe 8,394
SVT Cobra Convertible 5,082
Color Codes
Color Code Quantity
Zinc Yellow B7 10,141
Dark Shadow Gray CX 21,934
Torch Red D3 14,992
Redfire G2 20,908
True Blue L2 10,245
Azure Blue L5 2,223
Sonic Blue SN 7,566
Tropic Green SU 1,748
Mineral Gray TK 452
Satin Silver TL 323
Black UA 24,937
Silver YN 21,216
Oxford White Z1 16,449
Interior Trim Colors
Color and Material V6 Code GT Code
Medium Graphite Cloth 92 U2
Medium Parchment Cloth 9H UH
Dark Charcoal Cloth 9W UW
Medium Graphite Leather T2 X2
Oxford White Leather TZ XZ
Medium Parchment Leather TH XH
Dark Charcoal Leather TW XW
Length 183.2"
Width 73.1"
Height 53.1"
Wheelbase 101.3"
Front Headroom 38.1"
Front Legroom 42.6"
Rear Headroom 35.8"
Rear Legroom 29.9"
Curb Weight
Model Curb Weight
V6 Coupe 3,069 pounds
V6 Convertible 3,208 pounds
GT Coupe 3,241 pounds
GT Convertible 3,379 pounds
Mach 1 3,465 pounds
Cobra Coupe 3,655 pounds
Cobra Convertible 3,780 pounds

2003 Mustang Engines and Transmissions

The V6 Mustang saw another year with an overhead valve configuration engine design coupled with a T5 manual transmission. The GT also saw few changes, as it once again boasted a single overhead cam (SOHC) configuration, but both the Mach 1 and the Cobra saw DOHC configurations.

In many ways, this is the perfect year to examine what factors other than displacement can affect engine performance, since the GT, Mach 1, and Cobra all had identical displacements but wildly different horsepower outputs. Part of that is due to the valves and cam timing on the Mach 1 and the Cobra, but from there, the Cobra sees additional horsepower gains due to some of the factors that are frequently overlooked in engine performance. The Cobra had an improved crankshaft, improved connecting rods, and improved breathing. The supercharger didn’t hurt either.

These factors meant that there was, in fact, a replacement for displacement, and that replacement was improved air intake and exhaust.

In terms of transmissions, the 2003 Mustang saw few changes from 2002. The notable exception, of course, is the Cobra.

The Terminator Cobra used the T-56 transmission that had previously been used on the 2000 Cobra R.

2003 Mustang Transmission Ratios
TransmissionFirst GearSecond GearThird GearFourth GearFifth GearSixth GearReverseTorque Capacity
T5 3.34 1.93 1.29 1.00 0.67 N/A 3.15 260 lb-ft
TR-3650 3.38 1.99 1.32 1.00 0.67 N/A 3.38 360 lb-ft
T-56 2.66 1.78 1.30 1.00 0.80 0.63 2.90 450 lb-ft
4R70W 2.84 1.55 1.00 0.70 N/A N/A 2.23 700 lb-ft

2003 Mustang Colors

There were several new colors available for the 2003 Mustang year. Azure Blue was only available for the Mach 1, and Satin Silver was only available for the Cobra, but all other colors were available for the GT and V6 models, with no GT-only colors this year.

Dark Shadow Gray and Redfire were both introduced this year, and it would be the last year for Zinc Yellow. Fans of yellow Mustangs didn’t have to worry though, as Screaming Yellow was introduced the very next year. Both of these shades are some of our favorite Mustang Yellows.

Color samples for 2003 Mustangs

2003 Cobra

The 2003 Cobra is undoubtedly one of the most impressive vehicles from the entire SN95 generation. Dubbed the “Terminator Cobra,” it’s an engineering marvel comprised of improvements that are designed to address the weaknesses of some of the earlier Cobras.

2002 and 2000 both famously didn’t have Cobras, and 1999 saw most of its Cobras recalled due to insufficient horsepower. Though 2001 did have a Cobra release, it was generally considered lackluster due to some engine pinging issues. The SVT team wasn’t going to let that happen again.

Unlike the 2000 Cobra which had an aluminum block, the 2003 Cobra has a cast-iron block with aluminum heads. The crankshaft is fully counterweighted, and the connecting rods are the improved Manley Rods. The T-56 Transmission it’s equipped with had previously been used in the 2000 Cobra R, and has a max torque rating of 450 lb-ft. A fully functional hood scoop supplies the supercharged engine with a ready supply of dense, cool air.

The Terminator Cobra had 17” x 9” wheels, which were made of cast aluminum alloy, with chromed wheels available as an option. Either wheel option came with 275/40ZR17 Eagle F1 tires.

Like the ’99 and ’00 Cobra R, 2003 came with an independent rear suspension that was custom-tuned in order to handle the additional power output of the Cobra.

Though it may look like the 2003 Cobra came in a wide spectrum of colors, it actually was only available with certain colors at certain times. Because the 2002 Cobra production was shut down, the 2003 Cobra production started early and used some 2002 colors that were later replaced with 2003 Cobra colors. Torch Red was traded out for Redfire, Satin Silver for Silver, and Mineral Gray for Dark Shadow Gray. Subsequently, all six of these colors have very low quantities and are exceptionally rare.

2003 Cobra Coupe Production Numbers
ColorGraphite SuedeParchment SuedeRed LeatherTotal
Oxford White 451 170 0 621
Ebony 1,618 252 381 2,251
Torch Red 214 59 365 638
Redfire 758 197 0 955
Zinc Yellow 490 0 0 490
Sonic Blue 1,029 23 0 1,052
Satin Silver 242 0 0 242
Mineral Grey 302 0 0 302
Silver 735 0 257 992
Dark Shadow Gray 851 0 0 851
2003 Cobra Convertible Production
ColorGraphite SuedeParchment SuedeRed LeatherTotal
Oxford White 171 137 0 308
Ebony 1,095 190 394 1,679
Torch Red 157 56 369 582
Redfire 414 196 0 610
Zinc Yellow 319 0 0 319
Sonic Blue 340 15 0 355
Satin Silver 81 0 0 81
Mineral Gray 154 0 0 154
Silver 311 0 237 548
Dark Shadow Gray 446 0 0 446

Other Special Editions

Though the Cobra certainly stole the show, 2003 had a variety of additional special edition Mustangs. While most of these were primarily appearance upgrades with little to no impact on performance, a few have become classics, coveted for their sleek looks and thoughtful modifications.

10th Anniversary Cobra

The Special Vehicle Team at Ford celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2003, so they produced 2,003 special edition Cobras to commemorate the event. 1,003 were coupes, and 1,000 were convertibles.

These were only available in Black, Silver, and Torch Red.

Though most of the changes were cosmetic, they were very attractive. For the 10th-anniversary edition Cobra, the brake calipers were powder coated in an eye-catching red that matched the leather seat inserts. The steering wheel, shift boot, shift knob, and emergency brake were covered in a carbon fiber printed leather trim.

Naturally, there was also unique badging for this edition.

SVT badge on Torch Red bumper

Mach 1

The Mach 1 was intended to appeal to both old and new Mustang enthusiasts, so it included some callbacks to classic Mustangs in addition to some improved technology from modern engine design. It included a functional hood scoop designed to resemble a shaker scoop, a matte black hood stripe, a black decklid spoiler, special rocker panels, body side scoops, and five-spoke wheels.

In addition to its exterior modifications though, the Mach 1 also received some serious performance boosts. In particular, it, much like the Cobra, featured a DOHC engine instead of the SOHC used by the GT at this time. This improved the horsepower and performance significantly, though it didn’t get all of the performance modifications that the Cobra did.

Additionally, Ford gave the Mach 1 a unique muffler design, which made this 2003 special edition sound as great as it looked.

Bright red Mustang with black hood stripe

Centennial Edition

The only color you could order a Centennial Edition Mustang in was black. Though it was basically a GT, the Centennial Edition got some pretty great upgrades, including special leather seats that offered power lumbar support, special side badging, and the six-disc sound system upgrade.

Only 2,080 Centennial Edition Mustangs were produced, and the package was priced at a mere $995 upgrade cost, which was pretty reasonable considering.

A black Mustang in driveway

2003 Mods

The Terminator Cobra is still a competitive beast, and with a few upgrades can easily compete to this day. It’s important to be cautious if you do have one of the special editions from this year. They’ve already been improved and upgraded so significantly that you’ll want to take that into account when considering your own build or you’ll accidentally reduce the power.

If you’re lucky enough to own a V6 or GT though, there are countless ways to boost your Mustang, and you can easily use the Mach 1 or the Terminator to create a build list that will improve your ride significantly.

New Edge Mustangs make great candidates for Coyote swaps, and moving from an overhead valve or SOHC to a DOHC will substantially improve your power output. Though some “purists” will tell you that displacement is the number one factor in engine performance, there’s significantly more to it than that, which this year of Mustang proved fairly conclusively.

Supercharging or turbocharging your engine is another way to boost performance. Coupled with improved headers, a functional hood scoop, or a cold air intake, you’ll see some definite performance improvements in your 2003 Mustang.

2003 in Review

After the comparatively uninspiring line-up that was available in 2002, 2003 was an exciting year as Ford revved up for the final years of the SN95 generation. The Terminator Cobra was undeniably the most exciting Mustang to come out of Ford in quite some time, and even now is still a much-lauded performance vehicle. The Mach 1 would have been the superstar of any other year but stacked up against the Terminator it frequently gets ignored, which is a shame, because it’s still a great Mustang with a fantastic look.

Though the anniversary packages are primarily aesthetic upgrades, they both included a couple of performance-boosting features that made them desirable in addition to their incredibly limited production numbers.

Overall, the 2003 Mustang was exactly what enthusiasts expect from the later years of a generation: A refinement of what worked, improvements for what didn’t, and a host of special editions to lure out those who wanted an SN95 but just hadn’t committed to one yet.

Want to compare these specs to another SN95 Mustang? Check out our pages for the 1995 Mustang Specs, 1996 Mustang Specs, 1997 Mustang Specs, 1998 Mustang Specs, 1999 Mustang Specs, 2000 Mustang Specs, 2001 Mustang Specs, and 2002 Mustang Specs.

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Image Credit: AutoTrader, Canadian Mustang Club

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.