THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet – a factory-built drag racing hero that slayed on the street and strip across America.
By the late 60s, the Mustang was having trouble keeping up with GM's big-block Camaros and Firebirds and Mopar’s quickies, but the introduction of the Cobra Jet changed that.
In early 1968 Ford introduced the 427ci V8 as an option on regular ’Stangs. Although it was a detuned 390hp version of the race-ready donk, it was still quick for the time, but only a few were built. However, later that year came the 428 Cobra Jet, packing 428 cubes, larger valves and the race-spec 427's intake manifold. It made around 410hp, although Ford quoted it at 335hp, hoping to keep insurance companies and racetrack officials happy.
The Cobra Jet ran 11.5-second ETs down the quarter, and that year the Ford factory team crushed the competition at the NHRA Winternationals with eight specially prepared Cobra Jet Mustangs.
Since then, Ford has continued to build Cobra Jet drag racing versions of regular Mustangs, though it promises its latest, 50th-anniversary effort to be the quickest and fastest yet, capable of mid-eight-second quarter-mile times at over 150mph. But while the original was still a street car, these days they’re for track use only; the 68 new Cobra Jets set to be built won’t have VIN numbers. Sigh.
Under the bonnet will be a 5.2-litre supercharged V8, which Ford is yet to confirm power figures for – but to run eights you’d have to imagine it’s in the 1000hp region. The Cobra Jet also ditches the Mustang’s independent rear suspension for a more drag strip-friendly four-link nine-inch rear end fitted with Weld Racing wheels. Inside, it’ll be kitted out with an NHRA-approved rollcage and race-certified seats.
All 68 Cobra Jets will almost certainly be left-hand drive and sold only in America.
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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