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Ford builds customer drag race car


Cobra Jet revives famous nameplate from the 1960s.

Ford is marking the 40th anniversary of the Cobra Jet Mustang drag race car with a Ford Racing-developed customer car elligible for NHRA sportsmen drag racing categories.

It unveiled the Mustang FR500CJ (Cobra Jet) at November’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

The new Cobra Jet is NHRA-legal and ready for the dragstrip. It’s Ford’s first factory-built Ford drag racer since the 1968 original.

Ford says it will be able to run in the 10-second range straight from the factory.

The car has a 400-hp 5.4-litre supercharged V8 engine with a standard six-speed manual transmission (automatic optional) and a drag race wheel/tyre combination.

The $US69, 900 car has unique trim and an optional 2008 Cobra Jet graphics kit.

“The 2008 CJ will get us more involved with the sportsmen racers in drag racing,” says Ford Racing Technology director, Brian Wolfe.

“At this point there are a lot of little guys who are running Fords from the 60s, 70s and even a few from the 80s, but those cars aren’t necessarily relevant to what we’re producing today.

“Those Ford racers are among the most loyal Ford supporters and customers we have (and) the CJ makes a statement for our company that even in times as tough as these, we can introduce something as special as the Cobra Jet.”

Drag racing legend and Rhode Island Ford dealer, Bob Tasca, conceived the original Cobra Jet Mustang.

He used to raid the Ford parts shelf to upgrade the engines on some of the Mustangs he was selling, and developed the KR-8 conversion package.

Henry Ford II announced that Ford would put together several Tasca 428-powered Mustangs for drag teams competing in the 1968 Winternationals.

Two of them made it into the finals and Al Joniec went on to win the Super Stock championship. After the car’s success at the Winternationals, Ford announced that it would produce the 428ci Cobra Jet engine.

“When I made the Cobra Jet engine available to Ford, they found out quickly how good it was and they decided to make it happen,” said Tasca.

“My feeling has always been that Mustang should be the performance leader for the Ford Motor Company. I like performance that helps me sell the unit. What the Cobra Jet did for Mustang was phenomenal.”

The 2008 Cobra Jet joins Ford Racing’s stable of customer race cars: the Mustang FR500S, Mustang FR500C and Mustang FR500GT. All are turnkey cars available through the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalogue and US Ford dealers.

All of the additional components for the Cobra Jet are in the Ford Performance Parts catalogue, and because it’s produced from a base V6 Mustang, any customer can turn a Mustang into a Cobra Jet by buying those parts.

The car makes its competition debut in the 2009 Winternationals in February.

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