Ford’s second-generation Cobra Jet Mustang to debut in Pomona

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Latest News


by John Jodauga, National DRAGSTER

This is the new ’08 Mustang Cobra Jet that John Calvert will debut in Stock at the 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals. The photo was taken at Phil Mandella’s shop in Montclair, Calif., where final pre-race prep work was performed on the chassis.

The new generation of Cobra Jet cars is powered by a 425-horsepower 330-cid DOHC engine equipped with a factory supercharger.

Among the features of the race-ready package are an aluminum hood with hood pins and the cold-air package hood scoop.

Roll cages, complete with a five-point harness, were installed at one of the Roush Industries buildings.

One of the long-standing factory hot rod modifications that has been popular since the early 1960s, installing the battery in the trunk over the right rear tire to improve traction, is standard on all the new Cobra Jets.

Other standard items with the new Cobra Jet package include special Bogart aluminum wheels, nine-inch racing slicks, and a beefed-up rear-end housing with aftermarket axles and spool.

One of the most compelling attractions about the Winternationals during its near half-century history has been the long line of significant drag racing vehicles that have made their debut at the traditional NHRA season opener. The diehard Ford fans, for instance, have witnessed the inaugural showings of such famed machines as the 427-cid Fairlane Thunderbolt, which Gas Ronda drove to SS/S class honors at the 1964 Winternationals, followed by Bill Lawton’s A/Factory Experimental eliminator victory the next year with Ford’s then-new SOHC 427 Mustang.

Another great moment in Ford history took place at the 1968 Winternationals, where the new 428-cid Ford Cobra Jet SS/E entries appeared for the first time, and Al Joniec drove his Rice-Holman Ford-backed entries to that event’s Super Stock title. Now, just more than four decades later, Ford is hoping that history will repeat itself with the debut of its second-generation Cobra Jet at the 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals. This new entry, which is designated as FR500CJ, is a complete factory racing package that combines Ford’s modern-day racing technology with the car manufacturer’s rich muscle-car heritage.

Only 50 of these very special vehicles have been produced, and they have already all been sold or accounted for. The 2008 Cobra Jets were produced with white paint only and no radio or heater, and among their unique features are a  5.4L (330-cid)  DOHC engine equipped with a factory supercharger rated at 425 horsepower, an aluminum hood with factory hood pins and the cold-air package hood scoop,  trunk-mounted battery, line-loc, five-point safety harness, fuel-shutoff switch, custom reinforced Ford nine-inch-type rear end with aftermarket axles and spool, along with Cobra Jet unique Bogart aluminum wheels and nine-inch racing slicks, and other related items. The body and major sub-assemblies such as the dash are produced on the Mustang assembly line in Flat Rock, Mich. Body modifications and final assembly take place in Livonia, Mich., at a Roush Industries facility.

Brian Wolfe, Ford Motor Co. North America motorsports director, said, “We wanted to support Sportsman racers who have been clamoring for a late-model Ford that could be competitive and was cost-effective. These are some of our most loyal customers and help us sell new cars and trucks to their social circles. Developing a turnkey drag car to meet the racers’ demands is the first step to show our supporters and the rest of the world that we’re dedicated to Sportsman racers who campaign Fords.”

Of the initial production run of only 50 units, Wolfe said, “We want to be in this for the long haul. While demand is much higher, by offering only 50, it leaves the door open for future model years. That being said, racers can build their own Cobra Jet from any 2005-2009 Mustang with parts from the Ford Performance Parts catalog. We have assigned a part number for a body in white specific for drag racers, M-607100-CJ. We have not yet determined the pricing and what the Cobra Jet content, like the installation of a roll cage or the removal of such street-related items as the wiper bucket, will entail. This will be sorted out by spring.”

The first four new Cobra Jets, all of which are owned by noted car collector Brent Hajek, will be raced at the Winternationals in Stock: two automatic cars campaigned by JIm Waldo and Gary Stinnett and two stick-shift versions run by John Calvert and Jimmy Ronzello. In keeping with Ford’s intentions of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Cobra Jets, the cars will feature the lettering of four 1960s-era driver/car dealership combos: Joniec/Rice-Holman Ford; Ronda/Russ Davis Ford; Hubert Platt/Paul Harvey Ford; and Hot Rod magazine/Performance Associates (the Ford high-performance shop run by the late Ford racer Les Ritchey and currently operated by his son, Randy).

Calvert, who has raced Fords since 1974 and has owned one of the production Cobra Jets throughout this period, said, “I first got involved with this when I received calls from Hajek and Phil Mandella (who helped perform the final prep work on the two stick-shift cars). When you run a brand-new car from the factory that includes all of these racing modifications, it’s always exciting. To be included in the debut efforts of this program is pretty special.” Calvert, who has earned a reputation as one of the top rear-suspension experts in the Stock ranks throughout the years, will focus on applying the power from the potent supercharged engine to the track with the nine-inch tire limitation. Said Calvert, “The engine, with the overhead cams, supercharger, and all the new electronics, is somewhat foreign to me. I’ll let Randy Ritchey take care of that while I work on what I’m more familiar with.”

Said Ritchey, “This project is a dream come true for me. My father was assigned by Ford to do all the final pre-Winternationals tune-up work on the Ford factory team cars, ranging from the 390-cid and 406-cid Galaxies in the early 1960s to the SOHC 427 Mustang A/FX cars in 1965. We haven’t had many factory racing packages like that since then, and this should make for a very exciting Winternationals.”

Wolfe said, “There are a number of reasons why this is significant. Ford has not been involved in Sportsman racing for quite a few years, but now we’re going to be paying $1,000 in contingency earnings for anyone who wins an NHRA national event title in a Sportsman category, from Comp through Super Street. The new Cobra Jet is hopefully just the beginning of other similar projects to come in the future. We hope to offer a 2010 MY Cobra Jet, and details about that car should be available either late in the spring or the early summer.”


Comments are closed.

For event information or tickets please call 972-878-2641
or 1-800-MOTORPLEX (1-800-668-6775)