End Of The Road

Mustang Monthly|Noovember 2019

End Of The Road
This 1971 Mustang SportsRoof equipped with the Cobra Jet 429 shows that the big-block era went out with a bang.
Richard Truesdell

The year 1968 pitted factory-sponsored drag teams against each other, encouraging them to pull out all the stops to gain the advantage. For Ford, the 428ci Cobra Jet Mustang made its competitive debut at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. In its first race, Al Joniec drove his Rice-Holman–prepared entry to an unexpected win among the four Cobra Jet entrants over Dave Wren’s Max Wedge–powered Plymouth in the final round. Joniec posted an 11.49 best at over 120 mph in the SS/E class. While impressive 50 years ago, there are Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers that you can drive off the showroom floor today, on street tires, that would put Joniec’s Mustang right back on the trailer. We live in wonderful times today— don’t we?

Ford originally planned to run its tried-and-true 427, an expensive engine to build. But plans changed to use the 428 engine first developed by Bob Tasca, one of Ford’s most prominent high-performance dealers. Concurrent with the introduction of the Cobra Jet in competition, in April 1968 it became the top-dog performance street option on Mustangs, Cougars, and Ford’s intermediates.

The Cobra Jet was offered in 429ci big-block form through 1971, just as federal emission standards and the insurance industry brought the hammer down on the muscle car era. In 1972 the Cobra Jet brand was applied to the 351ci option, relegating the big-block V-8s to Mustang history. That’s what makes this car, a 1971 Mustang Cobra Jet, extra special; it’s rare in that it is a base-model SportsRoof instead of the Mach 1.

We started working on the story of this car over a year ago when we saw it on display. It was up for sale at Crevier Classic Cars in Costa Mesa, California. Alerted about the car by Crevier’s sales manager, Frank Chirat, who owns a Shelby Cobra G.T. 500 himself, we used the opportunity to get the car photographed and documented, just in case the car got sold. And that’s exactly what happened when Carl and Grant Amor bought the car in October 2018 when they were visiting Southern California from Australia. And as of the time we’re writing this, it is being unloaded in Australia and is making its way through customs.

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Noovember 2019