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The Best Mustang You Could Buy in 1971
The Really Big One: Scott Skalitzky’s 1971 429 Super Cobra Jet Mach 1 is already a Trailered Gold winner, but its sights are set on a Thoroughbred award
With the hood open, we couldn’t find an oil cooler on Scott Skalitzky’s 1971 Mach 1. Was this 429 Cobra Jet a Super? Skalitzky says, “You could buy an oil cooler over the counter for a ’71.”
But Skalitzky’s car was indeed a factory Super Cobra Jet. An oil cooler was not part of the Mustang’s 1971 Drag Pack package, which elevated a CJ to an SCJ. We had already noticed the ram air and that the fifth character of the VIN is J. All J-codes are 429 Cobra Jets with ram air. None of the C-codes in 1971 were ram air cars, but either J or C could have the Drag Pack. You following us?
The more we got into this Mach 1, the more our jaws dropped. Skalitzky had been collecting parts for over 30 years—since the 1980s when he could buy parts from his local Ford dealer—for a 1971 Cobra Jet build. “It has been my goal my whole life to build one of those cars,” says Skalitzky. He almost acquiesced to spend his NOS parts stash on a 429 CJ, itself a rare beast, until four years ago when he got lucky and came across this SCJ. This ultrarare Wimbledon White muscle Mustang kicked off Skalitzky’s dream build.
What parts had he gathered? Skalitzky did not know where to begin, but his recollections included a certain affinity for the capital letters N.O.S. “Like N.O.S. exhausts, N.O.S. Goodyear Polyglas tires, all the way down to the air filter is N.O.S. N.O.S. ram air ducts, N.O.S. plenum for ram air, all the suspension, N.O.S. upper control arms, N.O.S. lower control arms, N.O.S. strut rods, N.O.S. saddle perches. Literally anything I could get my hands on.”
Skalitzky certainly had the tools to do a concours restoration; his business is Custom RV Services in De Forest, Wisconsin, where he repairs motorhomes, trailers, and campers. This work includes paint and body work. Cars, although a hobby, have become “almost like a second job” he tells us. That job got very ambitious with the full restoration on this 1971. Skalitzky created what he feels is an art form in his quest to make this 1971 Mach 1, in his words, “as nice as you can make it.”
A 1971 SCJ mandated either a 3.91 or a 4.11 rear axle, and Skalitzky got really charged up when he read the Certification Label and spied a Y-code for the axle ratio. “That’s the 4.11 Detroit Locker. Then, it’s got the four-speed transmission, a Top Loader, of course, with a Hurst shifter, and the big input and the big output, same as on a Boss 429.”
In a Mustang, the 429 SCJ with a four-speed and a 4.11 Detroit Locker was as hot as it got for 1971. The 1971 SCJ’s main hierarchy of respect is the lack of magazine tests when the car was new. “But it’s faster in the quarter-mile than a Boss 351 or even a Boss 429,” says Skalitzky, who researched it.
His long-term goal, however, is not drag racing. Last year in Savannah, Georgia, he won Concours Trailered Gold in Mustang Club of America judging. One of these days he plans to complete his list of N.O.S. parts to include the all-important N.O.S. battery and several other N.O.S. parts and be the first owner of a 1971 Mustang to win the prestigious Authentication award in MCA’s Thoroughbred class.