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Finding a Rare 1969 Ford Drag Team Fairlane Cobra—and Race Memorabilia to Boot!
Bob Perkins first heard about Ford's 1969 Drag Team Fairlane Cobra, driven by Dick Wood for Ford's West Coast team, 27 years ago. Perkins explains, "In 1989, Rick Radke was out in California buying a big literature collection. He went to Mark Hefty's shop, and Mark had the big Cobra sign, dated 1964, that hung over the Shelby-American plant."
Radke lives near Perkins in Wisconsin. Radke wanted to know if Perkins wanted to "go halves" to buy the Cobra sign. He didn't hesitate. Yes, this was the sign that actually hung over the historic Shelby-American plant in the 1960s.
Perkins eventually bought out Radke's half of the sign, which he kept until recently, when he traded the sign to his friend, Richard Ellis. "Ellis has the most famous 427 Cobra there is," says Perkins. "It's the only Comp Cobra they made in 1965. I'm thinking, I've got the sign that hung over the Shelby plant. That sign needs to be hanging over Ellis' Cobra in his showroom."
Ellis had something Perkins wanted. Through his own collector dealings, Ellis had come up with the same Ford Drag Team 1969 Fairlane Cobra that Radke saw in Hefty's shop a quarter of a century earlier.
The Fairlane Cobra was apart for a restoration, but rust free. Incredibly, Perkins traded the sign he and Radke bought from Mark Hefty for the same historic Fairlane that Radke saw in Hefty's shop, and which Hefty owned, in 1989.
Perkins had a restoration job ahead of him, but that's OK. He owns his own business restoring Mustangs, particularly of the Boss persuasion. Of course, he also likes other Ford muscle cars.
Perkins didn't stop with the acquisition of the car. He took a trip to California to meet with the family of Richard Wood, now deceased. There, he got numerous items of memorabilia to enhance the enjoyment and history of this very famous Fairlane (which is not a Torino).
The Ford Drag Team consisted of six cars: three on the West Coast team (drivers Dick Wood and Ed Terry) and three on the East Coast team (drivers Hubert Platt and Randy Payne).
There were two Mustangs on each team, a Super Cobra Jet and a Cammer. And then each team had a Ford Fairlane Cobra, powered by 428 Super Cobra Jets.
What Perkins really liked about the Fairlane was the Ford Drag Team lettering on the side, which leaves no doubt to the factory heritage. Yes, other Fords had sponsorship and a factory lineage, such as the famous "dollar" drag cars. However, did Ford intend for the dollar price to transfer both ownership and liability to the team operating outside Ford?
In contrast, the four Mustangs and two Fairlanes were the Ford Drag Team. There was no external team. The factory was the team, with racing and other activities administered by "Car Corporation" directly for Ford Motor Company.