Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1968-1/2 Ford Mustang - Cobra Jet Quest
A trip to an NHRA race led Bob Smith on a Cobra Jet Quest
We hear stories all of the time about how enthusiasts saw a particular car that inspired them when they were little. Whether it was a new Mustang right off the transporter or some street machine with a 3/4 race cam and open headers, we all remember those rides, and oftentimes they lived down the street or tore up the local track. Longmont, Colorado's Bob Smith grew up hearing about his dad's '68 GT500KR, and naturally, he wanted a hot ride of his own to tear up the streets with once he was old enough to drive.
"I bought my first '68 Mustang when I was 15," recalls Bob. "Like most teens, I wrecked it three months after I got my license. That sucked bad!" That same summer, Bob and his dad went to the NHRA Mile-High Nationals and Bob fell in love with the '68-1/2 Cobra Jets of John Calvert and John Dusenberry.
"Both cars were four-speeds, and watching those cars leap from the line after dumping the clutch was awesome," says Bob. "From that moment on, it was nothing but '68 Cobra Jet fastbacks for me!"
Bob was 19 years old when he purchased his first '68-1/2 Cobra Jet Mustang, and was thrilled until he started to fix some of it's issues.
"I realized that it had been wrecked bad in the front and back," recalls Bob. "That really turned me off toward the car, so I sold it. Sixty-eight and a half Number 2 was an old Super Stock Cobra Jet that was a monster. My biggest issue with that car was that it had been tubbed in the late '70s and hadn't been upgraded in technology. I took it to a local chassis shop to update the chassis, but what I got was far from what I was after. Bye, bye, car Number 2."
While all of that was going on, Bob started tinkering with 5.0L Fox-body Mustangs and in early 1996, he bought a '95 Cobra R. It only had nine miles on the clock, and as Bob put it, "That was an awesome car and even more so after I added nitrous to it."
The late-model cars served their purpose while Bob continued to "build what I thought was the meanest Cobra Jet that I could envision-I always wanted to build the ultimate CJ." He eventually found the right car on the Internet in October 2001. Bob talked with the owner and a deal was struck-Bob would trade the Cobra R for the freshly restored '68-1/2.
Cobra Jet Number 3 turned out to be the winner, before it even hit the track. The car was a rust- and accident-free restored car. The white exterior was complemented with the black hood and side C stripe. The previous owner had pulled the 351C that was in it after procuring a date-correct 428, but that didn't last for long.
"I immediately sold the drivetrain out of it," notes Bob. "I still get a lot of crap for that." Bob then dropped the roller off at Mike Lupfer's chassis shop, where 3 inches were added to the rear wheelwells by mini-tubbing the back end-Bob says that they still look like factory wheeltubs from the trunk. The car still has the factory framerails, but they have been notched for the wheeltubs and larger tires. Next, Lupfers fabricated a four-link coilover rear suspension, through-the-floor subframe connectors, and the 12-point chrome-moly rollcage that fits the car like a glove.
The first form of motivation for this Wimbledon White rocket came from a 440ci FE engine that used a CJ block and crank. It produced a healthy 688 hp on the engine dynamometer, and Bob backed it with a Jerico DR-4 manual transmission for effortless shifting, and a Mark Williams 9-inch rearend to take the punishment-the 35-spline axles twist the MW spool without flinching. Unfortunately, the 440 kicked a couple of rods out during a pass, and was subsequently replaced with what might be the baddest FE engine that Bob could dream of.