1970 Ford Mustang Sportsroof Drag Pack Ready
Super Cobra Jet And 4:30 Gears In A Plain White Wrapper
Even in a Carlisle show field packed with 2,400 Mustangs and Fords, John Touthoushian's '70 Mustang SportsRoof stood out in the crowd. Stark vanilla white with Ford "corporate" hubcaps and white sidewall tires, the fastback had the look of a plain-Jane muscle car in the midst of brightly colored Mach 1s and Bosses. The Shaker scoop poking through the hood told us that this was more than a six-banger with slats and a spoiler.
When the 428 Cobra Jet Registry website post led John to an eBay listing for a white '70 CJ fastback, he was attracted to the car's plain appearance. But what really tripped his trigger was the Drag Pack option with 4.30 gears in a Detroit Locker differential. "I have a special interest in 4.30-gear cars," John told us, "because most people ordered them to drag race."
That's what the original purchaser, Jimmy Jones, had in mind for the fastback when he ordered it in January 1970. According to the window sticker, Jones checked off the R-code 428 Cobra Jet, four-speed, Drag Pack with 4.30 gears and Detroit Locker differential, and F70 x 14 white sidewall tires-undoubtedly he planned to add slicks and front skinnies so why pay extra for Polyglas Goodyears? Interestingly, Jones avoided the added weight of power steering and power brakes but ordered the rear spoiler and sport slats. Total cost for a ready-made drag racer: $4,018.
Bob Brisbois, a previous owner, had already tracked down Jimmy Jones to learn more about the car's history. A champion at several Northeast dragstrips, Jones had been racing Fords since 1957 in everything from Fairlanes to Thunderbolts. When his '681/2 Shelby GT500KR was stolen, he ordered the white SCJ Mustang fastback from his employer, Bloomfield Ford in Mount Clair, New Jersey. He took delivery on a Friday and was racing that night, beating a '67 GTO to take the $1,000 prize.
With modifications that provided 410hp at the rear wheels, Jones and his Mustang raced every weekend at tracks like Englishtown, Island Dragway, and Yorktown. He established a miles-per-hour record of 115.32 at Yorktown and later set the Englishtown ET mark at 11.91, then 11.79. When Brisbois asked about his sweetest victory, Jones replied, "On the street against a Camaro for $10,000."
With a growing family and increased responsibilities at work, Jones sold the Mustang in 1973 after 300 races. He claimed to have lost only three.
Today, with 70,000 miles on the odometer, John describes the condition as "a freshened up survivor." He bought the SCJ fastback about two years ago from that eBay listing, which turned out to be a Ford dealer in Illinois. The car had been passed around among collectors for several years, selling at one time at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. For the first year of ownership, John performed basic cleaning and repainted the body in fresh Wimbledon White. Someone had replaced the 4.30 gears with highway-friendly 3.50s; John quickly recovered the car's drag-race characteristics by swapping in set of 4.30s. It's got the original carpet, seats, front drum brakes, and other items, but the original R-code engine was replaced many years ago, perhaps by Jones during the car's active drag racing days. A date-correct SCJ sits between the fenders today.
John's white SCJ Drag Pack SportsRoof made its first major show appearance at the Carlisle Ford Nationals in June, where it took the Mustang Monthly "Celebrity Choice" award for its combination of plain-Jane looks and drag-race demeanor.
Factory Drag Pack
By 1969, Ford was ramping up Mustang performance with engines like the 428 Cobra Jet big-block and options like the 3.91 and 4.30 gear ratios for quicker off-the-line acceleration. In testing, Ford engineers discovered that the higher rpm at highway speeds resulted in dangerously high engine oil temperatures, so the decision was made to add an oil cooler to Cobra Jets equipped with 3.91 and 4.30 gearing. The cooler mounted in front of the radiator core support on the driver's side, forcing relocation of the driver's side horn to the other side and adjacent to the passenger side horn. A special oil filter adaptor routed oil through the cooler and back to the engine.
There were also concerns about 428 CJ durability during severe racing conditions. To address that situation on cars with 3.91 or 4.30 gears, Ford engine engineers beefed up the reciprocating assembly (crank, pistons, rods, along with rebalanced flywheel/flexplate and harmonic balancer). For example, the rods were "427 LeMans" versions with cap screws instead of the standard CJ's press-fit bolt and nut. These engines, either Q-code or Shaker-scooped R-code, became known as Super Cobra Jets.
Ford's marketing department, under the gun to create a more youthful image, came up with a unique name for the optional "high ratio" axle package with oil cooler: Drag Pack.
According to Ford literature dated April 17, 1969, the $155.45 Drag Pack option for 1969 included 3.91 or 4.30 gears in a Traction-Lok differential and special engine modifications, including the oil cooler. In a 1970 "Armchair Estimator" option list dated December 19, 1969, the description was revised to Traction-Lok for the 3.91 ($155) or Detroit Locker No-Spin for the 4.30 ($207).
Confusion reigns when it comes to the Drag Pack for other performance Mustangs. An Armchair Estimator from September 23, 1969, states that the Drag Pack was "not available with Boss 302, optional only with 428." However, some Boss 302s with the optional 3.91 or 4.30 gears came with the oil cooler, although it was not listed as a Drag Pack option on the invoices. Interestingly, a Drag Pack option was available for Boss 302 Cougar Eliminators. For Boss 429s, the Drag Pack is listed on some invoices, as they came with 3.91 Traction-Lok gears and oil cooler.