Life-Saving 1969 Cobra Jet Drag Pack
Jim Roach’s ’69 Drag Pack hardtop saved his life—now what to do with it?
“I got a call one day about a 1969 Super Cobra Jet (Drag Pack) coupe,” Rick Parker tells us. Rick and his wife, Jacquie, own Signature Auto Classics in Columbus, Ohio. More than a restorer, Rick collects Mustangs and Fords, so he was very excited to hear about such a rare Mustang—just nine Drag Pack hardtops were built, of which four were automatics like this car.
“His question to me,” Rick says, “was should we auction it as a race car or redo it? So we picked a date to drive down to southern Ohio to look at the car.”
Apparently, this hardtop was a drag car from day one, or it had very little street use, which explained the 1,406 miles on the odometer. Showing the car to Rick, owner Jim Roach got very emotional, saying, “I got teary-eyed. I told Rick this car saved my life. I was an alcoholic, and when I quit drinking, cold turkey, I went and bought that car.” He recalls the exact date: April 5, 1988. Jim wanted to go drag racing and frequented a 100-yard track in West Virginia, for starters.
“Then, we started to run it in C/Stock/Automatic. We ran Indianapolis for points and National Trail in Columbus, Ohio, among others.” After getting divorced and going through custody battles, Jim says, “I wanted to drink my sorrow away, but it was there the next morning.” Quitting drinking was very hard, but the car helped get him through the tough times. “I just bought the car and thought, this is something that will keep my mind occupied; race it and not drink.”
The plan worked, and after 31 years had passed, Jim was thinking about selling the car. But since this car literally saved him from dying, he says, “I owe it to this car to bring it back to its beauty,” so a sale wasn’t a sure thing. He just wanted an expert opinion on what to do with the car. But, how should the car be restored—as a race car or as a street car as it was delivered from Dearborn Assembly? Like many of us, Rick likes old race cars and thought this car looked cool, from the vintage race car decals and lettering to its old rollbar and the two-tone paint scheme of black and a shade of Chrysler raspberry.
Rick’s advice, since Jim asked, was to restore the car. He had good reasons for the opinion, but the final decision, of course, was up to Jim. Rick says, “I told them they would probably have more success redoing the car than reselling it [as is].” The car was rust-free, which would facilitate a restoration. Yes, the race history would be gone, but the ’69 had never been a famous race car. Had it once been drag raced by the likes of a Hubert Platt or Gas Ronda, then preserving that heritage would certainly be more of a consideration for a future sale.
However, as Jim looks forward to the restoration, he has been leaning less toward selling the Mustang. This time around instead of drag racing, he’ll show the car.
Photography by Jerry Heasley