Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
November 3, 2015
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

For over 40 years, Ford Mustangs have been a dominant force on dragstrips worldwide. In 2008, Ford Performance revitalized the “Cobra Jet,” which originally debuted in 1968, winning the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. The 2008 CJ won at the 2009 NHRA Winternations and over the past eight years, Ford Performance Cobra Jets have proven victorious in NHRA, IHRA, NMCA and NMRA competition—and today, Ford reveals the 2016 Cobra Jet at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Show) in Las Vegas.

“We are committed to supporting sportsman drag racing, and in NHRA Stock, that means delivering a Cobra Jet the teams can be competitive with from the factory,” said Jesse Kershaw, manager drag racing parts and competition. “Beyond that it needs to provide the platform for racers to take its performance to the next level.” Like the CJ Mustangs that came before it, the 2016 Cobra Jet, is a factory-built, turnkey racer that’s legal right out of the box for NHRA-Stock and Super Stock drag racing. Cobra Jets also fit in various IHRA, NMRA, and NMCA classes, and we’ve seen them modified with bigger blowers and turbos for 7-second performance. Modern CJ’s have been a favorite with Ford racers and collectors, as there have been just 50 built for each model year. Ford will also build 50 2016 Cobra Jets and colors include Oxford White or Deep Impact Blue (up to 25 examples of each color), with options including the popular “Cobra” graphics and a wheelie bar.

“The modern Cobra Jet has performed for our customers and has put Ford in the winner’s circle consistently since 2008,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance. “The 2016 car is the only factory 2016 Mustang with a solid axle rear suspension, and the first Cobra Jet built off the all-new Mustang introduced in 2015. We are excited to see it compete.”

Powering the 2016 Cobra Jet is a boosted 5.0 Coyote engine featuring a front inlet Whipple supercharger. As with the 2013 and 2014 models, the 2016 will be capable of 8-second quarter mile times as delivered. “It was important to use production hardware wherever possible in the engine to ensure parts are readily available and reasonably priced for racers,” explained Kershaw. “The production parts are also incredibly durable in passing our rigorous dyno and dragstrip testing.

“We developed the engine at the Ford Essex plant that builds the Coyote engines for Mustang, and durability was critical to our program objectives. We program the dyno cell to replicate a quarter-mile run exactly, including the burnout and staging, and [we] make over 100 virtual passes plus teardown for inspection before the engine ever goes into the car for on track testing. Then we make another 100 [runs] in the car with the same engine and tear down again to verify. The Cobra Jet is not just built, it’s engineered, which means validation and testing that ensures reliable and repeatable performance,” added Kershaw.

Of course not all the parts on an 8-second Mustang can come from the parts bin, so the engineers utilized components from ATI, Aeromotive, Whipple Superchargers and many others. Amazingly, Kershaw told us 75-percent of the engine content is common with the 5.0 Coyote Mustang GT engine. “Beyond that the rods, pistons, and oil pump, the engine is identical to what’s used in all our boost-friendly Aluminator crate engines,” he stated. Utilizing the wealth of technology that is available, Ford Performance engineer’s adapted items such as the electric water pump from the C-Max Hybrid, rather than using a belt-driven system. This allows water to be circulated and thus, it allows cool-down without the engine running. This gives racers the ability to control engine temperature and this helps consistency. “The electric water pump is something we’ve held off on in the past because we were concerned with durability. For the 2016 Cobra Jet we were able to find an off-the-shelf solution with a pump from the C-Max hybrid. Not only is it able to cool the car back down to ambient within 15 minutes between runs it has been durability tested on a production street car.”

In addition to the powerful and durable powertrain, the new CJ comes equipped with a new four-link solid-axle rear suspension designed for hard launches, plus Weld Racing wheels and Hoosier tires. It also sports drag-race-specific coilover shocks and springs and you’ll find lightweight Strange Racing brakes, 8.50-certified roll cage, an Aeromotive fuel system with trunk mounted fuel cell, Corbeau FIA seats, 5-point race harnesses, and a race-prepped automatic transmission.

In fact, Kershaw reported that 75-percent of the engine components are sourced directly from the factory parts shelf. And this is done without sacrificing durability, efficient, or performance. “Additional performance parts for the Cobra Jet can be found in the Ford Performance Parts catalog,” he added.

All 50 Ford Performance Cobra Jet Mustangs will begin life at the Flat Rock assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan and the line has already started rolling with the special edition race Mustangs. The first Coba Jets will be delivered early in 2016. As many of you know, Cobra Jet Mustangs are sold without a VIN and are legal for track use only. “Customers can order a Cobra Jet by submitting a placeholder order for part number M-FR500-CJ through any North American Ford dealer,” said Kershaw. And MSRP for the base car is $99,990 with optional graphics costing $1,995 and a wheelie bar adding another $1,995.

Download Cobra Jet Paper Model and Specs