DEARBORN - Production orders of the 50th Anniversary Cobra Jet Mustang are well underway, with several orders already delivered to customers, fully ready to be raced.
After the unveil of the 50th anniversary Cobra Jet at the 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise, excited anticipation surrounded the car’s eventual launch. The initial development of the now fully functional cars had been completed, but there was additional, arguably more crucial work to be completed before product deliveries could begin.
“Development of the car took place over the course of just under a year, which is pretty good for us,” said Dave Born, Engineering Manager, Ford Performance. “The new CJ was then optimized from powertrain to chassis and beyond, with all the learnings organized and documented in the owners’ manuals that will accompany the vehicles.”
Beyond tuning, the Ford Performance team didn’t have a lot of changes to make to the cars. The development work was solid. What made up the bulk of their efforts was going through the rigorous verification process required for a vehicle of this nature.
Time was spent working with the sanctioning bodies governing the classes that the car was designed to compete in. Negotiations covered all aspects of the car before everything was agreed to and certified. Once that was complete, the car itself needed to be verified through durability testing to ensure that it would match customer expectations and needs.
“We want it to be reliable and we want it to be consistent,” explained Born. “Most of these cars will be competing in bracket racing, which is all about consistency. We feel that we’ve given them a really great car for that. Consistent, reliable, durable.”
So far, the car is proving to be just that – great. It already has a win under its belt, and now deliveries are beginning in earnest. A couple of seasoned CJ racers were actually so anxious to receive their new cars that they travelled across the country to Watson Racing’s shop, where the cars are built, to pick theirs up.
Gary Coe, a longtime Ford enthusiast and racer known for multiple projects of his own, including the ’57 ‘Gunfighter’ Custom that gained quite a fan following, drove all the way from the Pacific Northwest to pick up two cars. One, chassis 018, is for his friend Larry McLanahan. The other, 006, is his own, and it coincidentally matches the chassis number of the ’13 CJ he currently campaigns.
“I raced from 1964 to 1979,” said Coe. “At the end of that ‘79 season, I sold everything, and concentrated on business for 30 years. Then in 2010, I happened to be at the US Nationals as a spectator, and there was a 67 Mustang for sale. I made the guy an offer and ended up owning it, bringing me back to the racing passion I had put on the sidelines.”
Coe learned about the Cobra Jet platform, and found it very intriguing.
“I put my name on the list for a 2012, but I was 74th on a 50-car list, and didn’t make the cut. They left me on the list though, and when the ‘13s came out, I got a call from the dealer asking if I was still interested. 250 runs later, I guess you could say I still am, yes. What it would take for us to build this car ourselves, do all the testing, and get to the point where we are now… I think we’d spend well over the cost of one of these to get there. To be able to rely on Ford itself for this kind of development support, I think it’s outstanding.”
There’s not much in the way of downtime in the works for Coe’s new CJ, either. He picked up his car on Monday, April 22, with plans to test the car by the following Saturday and be racing with it right around two weeks out. He’s a racer to the core, and believes the cars represent the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra that the Cobra Jet’s original creator, Bob Tasca I, coined.
“People love these cars,” said Coe. “Lots of spectators ask questions about the cars, and we’re happy to talk to them about it. Hopefully they go out and pick up their own Mustang the next day.”