2008 Cobra Jet Mustang - Snakes On A Reign
After 40 Years, Ford's Venomous 'Stang Returns To Rule The 1,320-And We Drive It
From the May, 2009 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By KJ Jones
Photography by KJ Jones, Paul Rosner
Disregard the John Force and...
Disregard the John Force and Mike Neff ID decals on the door. That's NHRA Pro Stock and Ford drag-racing legend Bob Glidden taking off from the starting line in the all-new '08 Cobra Jet drag Mustang. Bob and his just-as-famous son Billy were on hand to run a pair of Cobra Jets in a best-of-three match race/side attraction of the PSCA's Street Car Super Nationals IV event held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last November.
Horse Sense: As it did in 1968, Ford produced a first-year run of only 50 '08 Cobra Jet Mustangs. Several of these race Ponies were purchased by Brent Hajek, who also owns an original Tasca Ford 428-powered drag 'Stang. Brent vowed that the supercharged Super Stockers were not purchased to sit in storage or on display at car shows. Proving the point in February, Brent entered four of his new Cobra Jets in the NHRA Winternationals, 40 years after Al Joniac took an original Cobra Jet to the winner's circle in Super Stock eliminator at the same race.
Each year we hear about or see new 'Stangs that are built specifically for drag-race competition. Of course, the horsepower and level of technical sophistication for these race cars vary with respect to the class they're built to compete in. However, one thing that is common among all of the drag Ponies we encounter each racing season is that a huge amount of enthusiast blood, sweat, tears, money, and time has been spent producing these bad-to-the-bone, wickedly fast Mustangs.
Building a race Mustang for any racing discipline is an endeavor that is accomplished by acquiring necessary parts and constructing the car, either yourself, with the help of friends (as your tech editor did with Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive on Project T-top coupe), or by commissioning a shop or race-car builder to make it happen (as we've done with Project Boss 340, which is being assembled by A.R.E. Performance and Machine of Simi Valley, California).
Needless to say, that brief drive was an absolute tease as the growl of Cobra Jet's 425 supercharged horsepower had me ready to do a lot more than just putter up to the parking space at barely 6 mph. (Before you Melvins reading this get too worked up, understand that the 425 is the NHRA's factored horsepower rating for the new cars, which at a weight of 3,300 pounds, should put the cars in the "AA" classes of Stock and Super Stock eliminator. Fully opened up, CJs are capable of making more than 600 flywheel horsepower.)
For the last few years, Ford has made tremendous inroads in supporting "grassroots" racers, creating the FR500 Series (S, C, and GT) of full-tilt turnkey race S197 Mustangs and making them available through the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog and Ford dealerships nationwide for those enthusiasts who have the funds to buy the factory-built racers.
Without sounding too clich, it's amazing how history has a way of repeating itself. Forty years ago in 1968, Ford introduced 50 unique, now legendary drag cars called Cobra Jets-lightweight fastback 'Stangs packing 428ci engines, Top Loader four-speed transmissions, and enough hard-core race trickery to make the CJ Mustang an instant winner in Super Stock eliminator at NHRA national events.
The new Cobra Jet 'Stang's...
The new Cobra Jet 'Stang's really are "no frills" on the inside. The cockpit treatments include basic cloth seats and carpet that are upgraded with slick Cobra Jet embroidery; a full, eight-point rollbar; a 5-inch, pedestal-mount, shift-light tachometer; Ford Racing oil, temp, and volt gauges; a Hurst short-throw six-speed shifter; line-lock; and radio-delete plate.
Fast-forward to the present, and Ford Racing now has a new addition to its FR lineup of race Mustangs, this one being the '08 Ford Racing Cobra Jet (FR500CJ). While the FR500S, FR500C, and FR500GT 'Stangs are all geared toward the road-racing sector, the new FR500CJ is a factory-produced, supercharged 5.4-liter race Mustang that's all about covering the quarter-mile and chasing NHRA Stock and Super Stock glory-nothing more, nothing less. Similar to the method in which its '68 namesake could be purchased, today's version of the Cobra Jet is available through any Ford dealership's parts department-literally-to anyone who can cover its $69,900 price tag.
We had the great fortune of interacting with Ford's born-again drag Mustang shortly after the new Cobra Jet was introduced at the '08 SEMA show. Even though the 'Stangs probably don't have class opportunities in NMRA other than Super 'Stang, Modular Muscle, Open Comp, or the bracket categories, there's no doubt that the CJ is a bad-ass hot rod, one we're pretty certain will quickly achieve the same glory that its namesake did when it ruled the Super Stock ranks in the late '60s.
KJ And The JetsSeeing an '08 Ford Racing Cobra Jet Mustang from afar is one thing, but last November I had the opportunity to experience the car up close and personal on two separate occasions.
My first encounter with a CJ came when I was asked to transport one from John Force Racing's headquarters in Yorba Linda, California, to the Pomona Fairplex for the NHRA Powerade World Finals. We loaded the 'Stang into our enclosed trailer and trucked it over to the track, where I drove it through the pits and then parked it at Motorcraft's display in Nitro Alley (the manfuacturers' midway).
Based on a six-cylinder Mustang...
Based on a six-cylinder Mustang platform, the Cobra Jet only has a few unique exterior features. Among the standouts are louvered Sliverhorse Racing quarter-windows, a Cobra Jet hoodscoop, 15x4 front and 15x10 rear Cobra Jet wheels, and not much else. Underneath the body, however, the drag 'Stangs are equipped with Ford Racing's 9-inch rear-axle assembly, a one-piece driveshaft and driveshaft loop, Cobra Jet rear control arms and anti-roll bar, and adjustable shocks with drag-race springs.
The Cobra Jets made their public on-track debut at the World Finals, when Funny Car drivers John Force and Bob Tasca III held a one-round shootout just before final rounds. Both drivers ran side-by-side high-10.80s at 128 mph in cars they had never driven before.
My second run-in with a Cobra Jet was a lot more personal, as I actually had a chance to take over the controls and make a pass in one at the PSCA Street Car Super Nationals IV. Everything about the experience was awesome, from setting the line-lock and doing a tire-roasting burnout to dumping the clutch and taking off down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, banging the gears of the six-speed tranny like a man possessed. (Unfortunately, Ford's engineers handcuffed guest drivers with a disappointingly low 5,000-rpm rev limit, which I discovered when shifting from Third to Fourth gears.)
When it was over, I picked up my time slip and learned that I had jockeyed the Cobra Jet 'Stang to an 11.01 e.t. at 126 mph. The performance is by no means earth shattering. However, when you consider the Vegas/Pomona altitude differences and my hitting the chip on the 3-to-4 gear change, it's cool to see that the Cobra Jet is a consistent race car, as it ran right on par with the Force/Tasca 10.80 passes at Pomona.
An in-car GoPro Motorsports HERO video camera captured my run in the Cobra Jet. Dial up www.50mustangandsuperfords.com to see and hear the thrill I experienced.
If this bullet seems familiar...
If this bullet seems familiar to you, it's probably because you've seen the same thing under the hood of '07-'09 Shelby GT500 'Stangs. Despite having a twin 62mm throttle body, 80-lb/hr fuel injectors, a 123mm mass air, American Racing Headers long-tubes, and an Innovators West SFI-approved, 10-percent-overdriven crankshaft damper, Ford engineers actually have dialed-back the TVS supercharged, 5.4-liter bullets in Cobra Jets in order to meet NHRA's strict horsepower-per-cubic-inch requirements, making the 'Stangs eligible for Stock and Super Stock, as well as other Lucas Oil Sportsman categories. Every '08 Cobra Jet is built with a serial number, but does not have a VIN, and therefore they are by no means street legal. The race 'Stangs get their start (bodies and sub-assemblies such as dash, assembled corners, and so on) in Flat Rock, Michigan, at the Auto Alliance International assembly plant, and then are sent to a Ford finishing facility in Livonia, Michigan, where additional parts are installed and the cars are final-prepped.
5.0 Tech SpecsEngine and DrivetrainBlockFord 5.4-liter ironBore90.2mmStroke106mmDisplacement5.4 litersCrankshaftForged eight-boltRodsForged I-beamPistonsForgedCompression Ratio8.5:1Camshaft10mm liftHeadsGT500IntakeAluminum w/air-to-liquid intercoolerThrottle BodyFord Racing 62.5mm twinMass AirFord Racing 123mmInjectors80 lbs/hourPowerAdder2.3-liter Eaton Twin Vortices superchargerIntercoolerAir-to-liquidFuel PumpGT500Headers1 7/8-inch long-tubeExhaustTurn-downsTransmissionModified TR-6060 (six-speed) w/SFI scatterproof bellhousingConverterN/A RearendFord 9-inch with factory S197 mounting points. 4.11 gears, spool
With the Cobra Jet loaded...
With the Cobra Jet loaded and locked down inside the trailer, all I could do was smile about having one in my possession, even if it was only for a short time. Little did I know I would be behind the wheel and bombing down the dragstrip in a Cobra Jet just one week later.
ElectronicsEngine ManagementStockIgnitionStockGaugesCobra Jet 5-inch tach; Ford Racing oil pressure, water temp, oil temp
Our first up-close-and-personal...
Our first up-close-and-personal encounter with the '08 Mustang Cobra Jet came when we ventured over to John Force Racing (yes, the John Force) in Yorba Linda, California, and loaded one into our 28-foot enclosed trailer. While taking it home or even to the dyno would have been the ultimate, we delivered this Jet to the Pomona Fairplex, where it was displayed throughout the weekend at the NHRA World Finals.
Chassis And SuspensionFront SuspensionK-MemberStockControl armsGT500SpringsMustang GTStrutsFord Racing adjustableCaster/CamberN/A BrakesMustang V-6WheelsBogart 15x4.5 w/specific Ford Racing offsetTiresGoodyear 28x5-15 front runners
Here is the '08 Mustang Cobra...
Here is the '08 Mustang Cobra Jet without graphics. Similar to the '68 Cobra Jet, the new cars don't have air conditioning or a radio (an AM radio was Cobra Jet's only option in '68) and are only available in white. However, for those owners who want more excitement in their CJ's appearance, the Showcar Graphics Package is available at an extra cost.
Rear SuspensionSpringsMustang V-6 ShocksFord Racing adjustableControl armsFord Racing drag-race specificBrakesStockWheelsBogart 15x10 w/specific Ford Racing offsetTiresGoodyear 30x9-15 slicks
Early '08 Cobra Jet hype included...
Early '08 Cobra Jet hype included a photo session at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, in which John Calvert's original '68 Cobra Jet 'Stang (left) was paired with Ford's all-new legacy race 'Stang (right). The first 50 Ford-built '68s were actually inspired by Bob Tasca, whose Tasca Ford KR-8 Mustang conversion package-an upgrade that was developed for performance-minded customers-was highlighted by swapping a Pony's factory 390ci engine with a 428ci/four-speed drivetrain.
The Sum Of Its PartsHow bad-ass would it be to transform a stock GT, or even a V-6 Pony, into a strip-blazing supercharged race 'Stang? Well, if you've got the car, the gumption, and the finances to take on such a project, all you need to do is order these Cobra Jet parts, all of which are available for consumer purchase through the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog.
|M-6007-CJ ||Cobra Jet engine |
|M-9926-CJ ||Billet 62.5mm dual throttle body |
|M-19216-M54SC ||A/C delete pulley |
|M-6316-CJ ||SFI crankshaft damper |
|M-9603-CJ ||Cobra Jet cold-air kit |
|M-9340-CJ ||Cobra Jet off-road racing headers |
We spied this Shelby GT500 processor sitting in the front seat of the Cobra Jet during the photo shoot at Fontana. Attached to the PCM is a high-tech, high-dollar ($10,000) M5 calibration tool, which allows engineers to tune a CJ's engine on the fly, as opposed to the time-consuming process we're familiar with using many of the popular consumer tuning tools. Because the racing experience of the celebrity and media jockeys who were driving the cars varied widely, the two CJs that made the West Coast tour unfortunately had a 5,000-rpm rev ceiling, which is about 2,500-rpm lower than the actual rev limit for Cobra Jet's blown 5.4.
After driving the Cobra Jet,...
After driving the Cobra Jet, my signature joined those of other, far-more-famous Ford racers (John Force, the Gliddens, Gas Rhonda, Bob Tasca III, Mike Neff, and more) on the dashboard.
|DRIVETRAIN || |
|M-4001-CJ ||Cobra Jet 9-inch rearend |
|M-4602-CJ ||Cobra Jet driveshaft |
|M-5478-CJ ||Cobra Jet driveshaft loop |
|M-6392-CJ ||Cobra Jet bellhousing for six-speed |
|M-7003-CJ ||Complete six-speed manual with SFI bell |
Editor Turner may have been...
Editor Turner may have been FRPP's first customer for this 62.5mm, twin-bore throttle body and 123mm mass-air tube. Big Steve caught a glimpse of the killer induction combo during a walk-through of Ford's top secret research facility last year and vowed the induction package would be installed on Project Vapor Trail as soon as it became available.
|CHASSIS || |
|M-1007-CJF ||15x4 front Cobra Jet wheel |
|M-1007-CJR ||15x10 rear Cobra Jet wheel |
|M-18000-C ||Ford Racing adjustable damper kit |
|M-607100-CJ ||Cobra Jet painted body in white |
|M-7213-J ||Black shift knob and handle |
|M-5019-CJ ||Lightweight drag-race radiator support |
|M-5300-CJ ||Drag-race spring kit |
My chance to drive a Cobra...
My chance to drive a Cobra Jet came unexpectedly at the PSCA's Street Car Super Nationals IV event in Las Vegas. When Bob and Billy Glidden were unable to continue their match race due to their efforts to win the SCSN 10.5-inch Outlaw class (Billy won), Jesse Kershaw of Ford Racing asked if I would like to fill in for Billy and take the all-white CJ down the track against Jim D'Amore and the Cobra Jet with graphics. Did you think I would say no?!
|APPEARANCE AND INTERIOR |
|M-6360004-CJ ||Cobra Jet seat covers |
|M-16700-B ||Hoodpin kit, two-piece |
|M-91303-A ||Passenger airbag-delete cover |
|M-17782-CJ ||Mirror block-off plates |
|M-2301-S ||Snake fuel cap |
|M-11572-B ||Modified Ford GT start button |
|M-1660-CJ ||Cobra Jet hoodscoop |
|M-9278-BFSE ||Gauge—oil pressure (0-100 psi) |
|M-11622-BFSE ||Gauge—2 1/16-inch vacuum/boost |
|M-17360-CJ ||Gauge—5-inch pedestal tach |
|M-10883-BFSE ||Gauge—water temp (100-250 degrees) |
|M-1620001-CJ ||Standard Graphics Package |
|M-1620001-CJ1 ||Optional Showcar graphics package |
|M-1620001-54CJ ||5.4-liter Cobra Jet engine graphics |
|M-1821-FR ||Ford Racing windshield banner |
|M-17831-CJ ||Cobra Jet fascia kit |