Ford’s Cobra Jet Engine Turns Fifty

The story of the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet engine goes back to 1968 when the muscle car era was in its prime, and production drag cars were causing a frenzy amongst drivers. People wanted the most horsepower, stuffed into the lightest cars, and manufacturers were all-to-happy to produce special packages to keep public interest.

With the horsepower and performance race on, Ford knew it had to come out on top, starting in the 1968 season, they introduced the 428ci powered Cobra Jet engine. This monster of a powertrain came with 335-horsepower, which was a huge upgrade from the output of the 390 engine of 1967.

Bob Tasca, owner of Tasca Ford in Rhode Island, is the grandfather of the engine. He used a recipe that called for high-flowing 427 heads, with the bottom end of a FE 428  engine to make the Cobra Jet. Ford picked up on this powerhouse after seeing the potential, and made 50-lightweight 428 CJ Mustangs for the dragstrip. These Mustangs would go on to make their mark on history, and gain the reputation of winner’s circle cars.

Fast forward four-decades, and Ford Performance was ready to revive the formula again for racing. In 2008, they created a race ready Mustangs with a modern CJ engine, a 5.4-liter DOHC with supercharger, that made 425-horsepower. Although, with a little work, these engines are well-capable of reaching 1,000-horsepower with ease.

Since 2008, 300 new Cobra Jets have been delivered to racers and collectors all over the world. They’ve also been responsible for countless NHRA, IHRA, NMCA, and NMRA wins and records. Rolling into the 2018 race season, as the engine celebrates its 50-year anniversary, Ford Performance is hoping to make the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet the first 7-second Stock Eliminator car in the history of the NHRA.

Between the Cobra Jet, Dodge Drag Pack and the COPO Camaro, factory drag racing is as hot was it was back when the CJ was just introduced. We would definitely consider this to be the year of the Cobra Jet!

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