Co­bra ar­gu­ment set­tlers

RE­STRICTED TO OPEN-MINDED READ­ERS ONLY. Strong thought-pro­vok­ing con­tent, myths de­bunked, facts only, no nu­dity. Writ­ten by Mark Bar­r­a­clough.

Australian Muscle Car - - R-Rated -

The XC Fal­con hard­top was not sell­ing well and Ford’s sales and marketing de­part­ment pro­jected - based on past sales records – the com­pany would sell around 100 hard­tops in 1978. This pre­sented a prob­lem for the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany. It didn’t want to be left with a bunch of un­used XC hard­tops. So, with a lit­tle over 500 hard­top shells still in stock, this left about 400 shells with po­ten­tially no home. The bean coun­ters de­cided that scrap­ping them was not a fi­nan­cially vi­able op­tion.

Ford was no stranger to Lim­ited Edition spe­cials as it had pro­duced the XA GT RPO83s, the XA Fal­con ‘Su­per­bird’ and XB Fal­con ‘John Goss Spe­cial’ hard­tops and more re­cently the XC Fal­con ‘Al­lan Mof­fat Spe­cial’ sedan. At the time, one sug­ges­tion was a black Play­boy- themed hard­top with bunny de­cals and sexy black trim, but this was re­jected as be­ing the wrong image for a fam­ily car com­pany like Ford. Ed­sel Ford II was work­ing within Ford Aus­tralia at the time as as­sis­tant man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, and it’s largely thanks to him that the Ford Co­bra con­cept evolved. Ed­sel pro­posed the ‘blue and white’ stripe Co­bra theme as had ap­peared on US cars such as the Car­roll Shelby’s 1966 Ford Mus­tang GT350 and later the 1976 Mus­tang Co­bra II.

The project was given the unin­spir­ing name of Pro­gram 956 and the XC Fal­con Co­bra hard­top was born. In­ter­est­ingly, the Ford Marketing Com­mit­tee were a bit anx­ious about how the Ford Co­bra would be per­ceived be­cause it had badges for a bird (Fal­con), and a snake (Co­bra) on the same car. Need­less to say, Ed­sel Ford’s idea turned out to be a marketing coup. Ford al­lo­cated two Co­bras to each of their pre­mium deal­ers. Other Ford deal­ers snapped up the cars left… and so did the pub­lic, usu­ally at a pre­mium over the dealer sticker price. Con­se­quently de­mand hit fever pitch and many deal­ers that missed out went blue at the Blue Oval.


the 400 Co­bras built, Ford planned 200 Co­bras with the 4.9 litre V8, and 200 with the 5.8-litre V8. Of these, just 30 were ‘Reg­u­lar Pro­duc­tion Op­tion 97’ (RPO-97) units which were later nick­named ‘Bathurst Spe­cials’. These were pri­mar­ily pro­duced to meet Con­fed­er­a­tion of Aus­tralian Mo­tor Sport (CAMS) ho­molo­ga­tion re­quire­ments for tour­ing car rac­ing. The re­main­ing 370 Co­bra hard­tops were coded with ‘Reg­u­lar Pro­duc­tion Op­tion 96’.

The Co­bra was a ‘run­ning change’ to the Fal­con 500 GS hard­top which ba­si­cally meant ad­di­tions and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the ex­ist­ing Fal­con 500 GS. Of­fi­cially, the XC Co­bra hard­tops were all sup­posed to be man­u­fac­tured in July 1978, but by the time all the var­i­ous spe­cialised com­po­nents were sourced many were built in Au­gust and Septem­ber. How­ever, all had a pro­duc­tion VIN al­lo­cated in July be­gin­ning with JG65UM. Whichever Co­bra pack­age you chose (or were lucky enough to get) the Co­bra looked fast stand­ing still, and was cer­tainly not for in­tro­verts.

The 4.9-litre Cleve­land V8 4-speed man­ual Co­bra was the en­try level to en­tice thrifty buy­ers,

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