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