1968½ Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet 135-Series
Drag racing history credits Bob Tasca, owner of Tasca Ford in Rhode Island, with the creation of the 1968½ 428ci Cobra Jet Mustang. Previously, the 390ci FE 390 engine was the largest available in the
1968 Mustang. Tasca knew that Ford was outclassed at the dragstrip and needed more beans to be competitive. He directed his service department to build its own
428 Mustang using a 428 Police Interceptor short-block, 427 low-riser heads, and a 735-cfm Holley carburetor. The November 1967 Hot Rod magazine article about Tasca’s 428 Mustang sparked public outcry for Ford to build a production version.
In December 1967 Ford announced it would build what the customers wanted. To meet NHRA requirements for Super Stock racing, Ford built an initial batch of 50 1968½ Cobra Jet Mustangs intended for drag racing only. Because those 50 cars had VINs that ran from 135007 to 135056, Ford guys refer to them as “135-series” cars.
All of the 135-series cars were non-GT Wimbledon White fastbacks with the 428 motor, 390 exhaust manifolds (that didn’t fit properly), drum brakes, manual steering, 3.89 Ford 9-inch rear, and four-speed manual transmission. Of those 50 cars, only 20 were actual lightweights, built without insulation or seam sealer.
David Garton’s Cobra Jet Mustang was originally purchased from Russ Davis Ford by Phil Glass in 1968. Russ Davis Ford received six 135-series cars in 1968. Of those six, two were insulation- and seam-sealerdelete. Garton’s car is one of those two.
Gas Ronda, who worked at the dealership, directed his buddy Glass to a very special Wimbledon White, 428-powered Mustang. Glass bought the car and owned it for about five years. He then sold the car to James Heidenreich of Glendora, California. Heidenreich apparently raced the car briefly, but then grenaded the motor.
Rather than fix the 428, Heidenreich parked the car in his backyard under a tarp. The car sat there from about 1974 until about 2008, when the 59-year-old Heidenreich died, leaving the rare and valuable Mustang to his cousin, Joe Boda of Maryland. Over a period of two years, Boda wisely gathered information on his Cobra Jet race car roller. When the matter had been fully investigated, Joe sold the car to David Garton, a 1968½ Mustang guy who truly appreciates not only the car but its racing heritage as well.
“Tasca knew that Ford was outclassed”
n The scoop on the first 50 135-series Cobra Jet cars is unique, hand-laid fiberglass. The sticker on the oil pan reads, from the top, “Valvoline Racing Oil, Participant, 1969 NHRA Springnationals.”
n David Garton’s car has mostly original paint, with only the lettering restored according to the impressions left in the paint from 1968.
n A Sun tach is mounted in clear sight of the driver. The odometer shows about 300 miles.
The Rotunda fire extinguisher is strapped to the three-point bolt-in roll bar. The born-with, VIN-stamped Ford Toploader is shifted by a Hurst Competition Plus shifter with separate Reverse lever.
n All of the 135 cars were equipped with the 428ci Cobra Jet engine. The air cleaner base is original to the car. Original owner Phil Glass equipped the car with the heat shields and spacers to isolate heat from the fuel/air mixture. The original cool can is still in place and operational. On August 23, 2017, Garton reunited his Cobra Jet Mustang with Glass.
n The car was purchased at Russ Davis Ford in Covina, California. Gas Ronda worked at that dealership. He typically sent their race cars to Holman & Moody-Stroppe for suspension modifications. Although there is no documentation to prove it, the suspension modifications were likely performed at Holman & MoodyStroppe.
n On occasion, Garton occasionally runs his Blair-Patrickpowered 428 Cobra Jet down the quarter-mile. He plans to keep the car in unrestored condition, to keep the glory days of the 1968½ 428 Cobra Jet Mustang 135-series car alive.