THE BOT­TOM END

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Diego Rosen­berg

Ihave never been much of a Ford guy, but thanks to a pass­ing in­ter­est in pro­duc­tion num­bers, my en­thu­si­asm for FoMoCo prod­ucts shot way up due to Marti Auto Works’ Marti Re­port (mar­ti­auto.com) Kevin Marti’s com­pany is a li­censee to Ford’s en­tire pro­duc­tion data­base from 1967 to 2012. (Sorry, the records from ear­lier years have gone poof!)

Since the late 1990s, Ford prod­ucts have gone from prac­ti­cally of­fer­ing the least amount of pro­duc­tion in­for­ma­tion among the Big Three clas­sics to the most in­tri­cate info bar none. De­spite this, mis­in­for­ma­tion con­tin­ues to pre­vail among the Ford faith­ful. Take the 1970 Torino as an ex­am­ple.

To­tally re­designed for the new decade, Ford’s mid­size se­ries fea­tured sev­eral new en­gines and a shuf­fled model hi­er­ar­chy: Fair­lane 500, Torino Co­bra, Torino, Torino

GT, and Torino Brougham. In Jan­uary, Ford in­tro­duced the 1970½ Fal­con, which was in­serted be­low the Fair­lane 500.

New for the se­ries were three ver­sions of the 429 en­gine: 429 four-bar­rel, 429 Co­bra, and 429 Co­bra Jet. The first, rated at 360 hp (and with an N in the fifth spot of the VIN), is of­ten re­ferred to as the Thun­der Jet, the name used for the 1968-1969 Thun­der­bird and 1969 big cars. The sec­ond (C-code) is typ­i­cally known as the 370-horse Co­bra Jet with­out ram air. The third (J-code) was rated the same but came with ram air. If you look at the lat­ter two en­gines, you may won­der why Ford gave them two dif­fer­ent names de­spite the only dis­cernible dif­fer­ence be­ing an air in­duc­tion sys­tem.

But hold on—it gets even more con­fus­ing. A pack­age called the Drag Pack added a num­ber of heavy-duty com­po­nents to en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity at the dragstrip: ex­ter­nal oil cooler; cap-screw con­nect­ing rods; me­chan­i­cal lifters; mod­i­fied crank­shaft, fly­wheel, and damper; and ei­ther 3.91 or 4.30 gears with Trac­tion-Lok. Af­ter De­cem­ber 1969, the lat­ter in­cluded the mighty Detroit Locker axle. These im­prove­ments added 5 hp on pa­per and trans­formed the Co­bra Jet

“Mis­in­for­ma­tion con­tin­ues to pre­vail among the Ford faith­ful”

into the Super Co­bra Jet.

De­spite the ad­vent of the Marti Re­port, many peo­ple be­lieve that any J-code Torino is an SCJ, but that’s not true. That’s just the CJ with ram air. Plus, the Drag Pack can­not be de­ter­mined by any­thing in the VIN. Ad­di­tion­ally, some folks feel that only J-codes were avail­able with the Drag Pack, but it was avail­able on C-code Tori­nos as well (al­though C-code SCJs are much rarer than J-code SCJs).

Even though Drag Pack–equipped cars can’t be doc­u­mented by the VIN, here’s a help­ful rule of thumb: A data plate with a V or W in the axle code sug­gests the car is equipped with 3.91 or 4.30 gears from the fac­tory, ei­ther of which were only avail­able with the Drag Pack. Yet there also are doc­u­mented anom­alies, like a hand­ful of N-code Tori­nos built with 4.30 gears be­fore the fac­tory put the ki­bosh on it. De­spite the gear­ing, these 429/360 Tori­nos were not Drag Packs be­cause they didn’t re­ceive the HD up­grades, not to men­tion the Drag Pack was only avail­able for the CJs.

For 1971, the Torino re­ceived a very mild facelift and the lineup was shuf­fled again thanks to the elim­i­na­tion of the Fal­con and Fair­lane 500. The Torino be­came the base model of the se­ries, with the new Torino

500 slot­ted above it. The 429 four-bar­rel was dis­con­tin­ued, but both 429 Co­bra Jets lived on for one more year. The Drag Pack ap­peared in lit­er­a­ture and in sev­eral road tests with pre­pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles, but ac­cord­ing to Marti Auto Works, only 1971 Mus­tangs were built with the Drag Pack.

If you’re with me so far, you’re do­ing great, but pre­pare your­self for more bog­gling when Mer­cury en­ters the pic­ture.

For 1970, the Cy­clone se­ries con­sisted of the base Cy­clone, Cy­clone GT, and Cy­clone Spoiler. All were avail­able with the 429 Co­bra Jet, with the Spoiler hav­ing the CJ with ram air stan­dard. How­ever, all CJ Cy­clones were C-codes whether they had ram air or not— there were no J-codes. Huh? For what­ever rea­son, in­stead of giv­ing the air-in­ducted CJ its own VIN char­ac­ter as Ford did, Mer­cury sim­ply made ram air an op­tional ac­ces­sory.

Even stranger, Co­bra Jet Mer­curys re­verted to Ford’s method for 1971, so 429 CJs with ram air were J-codes. And, of course, none were built with the Drag Pack.

And we won­der why we can never agree on what was the first mus­cle car!

n Robert Cuil­lerier’s 1970 Torino GT Sport­sRoof is one of 913 built with the 429 Co­bra Jet with ram air. Among the 1,293 CJs built (both C- and J-code), only 241 had the Drag Pack.

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