THE BOTTOM END
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.