1968½ Ford Mus­tang 428 Co­bra Jet 135-Se­ries

Muscle Car Review - - 1968 Super Stock Cars -

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.

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