Sleeper CJ

Tim Tomezak's 1969 Co­bra Jet Mus­tang Sport­sRoof is rare to be sure—and it has a back­story to boot

Mustang Monthly - - CONTENTS - Jim Smart TEXT & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Tim Tomezak’s 1969 Co­bra Jet Mus­tang Sport­sRoof is rare to be sure—and has a back­story to boot

Some­times you find the darn­d­est stuff where you never ex­pected to find it. I was vis­it­ing with a long­time Ford buddy, Art Cairo of sub­ur­ban Detroit, who owns Henry Ford II’s per­sonal one-off 289 Hi-Po Mus­tang hard­top, when I heard a soft rum­ble out on the drive­way. It was this car—a 1969 Co­bra

Jet Sport­sRoof, far from its orig­i­nal birth­place in San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia. In­ter­est­ingly, it was also de­liv­ered to DSO 72, Ford’s San Jose sales dis­trict not far from the Mil­pi­tas as­sem­bly plant, at Frank Cate Ford in Elk Grove just

out­side San Jose where it was born.

When Ford bucked this Mus­tang body nearly a half­cen­tury ago it was clad in Black Jade, which is a very dark metal­lic green. Black Jade isn’t a very pop­u­lar color, and we’ve seen our share of Black Jade cars that be­came a dif­fer­ent color—a pop­u­lar color in 1969, but not so pop­u­lar to­day.

What in­spired Tim to buy this car in an on­line auc­tion was its en­gine, Ford’s leg­endary 428 Co­bra Jet FE big-block mill. “As a fan of clas­sic Mus­tangs with FE power, I bought a 1967 fast­back with a trans­planted 428 Co­bra Jet amped up with dual quads and a Top Loader four­speed. I was ready to rock,” Tim tells Mus­tang Monthly. He adds, “Although that

’67 Mus­tang was a blast to drive, it needed a lot of work.” Tim ul­ti­mately sold the car to seek what he re­ally wanted.

The raw ap­peal of the FE se­ries big-block was its real-world torque—not the sim­u­lated torque of to­day’s modern over­head­cam, small-bore/short­stroke scream­ers. The 428 Co­bra Jet em­ploys big dis­place­ment, mean­ing a 4.130-inch bore di­am­e­ter with 3.980 inches of stroke. We’re talk­ing 4 by 4 inches of ground-pound­ing twist at the traf­fic light and in the wa­ter box.

The Co­bra Jet, with its brute torque, stood NHRA Su­per Stock on its ear at the Win­ter­na­tion­als in Jan­uary of 1968. No one knew it was com­ing un­til it ar­rived and be­gan spank­ing GM, Chrysler, and AMC pony cars and in­ter­me­di­ates. “What the hell is in that Mus­tang?” vet­eran drag rac­ers asked.

By to­day’s high­tech stan­dards, the 428 Co­bra Jet is a di­nosaur. How­ever, it will still crack

a 10-11–se­cond quar­ter­mile elapsed time without break­ing a sweat. It rocks. It rolls. It gets the at­ten­tion of nos­tal­gic fans who fondly re­mem­ber what it did to the com­pe­ti­tion in 1968.

Af­ter Tim sold his

1967 fast­back, he be­gan a dili­gent search for a big-block Mus­tang. First, it had to be a match­ingnum­ber orig­i­nal. Se­cond, it needed to have that all­busi­ness look and at­ti­tude of some­thing like a Trans Am Boss race car. These re­quire­ments nar­rowed the field con­sid­er­ably.

When it was time to buy, the web brought Tim only two list­ings, both at auc­tions. He missed the first one, which left just one com­ing up for auc­tion that ul­ti­mately be­came his. It was this one, bucked Novem­ber 11, 1968, at

Ford’s Mil­pi­tas, Cal­i­for­nia, plant, one of 14,663 Co­bra Jet Mus­tangs pro­duced in the 1969 model year.

Back in the late 1960s, Ford cus­tomers could or­der a new Mus­tang just about any way and in any color they de­sired. There were unique rides like this one, an odd duck some­one or­dered to please them­selves and no one else. This was a plain-Jane 1969 Mus­tang Sport­sRoof with stan­dard black vinyl in­te­rior and no other ap­point­ments. It was or­dered with one agenda in mind—to go fast. This was a re­ally vanilla Sport­sRoof ride with dog-dish hub­caps and bi­ased belted tires. No Mach 1 op­tion. For­get Grande. Not a con­vert­ible. Vanilla bean, no frills, 63A body code not likely to ever stand out in a crowd un­til the pedal hit the metal.

This is a dou­ble “R” car built in San Jose with a Shaker ram-air 428

Co­bra Jet, C6 Se­lect-Shift three-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, 3.50:1 Trac­tion-Lok, power disc brakes, power steer­ing, Com­pe­ti­tion Sus­pen­sion, and an in-dash eight-grand tachome­ter. Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works tells Tim that Ford pro­duced but a hand­ful of these Co­bra Jet Sport­sRoofs.

Tim tells us his Sport­sRoof re­ceived a full-scale restora­tion some time in its past that in­cluded quar­ter-pan­els and a floor­pan, both odd for a Cal­i­for­nia car. Color was changed from Black Jade to Candyap­ple Red. The in­te­rior was orig­i­nally Dark Ivy Green, changed to black vinyl.

The seller had owned this car for seven years,

driv­ing it very lit­tle—just 200 miles in all that time. “To make the car safer,”

Tim com­ments, “all sys­tems that suf­fered from a long stor­age pe­riod had to be fresh­ened up in­clud­ing brakes, car­bu­re­tor, fuel sys­tem, elec­tri­cal sys­tem, and even the Ther­ma­c­tor smog pump.” Tim took de­liv­ery, got the car ready for ac­tion, and brought it to Detroit’s leg­endary Wood­ward Dream Cruise. He lives not far away in Water­ford, Michi­gan, where sunny, driv­able days are quite rare. “Once the Mus­tang was back on the road, I was not sat­is­fied with its han­dling,” Tim laments. “I opted for a good af­ter­mar­ket Street or Track coilover front sus­pen­sion sys­tem, which is made in Michi­gan.”

Tim adds, “The Street or Track sus­pen­sion sys­tem con­sists of new up­per and lower con­trol arms and Bil­stein coilover shocks that con­nect to the lower con­trol arms only. You get the Shelby drop at­tach­ment point for im­proved neg­a­tive cam­ber gain dur­ing body roll.”

“The big, heavy FE Mus­tang will never han­dle like a small-block Boss, but is now ca­pa­ble of han­dling far ex­ceed­ing the fac­tory’s Com­pe­ti­tion Sus­pen­sion op­tion,” Tim com­ments. “This mod­i­fi­ca­tion low­ered the front end 2½ inches. The front-end drop, in con­cert with 17x8-inch front and 17x9-inch Vin­tage Wheel Works five-spokes and P235/45R17 and P255/45R17 Falken tires, made all the dif­fer­ence in both han­dling and great looks.”

Tim didn’t stop at skins and wheels. The C6 has been com­pletely re­built, in­clud­ing a B&M Shift Improve­ment Kit. Mach 1 ap­point­ments such as rich wood­grain were added. “My Sport­sRoof is com­plete, and is cer­tainly a blast to drive.” Tim adds, “Big FE torque lights up those Falkens leav­ing any traf­fic light quickly, then cor­ner­ing at the round­about at the next free­way exit. Next on my wish list is an en­gine re­build to fully re­store this en­gine’s orig­i­nal look and func­tion. Af­ter that, fresh seat up­hol­stery in or­der to stay put and en­joy the car’s great cor­ner­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.”

Tim scratches his head re­gard­ing the Co­bra Jet Shaker hood­scoop. He has seen them with “Co­bra Jet” only and the com­bi­na­tion “Co­bra Jet 428.” Does any­one out there know what’s cor­rect?

Tim grabs the wheel and shifter flat, get­ting af­ter the 428’s brute Amer­i­can big-block torque. This is a pointand-shoot Mus­tang Sport­sRoof with 428ci, three-speed au­to­matic, and 3.50:1 Trac­tion-Lok. It de­liv­ers torque along with good open-road man­ners.

Ford’s 335hp 428 Co­bra Jet was un­der­rated to stay off the radar of in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and Wash­ing­ton. More re­al­is­tic fig­ures were closer to 375-400 horse­power. This en­gine makes raw torque and horse­power with the but­ter­flies pinned. Note this one still has its Ther­ma­c­tor emis­sions sys­tem.

This is the Ford-Thomp­son power steer­ing pump com­mon on 1965-up Mus­tangs. From 1965-1966, the Thomp­son pump had a large dip­stick hous­ing. Be­gin­ning in 1967, it had a small dip­stick tube like this one. The Co­bra Jet got a larger drive pul­ley to re­duce ro­ta­tional speed at high en­gine rpms. Check out the power steer­ing fluid cooler.

In­side is Ford’s stan­dard black vinyl in­te­rior. Yet it sports resto­mod nu­ances like red door bot­toms, Mach 1 wood­grain, and af­ter­mar­ket in­stru­men­ta­tion. The eight-grand tachome­ter is fac­tory orig­i­nal. You’d ex­pect to see Knit­ted Vinyl Sports In­te­rior high-back bucket seats in this oth­er­wise vanilla Sport­sRoof. In­stead, it’s the orig­i­nal stan­dard black vinyl bucket seats with head­rests, which be­came manda­tory in 1969.

When Ford stylists re­designed the fast­back, they gave it pop-out quar­ter-win­dows and a sim­u­lated quar­ter-scoop, along with broad-shoul­dered quar­ter-pan­els. This was a nice de­par­ture from the 1965-1968 fast­back. Ford’s mar­ket­ing types re­named it Sport­sRoof.

Op­tional Sports Slats keep bright sun off your back.

Pure Michi­gan, pure Detroit/Dear­born power born in Ford’s dy­namome­ter lab­o­ra­tory a life­time ago, not to men­tion dragstrips across the land.

Vin­tage Wheel Works five-spoke 17-inch wheels wrapped in Falken rub­ber make the ride. Tim gets great han­dling and looks from both.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.