Today’s automakers are all about direct injection, turbocharging, and squeezing more and more power out of smaller and smaller engines. But 50 years ago, the only way to make that kind of power required engines nearly twice the size of today’s engines, leading to the development of legendary engines such as the 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet engine.
This motor famously powered the Cobra Jet Mustangs that first appeared in 1968, many of which were prepped for drag racing. But Ford also built a small number of “Lightweight”Cobra Jets exclusively for racing, selling them to racers and engine gurus such as David Lyall for $1.
That’s not a typo. Today, this Mustang is worth an estimated $150,000 according to Mecum Auctions, which will put it up for bid next weekend at its Chicago auction.
Though the 428 Cobra Jet engine was built in the same factory as the rest of the FE engine lineup, it had a longer stroke that produced a substantial increase in low and mid-range torque. Though the Cobra Jet couldn’t rev nearly as high as the shorter-stroked standard 427 motor, it was the perfect candidate for drag racing. Crowned with a low-rise intake, the Cobra Jet Mustang could scoot down the quarter-mile in the low-14s, an impressive feat for the day. Ford made both automatic and manual versions of the Cobra Jet, this one being of the latter persuasion.
Ford didn’t stop there however, which brings us to the “Lightweight” part of this particular auction. The first 50 1968 Cobra Jet Mustangs left the factory sans sound deadening, radio, or even power steering, though they did get a functional Ram Air hood. These cars went exclusively to drag racers, many of whom successfully campaigned them throughout NHRA events.
This particular car has undergone an extensive restoration and comes with pictures of the restoration, as well as extensive documentation that includes Lyall’s original $1 contract with Ford. Valued at around $150,000 now, we’d say it was a once-in-a-lifetime investment.