This year marks half a century since Ford first launched the Mustang Cobra Jet, a special turnkey model designed specifically for drag racers. So it's fitting, then, that the Cobra Jet returns this year with special 50th-anniversary decals and mechanical upgrades. And as promised, Ford says it's the quickest one yet.
The history of the Cobra Jet is simple. In 1968, Ford rolled out 50 lightweight, 335-horsepower Mustangs for use as drag-racing machines -- though they were street-legal cars. The cars proved to be a huge success on the drag strip. In 2008 Ford revived the idea, this time with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 under the hood of the Cobra Jet -- but now the 50 cars were VIN-less and thus destined only for racing. Then from 2009 through 2016, Ford sold another 250 Cobra Jets. As ever, customers could order the high-performance machine directly from any local Ford dealership.
The new 2018 model continues that tradition. It is, once again, equipped from the factory with a roll cage, FIA-certified seats and other safety equipment that you'll need to hit the strip. A 5.2-liter V8, augmented by a Whipple supercharger, provides motivation, while chassis upgrades include things like adjustable coilover suspension, "low drag" disc brakes and a specially designed four-link rear suspension. And that's before listing the myriad other technical changes between a standard road-going Mustang and the Cobra Jet.
Ford doesn't quote a horsepower figure for the engine but says the racer will blast through the quarter-mile in the "mid-eight-second" range at 150 miles per hour. Need some context as to how quick that is? The Dodge Challenger Demon -- which is a completely different animal, being a street car that you could, if so inclined, drive to Trader Joe's -- set a production-car record when it ran the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds.
The 50th anniversary Cobra Jet lists for $130,000, and Ford will sell just 68 of them in honor of the original's debut back in 1968. The order books are open now.