Man, sometimes even we get a little sick at our luck. We got an e-mail from our pal Jon Sandahl at Tube Chassis Designz in Hanson, Mass. You may remember Jon’s name from the ongoing saga of the hacko-rama General Lee. This e-mail was short and rather terse.
“Cobra Jet number 17 in the shop,” it read, and there were a couple of photos with it. After scraping ourselves off the floor, we called Jon and asked if we could come over and see the beast. He checked with the owner (more on that in a minute) and got the all clear, so over we went.
Sounds lame, but have you ever gotten the “woah” feeling when you around a car that was just epically cool? Being a dragophile, I got that as soon as I got a close look at this thing. Factory built drag cars have such a neat place in the history of the sport and this is yet another example, and a top notch one at that.
Honestly, seeing, touching, and being around this car, even as it sat torn apart and silent, really makes you think that there’s still hope for Detroit. Get all of the bean counting idiots out of the way and let engineers execute on ideas. What will you get? The best freaking cars in the world.
Back to the topic at hand.
This is Cobra Jet Mustang #17, one of the first two to be made available to the general public. It is owned by Carl Tasca of the legendary Tasca family that hails from Rhode Island. Tasca nearly single-handedly forced Ford into the drag performance realm of the ‘60s with the creation of the Thunderbolt, and ironically, they created the Cobra Jet Mustang which they were hand building at their dealership and selling as KR-8. In more modern times it was old man Tasca himself who personally stepped in and got John Force to become a member of the Ford family. It’s an amazing story that’s best told over frosties. Bob the III is an NHRA nitro Funny Car racer, continuing on the family heritage.
The Tasca dealership sold #16 to a customer and Carl had to have #17. Carl is an active part of the massive dealership operation on the financial side, so he also bleeds Ford Blue.
So how did this car end up at Jon’s shop above all others? The connection started several years ago when Jon got the opportunity to take in an ex-Tony Pedragon Nitro F/C (from his Force racing days) and convert it to alky f/c specs when Bob III was getting his feet wet in big-time stuff. The family was so happy with Jon’s craftsmanship and work that he’s been their go-to guy ever since, a responsibility that Jon, also a devoted drag history lover, does not take lightly.
The better question we suppose is why is the thing at Jon’s shop? It’s barely ever been fired, never even spun the tires yet, and was basically brought directly from Ford straight to the chassis shop to be torn apart. Roush installs a factory rollbar, but a ‘bar is only good to 10.0 and so a full cage will be needed once this car gets into the 9s and the Tasca boys expect to have it there sooner rather than later. Because of that, they tasked Jon with putting a certifiable cage in the car so they’ll never have a problem with the tech department. The amount of crazy awesome fabrication work that goes into a cage that gets hidden under the dash and other places is sad, there’s some wonderful metal working that no one will ever see…until the car is restored in 30-40 years.
We’d probably whiz our shorts when working on this car, whose value is literally increasing by the second, but for the chassis guys, it’s just another day at the office.
Stuff you may not have known
These cars are set for their big public racing debut at Pomona in a couple of weeks, but buyers are already getting them. What’s to prevent someone from stealing Ford’s thunder by getting one on a strip sooner? The computer tune in the car only allows the throttle to open 40 percent currently. After Pomona, all of the owners will receive either an entirely new computer or a flash tuner to fix that problem. Drive-by-wire tech is scary eh?
The rear quarter windows are made of molded Lexan. The Lexan is molded to fit the louvers which, unlike normal louvers, actually sit flush with the body. The cars all have mirror delete as well. Aero tricks?
The hood scoop is open, most likely to vent heat from the blower as the air intake is in an air box to the front of the motor, still cool to see an actual hole under there.
It’s got a 9-inch Ford rear end with a 4-link suspension that uses lots of neat factory looking brackets. Special Tokico shocks are mounted as well.
This car has a five-speed trans that was beefed by Liberty Gear and has a totally bitchin’ Liberty shifter. According to Jon, very few automatics were produced.
The car comes with half a back seat. There’s no upper section of the seat included.
The engine bay is downright roomy with the lack of a heater box and other accoutrements found on street versions of the Mustang. There’s room to work on the motor, which is totally lacking in the street cars.
The cars come with no VIN, only a serial number plate. We were looking for a cool tag that said something like, “Drive this on the street and be thrown in a Turkish prison” but there’s not such plate.