In any debate with Mopar followers—or just Ford haters—lots of them typically carry up NASCAR, with a preferred level being how the Ford Talladega’s reign was dropped at a screeching halt by the final word aero vehicles, the Dodge Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird. However for the 1971 racing season, Ford had a plan to reclaim its throne within the type of the King Cobra. It was particularly designed to take down the Daytona and the Superbird—if it ever really made it to the monitor.
Certainly, from 1969 and all through 1970, Ford’s Torino Talledega was dominant, and the 1969 driver roster included Richard Petty, after having switched from Plymouth. By mid-1969, Ford had gained eleven races in a row. However Dodge launched the Daytona on the finish of the 1969 season, thus ending Ford and Mercury’s dominance. Plymouth debuted the Superbird for ’70, which not solely teamed with the Daytona to additional humiliate Ford, it in the end lured Petty again to the model.
In response to Mopar’s may, Ford scrambled for an answer and assembled a group led by Larry Shinoda and consisting of Jacques Passino, Ed Corridor, Invoice Shannon, and Dick Petit. Their mission was easy: construct a 200-mph automobile that may beat Dodge and Plymouth. They took the brand new 1970 Torino, added a brand new aero package, and named it the King Cobra. In contrast to the Daytona and the Superbird, the King Cobra’s entrance finish was all one piece as a substitute of a separate nostril cone. It had a bigger grille tucked beneath and nearer to the bottom much like trendy vehicles, thus permitting extra air to move. The Superbird and Daytona famously suffered from overheating issues as a consequence of their small inlets.
Ford saved the fastback and opted to not add a big spoiler—or actually any spoiler in any respect—equipping the three prototypes produced with a Boss 429, a 429 Tremendous Cobra Jet, and a 429 Cobra Jet. When it lastly got here time to check the prototypes on the monitor in Daytona, the King Cobra simply achieved 200 mph . . . however there was an issue. The entrance finish of the automobile was reported to make an excessive amount of downforce, and the shortage of spoiler resulted in rear-end raise in high-speed turns. This made driving it extremely harmful. It was apparent that the King Cobra wanted extra work if it was to compete with the Superbird and Daytona.
The venture was sadly scrapped after this check. The King Cobra’s demise held on a number of elements. NASCAR president and founder Invoice France upped the homologation requirement from 500 to three,000 models shortly after watching the check at Daytona, which, together with tires inadequate for the speeds and an engine handicap, successfully ended the aero-car period. Some place extra blame on Lee Iacocca’s rise to the presidency at Ford and the firing of Larry Shinoda in September 1969. In any occasion, Ford’s racing packages had been eradicated and the 1969 Talladega and Mercury Cyclone fashions had been left to compete as 1970 entries in non-public arms.
The three King Cobras remained in Dearborn, Michigan, on the plant the place they had been produced for a time till two had been bought in 1971 by NASCAR group proprietor Bud Moore for $1200. The opposite was offered off individually, and one among Moore’s vehicles was ultimately present in a subject earlier than being restored. A Mercury model, which for years was believed to be solely legend, was later present in a barn in Indiana.
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We’ll by no means know what NASCAR would have regarded like is the King Cobra had taken to the monitor in anger. By the point its growth was deserted, Ford had already labored shortly and modifications to at least one instance to right the dealing with.
The story of the King Cobra doesn’t essentially have a tragic ending, although: They’re now price a fairly penny, with the instance proven right here having been offered by Mecum Auctions in January for $192,500.
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