While cruising the show field of the Mid-America Shelby meet in Tulsa a couple of years ago, we came across something that caused us to do a double take. Since one of our staffers, who shall remain unnamed for multiple reasons, has a penchant for '71-'73 ponycars, the obligatory half-hour admiration session of one particular '72 fastback was expected. What was unexpected, upon closer examination of the car, was the peculiar Cobra emblem on the front grille and the unique "Cobra Mustang" lettering on the front quarter-panels.
Huh? What's up with that? we wondered. Was the Mustang Monthly staff-in all its magnificent omniscience-somehow ignorant of this rare breed of ponycar? Nah, couldn't be!
That was about the time owner Robert Waddle sauntered over with a wry grin on his face and basked in the befuddlement of the big-shot magazine dudes. After playing us like a fine fiddle for a little while, he gave us the story and let us off the hook.
Robert, a semiretired resident of Rogers, Arkansas, has been interested in Mustangs since 1969 and has seen a number of Ponies lodged in his stable throughout the years, including a '64 1/2 K-code convertible, a '70 Boss 302, and a '71 fastback. About six years ago Robert came across this '72 fastback and decided, "Why not?"
A friend told Robert about the car, and when Robert went to look at it, the car was resting despondently at the base of a hill in New Blaine, Arkansas. In sum, the fastback was pretty much shot. It sported a fancy flat-black, spray can paint job; a blown 351 Windsor engine; and an FMX auto trans that had been indignantly relocated to the back seat. To add insult to injury, Robert found a couple of bullet holes going through the rear wheelwells and the trunk-evidently a victim of "pony sniping."
With a little extra time on his hands and a genuine love for the breed, Robert bought the car and decided to give it the full resto treatment. The car was completely disassembled and shipped to Marion Petersen for the necessary bodywork, after which the fastback was caught in a hailstorm, so a bit of touching up was required before Marion was able to apply the Calypso Coral topcoat.
Once the bodywork was completed, Robert sent the 351 V-8 off to David Jones for a thorough rehash, with a little spice thrown in. David bored the block 0.030 inch over, and in the rebuild process, he dropped in a Lunati cam, an Offenhauser 4V intake, and a breezy Holley 780-cfm carburetor.
For the remainder of the build-up, Robert enlisted the help of son Richard (whose '72 Mach 1 was featured in the Jan. '01 issue of Mustang Monthly, "Restored? Naw...," page 56), to reassemble the car. This included reinstalling the air conditioning, the power steering and brakes, the window louvers, the rear wing, the front spoiler, the console, the tilt steering, the tachometer and gauges, and the AM/FM stereo. Rolling stock comprised of 15x7 Magnum 500s and P235-R60-15 tires, which completed the 16-month project. Well, almost.
Always looking to live the Mustang experience to the fullest, Richard decided to have a little fun with this car. He added a Cobra emblem to the honeycomb grille, then had Mike Adkins create a special set of body-side tape stripes and "Mustang Cobra" lettering for the side panels.
Ah, our bruised psyches were now wholly restored.
"We made the car into a 'Cobra' for fun at car shows," comments Richard.
He gets the biggest kick from folks who just don't get it.
"People tell us they 'had one just like it,' or 'You don't see many Cobras any more!'" says Richard.
No kidding. Boy, what these grit-eaters (we can say that because we're southerners and we eat grits too!) won't do for a few yuks.