Scott Wehler knew exactly what he was getting when he bought his '68 Cobra Jet Mustang GT from a collector in Tarpon Springs, Florida, two years ago. Included with the Candyapple Red fastback were a number of magazine articles from the late '80s, all done when the car was owned by Virginia's John Scanelli. The articles in Mustang Monthly and Super Ford detailed the car's history, from its abuse as a drag car in the '60s to its full-scale and somewhat difficult restoration, thanks to incorrect or missing parts, by noted collector-car restoration expert Greg Donahue.
But it was the article in Musclecar Review that really got Scott excited. For the Sept. '89 issue, then-Editor Tom Shaw recruited the CJ GT for a dragstrip shootout against a '68 Yenko Camaro, with none other than "Big Daddy" Don Garlits handling the driving duties. It was billed as a Ford versus Chevy ponycar showdown: 427 Camaro against 428 CJ Mustang. In the end, it wasn't a pretty showing for the Mustang, with Garlits complaining about traction problems and a driveline vibration. The CJ's best performance in the quarter-mile was a 15.55 at 87.93 mph, while Garlits found the right combination of traction and power in the Yenko Camaro by nailing a 14.34 at 99.07.
"The Mustang was giving up so much at the line because of its inability to gain traction," Garlits told the MCR editors. "And if that [the vibration] was straightened out, I think the car would run high 14s."
Of course, in 1968, the Cobra Jet Mustang was Ford's answer to the big-block Camaro and other potent big-inch musclecars of the day. With the 390 serving as the Mustang's top performance engine at the beginning of the '68 model year, Bob Tasca from Tasca Ford influenced Ford with a Hot Rod magazine write-in campaign, which reportedly put over 2,000 letters on Henry Ford II's desk. The result was a midyear 428 Cobra Jet addition to the powertrain option list for Mustang GTs, although fewer than 3,000 CJ Mustangs were produced in that last half of the model year.
A big fan of the '67-'68 fastbacks, Scott Wehler has landed one of the best of the breed. The Candyapple Red paint is the only thing flashy about the fastback. Otherwise, it's got a black standard interior and an AM radio to go with the 330hp 428, four-speed, and 3.91 gears.
Scott and wife Linda plan to hold on to their piece of Mustang performance history as they use the fastback primarily for local Tampa Mustang shows and Sunday morning drives. Their appreciation for the beauty of the '67-'68 fastback (they recently purchased a '67 GT390 fastback) has taken them beyond prizes and trophies. "The only meaningful award this car receives is the excitement and pleasure people feel when they come in contact with a rare, Candyapple Red 428 Cobra Jet," Scott says.
And how many Mustang owners can say they have a signed timeslip from Don Garlits?