One of Rick Parker's pastimes is chasing rare Fords; restoring them as a business helps. Recently, someone called in search of a 351-powered vintage '69-'70 Mach 1. Rick had one, but it needed a restoration. The caller wasn't interested, saying he already had a restoration project. "What could that be?" Rick wondered aloud.
"Oh, Daddy's got a rare one," the caller said.
When the caller spit out the words "'70 Cobra Jet Ram-Air convertible," Rick almost dropped the telephone. Most projects hiding behind the barn are not big-block convertibles.
"I thought, OK, somebody's pulling a prank on me."
But the muscle Mustang was for real. The caller forwarded 30 pictures by e-mail, along with the VIN.
"He quit driving it because of a timing chain problem," said Rick, who could smell a rare find and perhaps a deal. Basically, the '70 convertible was an undiscovered diamond in the rough. Rick didn't hesitate. He had a friend in St. Louis, Missouri, pick up the CJ and store it until he could come get it.
Parker owns Signature Auto Classics in Columbus, Ohio, where the sign out front reads, "Bosscars.com." Rick restores and collects Boss and Cobra Jet Mustangs, as well as Fairlanes, Torinos, Cougars, Galaxies, and Shelbys-literally, any Ford musclecar. Of his restored treasures, Rick says this '70 Mustang Cobra Jet Ram-Air (R-code) convertible is "the rarest car I've ever owned."
The CJ had been in the owner's family for 25 years. The odometer had topped 60,000, but the body was rust-free and nice. Rick dropped in a battery and the car fired up.
Originally Medium Blue Metallic, a previous owner had changed the color to Grabber Blue in the mid-'70s. The seller said there was no paperwork, but after the purchase, Rick received a package in the mail with three buildsheets, the owner's manual, the warranty card, the original invoice, and the window sticker.
The original order form, from Dave Sinclair Ford in St. Louis, was dated February 5, 1970. The 37-year-old paperwork revealed, "CJ non-Ram-Air Shaker hood," which is ambiguous. A Shaker scoop is Ram-Air; it cost $356.
The order form also documented the four-speed. The owner didn't get the Traction-Lok differential. Apparently, he had no intentions of racing, ordering the single-track rearend with conservative 3.50:1 gears. From the condition of the car, including original smog equipment and exhausts, this Cobra Jet led a life free of major abuse. The one missing part was the CJ's Holley 735 four-barrel, which had been replaced with a correct service carburetor.
Optional black hood stripes give the convertible a Mach 1 appearance. Other options include a power top, a glass rear window, F70-14 tires, an AM radio, and sport wheel covers, which were the same as the standard wheel covers on '70 Mach 1s.
The window sticker price was $4,066, a very expensive Mustang in 1970. "For just a little more money you could've had a Shelby convertible," Rick says.
Production numbers reveal that most buyers who ordered a '70 Cobra Jet convertible chose a GT500, of which there were 334 built. The Marti Report for Rick's car revealed that 51 convertibles in 1970 came with the Ram-Air Cobra Jet and four-speed. Another 72 were automatics with the Ram-Air CJ. Just 14 came with the Q-code (non-Ram-Air) CJ.
These totals include Shelbys, so they shrink when you take out the GT500s. Rick doesn't know how far the numbers shrink. He's heard a production number of 11 for his '70 CJ Ram-Air with four-speed.
The seller wasn't kidding when he said, "Daddy's got a rare one."