Rick Parker could have made grand statements about his most recent Mustang restoration. After all, his Grabber Orange '70 SportsRoof is a plain-Jane factory muscle car with the Super Cobra Jet 428 backed by a close-ratio four-speed and 4.30:1 gears in a Detroit-Locker rearend. Instead, he put the car in historical perspective.
"Basically, it's a cheap fastback," Rick said. "It's not even a Mach 1. But it is a double R-code."
"Double-R" is a buzzword that is gaining traction in the Mustang hobby. The first "R" in the VIN, 0R02R13505, stands for the San Jose, California, assembly plant. The second "R" denotes the 428 Cobra Jet with Shaker hoodscoop for ram air. Ford used "R" for its hot engines, and "R" also stands for race. The San Jose code merely doubles the intensity.
The Cobra Jet 428 becomes an even bigger deal with the 4.30 rear axle, coded "W" on the door data plate. Mustang Cobra Jets with "W" or "Y," the latter for 3.91 Traction-Lok gears, came from the factory with the Drag Pack option, which consisted of an external oil cooler, capscrew connecting rods, a modified flywheel, and a unique engine damper--all the better for drag racing, according to the original sales literature.
Rick has owned his Double-R SCJ for nine years. So much time has elapsed that he can't recall the exact place in Texas he located the big-block Mustang. He does recall the body was rust free. The vintage fastback was a driver and "looked pretty good."
Like most cars of this age, some of the parts were not original. The smog system, for example, was reproduction. Five or six years ago, Rick began collecting N.O.S parts, including radiator hoses, chrome and bright work, rubber seals, door handles, trunk mat, and other "gingerbread" parts that Rick says can "make or break your car.
He tracked down the correctly dated carburetor. He replaced the reproduction smog parts with an original system. One of the strange sights is the inside of the fuel filler cap and the filler neck on the gas tank, unique to California-bound Mustangs. This cap was extremely hard to find and very expensive.
According to a Marti Auto Works production report, a dealer ordered this SCJ fastback for the showroom. The build is very focused. The Marti report lists the following options: Detroit Locker differential, black hood stripe, evaporative emissions, four-speed close ratio manual transmission, 428 SCJ engine/Drag Pack, F70x14 belted tires with raised white letters, and AM radio.
Rick understands the '70 fastback would look hotter, at least to many enthusiasts, with a set of Magnum 500 wheels and wider tires. But performance looks are in the eye of the beholder. He strongly prefers the vintage drag racing look of dog-dish hubcaps on the stock 14x6 steel rims.
When I asked Rick what he planned to do with the car, he said, "Stare at it. I love it."
Actually, he does drive the car. What the fastback doesn't have in the way of comfort and convenience options further enhances the Super Cobra Jet performance. Rick added, "No disc brakes, no power steering, no tachometer, no console. It doesn't even have sport mirrors--just a single, cheap chrome mirror."
No air conditioning is a given. The fewer features on an SCJ let more of the ultra performance car shine through.
How is the ride and drive? Rick said, "I think the performance outweighs the driveability of this car. To me, when you stand on it, it's a blast to drive. But would I drive it downtown and parallel park? Absolutely not."
The rarity and absolute performance character of this car catch people off guard at shows. "When I take this car to a show, people either get it or they don't." Those who don't get it wonder why it doesn't have rear window slats and a deck lid spoiler. They wonder where the Mach 1 package is. Those who do get it are usually old enough, Rick said, to remember "how cool this drag racing look was in the day."
Rick doesn't believe the SCJ ever saw the strip. There is no evidence of traction bars or headers and beating out the fenders for tire clearance. There's also no evidence of a past owner converting the fastback to a Mach 1 or adding louvers, spoilers, or stripes. So far, all the owners "got it."
"The thing always stayed a cheap fastback," Rick said.
Cheap and fast, that is.