The Ford King Cobra Never Got To Dominate
In the late í60s and early í70s, there were some very cool cars built in
Detroit that were made only to get the models onto a NASCAR track to
dominate the racing circuit. These iconic aero cars include the Dodge
Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird. Ford had plans to get in on the aero
car action with a slick ride known as the Ford King Cobra.
The Ford King Cobra was explicitly designed to take down the Daytona and
the Superbird, but alas Fordís creation never made it to the race track.
The team of designers behind the car was led by Larry Shinoda and included
Jacques Passino, Ed Hall, Bill Shannon, and Dick Petit. The goal of the
team was to build a ride that could hit 200 mph.
The base for the Ford King Cobra was the new 1970 Torino, and the
designers put a new aero kit on it including a front end that was one
piece, unlike the competition. The design had a larger grille underneath
placed closer to the ground to avoid issues with overheating that the
Superbird and Daytona suffered from.
The King Cobra went to testing with three prototypes using different
engines including a Boss 429, 429 Super Cobra Jet, and a 429 Cobra Jet.
The resulting cars easily hit the 200 mph mark that was the goal, but they
all had the same problem. Fordís designers opted to build the car with no
rear spoiler, and at speed, the front end made too much downforce
resulting in rear-end lift in high-speed turns. That resulted in the car
being unstable and described as dangerous to drive.
NASCAR rule changes raised the homologation requirements from 500 units to
3,000. Higher production numbers, coupled with the drivability issues, led
to the project being scrapped. The example seen in the images here is one
of those prototypes and was sold at Mecum Auctions for $192,500 this year.
We saw this car turn up on eBay in 2017 asking nearly $460,000.