AN ORIGINAL LIGHTWEIGHT: This 135-Code 1968 Ford Mustang 428 CJR was an NHRA Knockout


Written by Nicole Ellan James


In 1968, Ford undertook the construction of a series of 50 “135” fastback Mustangs with a specific objective: to qualify for NHRA stock classes. Meticulously assigned consecutive VIN codes starting with 8F02R135007 and ending with 8F02R135056, these vehicles incorporated the relatively new 428ci engine equipped with a mix of Police Interceptor parts and bespoke Ford performance gears to create what has become known as the Cobra Jet.

To introduce this remarkable car, Ford produced homologation models exclusively tailored for racing purposes. All elegantly coated in Wimbledon White over a sleek black interior, these models proudly showcased the powerful 428ci engine hooked to a 4-speed transmission, manual drum brakes and a 3.89:1 rear end (despite the door tags indicating a 3.25:1).

Among the 50 units, 20 were designated as pure lightweights, as indicated by DSO 844661, intentionally devoid of sound insulation or seam sealer. It is crucial to emphasize that when their racing intentions are mentioned, it is by no means an exaggeration. Ford faced a predicament as they lacked suitable exhaust manifolds for the 428 Cobra Jet in the Mustang during that period. Consequently, they resorted to installing 390 manifolds solely to fulfill delivery requirements. With a rear port mating surface as narrow as one-sixteenth of an inch, these vehicles were not suitable for street use. However, it was expected that virtually all owners of these 50 Mustangs would eventually install headers, regardless.

In late December 1967, Ford manufactured the 1968 Lightweight Cobra Jet being offered with No Reserve during the inaugural Barrett-Jackson New Orleans Auction, September 28-30. Bearing the identification number #135044, the car was initially sold by Russ Davis Ford of Covina, California.

Among the 50 cars produced, several found their way into the possession of race teams. Notably, two specific vehicles – with identification numbers 135050 and 135054 – were included in a group of six cars that played a significant role in introducing the world to the 428 Cobra Jet at the 1968 NHRA Winternationals.

According to a previous owner, this 1968 Mustang had an impressive racing history at Music City Speedway in the C-Stock category for approximately 10 years. Around 1978, it underwent a transformation into a Super Stock car under the ownership of Jeff Velde, a renowned drag racer and dealership owner. Subsequently, the vehicle received a meticulous restoration to its original specifications by Randy Delisio of Lyons, New York, while the engine underwent comprehensive enhancements by Cobra Automotive in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Notably, this Mustang achieved recognition and acclaim in various circles and emerged as a  Hemmings Muscle Car of the Year finalist back in 2013. The car’s significance is further reinforced by its inclusion in the 428 Cobra Jet Registry. It again garnered attention when featured in Hemmings in 2018, further solidifying its place as a remarkable vehicle with a noteworthy legacy.

These 1968 Mustangs, born from Ford’s pursuit of racing excellence, continue to captivate with their power, history and enduring appeal. They serve as a testament to the innovation, passion and timeless allure of American muscle cars, taking their rightful place in automotive lore. For a chance to make it yours and own a piece of Mustang history, register to bid today.

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By: Barrett-Jackson
Title: AN ORIGINAL LIGHTWEIGHT: This 135-Code 1968 Ford Mustang 428 CJR was an NHRA Knockout
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Published Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2023 22:14:15 +0000


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