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Cobra Jet Book Review: A Fascinating Chronicle of Ford’s 428 Legacy

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Today, we know Ford’s performance capabilities through the Mustang’s legendary reputation and its famous iterations like the Shelby GT500. However, Ford wasn’t always a “cool” brand beloved by young thrill-seekers and trendy joy-riders. Its performance at the track was mediocre, and that didn’t translate to high public sales of its sporty models.

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Throughout the 1960s, Ford’s Total Performance racing program worked hard to change that image, and the brand made history with the debut of the 428 Cobra Jet-equipped Mustang in 1968.

Automotive experts and experienced writers Rob Kinnan and Diego Rosenberg team up to chronicle the revolutionary impact of the Cobra Jet in their new book, Cobra Jet: The History of Ford’s Greatest High-Performance Muscle Cars.

Cobra Jet:
The History of Ford’s Greatest High-Performance Muscle Cars
By Rob Kinnan & Diego Rosenberg

Product Details: Hardcover, 192 pages, 10″ × 10″
Retail Price: $44.95 USA
Publication Date: March 2020
ISBN: 987-1-61325-378-6
Publisher:  CarTech Inc.

Cobra Jet: Book summary & review

Cobra Jet book review Rob Kinnan Diego Rosenberg Ford muscle car history CarTech contents
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The Cobra Jet engine wasn’t around for very long, and it may not even be a name you recognize if you’re not a Ford expert, but its influence on the brand and the American performance segment deserves an exhaustive examination. Its next-level engineering and reputation among racing aficionados brought the Mustang out of the shadow of the Camaro and made the pony car what it is today.

Although the arrival, heyday, and downfall of the Cobra Jet all took place within six years, Kinnan and Rosenberg’s Cobra Jet depicts the events and their effects with such thoroughness and insight that you’ll be an expert on the enhanced FE engine and its presence in the Mustang series.

The book is divided into 11 chapters, each brimming with pictures, quotes, interviews, and data from a particular year. The many high-quality photographs are a wide selection of images from MotorTrend archives, auction records, and private collections — all notated in great descriptive and informative detail. It even extends to the modern era, with the current revival of the Cobra Jet Mustang in light of its 50th anniversary.

The apex of the narrative — Chapter 5 — is a comprehensive tribute to the 1968½ Cobra Jet and its characteristics.

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As expected, the authors cover its debut at the 1968 NHRA Winternationals in 1968 in great detail, presenting in-person accounts like Al Joniec’s — one of the first people to drive the 428 CJ racer that day and who provided the foreword for the book.

Kinnan and Rosenburg go beyond the obvious and delve into the context of that event and what was going on behind the scenes, sharing rare accounts from participants, such as Bill Barr, who worked as an engineer on the vehicle. Both authors draw from their time at Hot Rod magazine, using transcripts of interviews and coverage during that time to provide first-hand perspectives from authorities like Eric Dahlquist and Bob Tasca Jr. As the editor of Mustang Monthly, Kinnan in particular offers a wealth of resources that saturate Cobra Jet with treasures you won’t find elsewhere.

Cobra Jet does an excellent job of immersing you in the proceedings by depicting its influence on a technical level, on a historic level, on a brand PR level, and on the level of a public spectator.

Even if you’re not a Ford expert or fan, you’re sure to appreciate the brand after reading Cobra Jet. A meticulous, engaging account of the events that led to and resulted from the arrival of the 428 CJ, this tome is a rewarding read for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Cobra Jet: The History of Ford’s Greatest High-Performance Muscle Cars is available through the publisher’s websiteAmazon, and other book retailers.

Product provided for review by the publisher.

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