King Cobra: Uncrowned King of Muscle Cars


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Wouldn’t you know it? A 1970 Ford Torino King Cobra is selling for nearly half a million dollars. Unless you happen to be steeped in muscle car lore, you may be unfamiliar with this lost bastion of Ford grit, power, and growl.

Don’t feel too bad though – because even if you were alive and old enough to be burning tread at the end of 1969, you are probably just as likely to have missed this juggernaut – and you aren’t alone.

That’s because the Torino King Cobra never made it out of prototype status. In fact, the vehicle for sale at a dealership in North Carolina (of all places), is just one of three ever to roll off the line – which would explain it’s exceedingly rare status, it’s almost complete anonymity, and complimentary staggering price tag.

Long story short, the fate of the Cobra was sealed in part by a change in NASCAR regulations and a substantial drop in Ford Racing’s budget.

Originally destined to call NASCAR’s oval tracks home, bad production timing meant that this muscle car never even got the chance to put rubber to tarmac, never got to sting the driver’s nose with the acrid scent of combusted fuel – and if there’s anything sadder than that, I certainly couldn’t bear to hear it (to that point, do yourself a favour and try not to imagine the Torino King Cobra’s phantom growl as it peeled off the line – that will just put you in therapy).

Anyway, back in the 1960’s, NASCAR required that competing vehicles be wrought alongside a minimum of 499 automotive brethren, a limited production run to be sure. However, by the time the early 70’s rolled around NASCAR had beefed that production number up from 500 to 3,000. Couple that with a reduction in funding and other factors and effectively the world was almost deprived of ever knowing the Torino King Cobra even existed… almost.

Truth be told, we might still be oblivious to this impressive specimen of automotive engineering had Bud Moore, a NASCAR team owner not stepped up in the eleventh hour and purchased two of the original prototypes from the automaker before they could be relinquished to the junk heap in some sort of unfortunate offering to the automotive Gods.

So what did this muscle car have under the hood? You might as well read about it here because let’s face it; unlike your average Ford Mustang you won’t find it at your neighbourhood Ford dealer and you’re likely never going to have the opportunity to pop the hood and have a look-see for yourself.

Originally, the Cobra stocked a 460 cubic inch powerplant – but a restoration project that took place in the not too distant past saw a 429 V-8 dropped in in its stead. The gauge reads just over 43,000 miles – so we’d wager that this Ford’s got a bit of life in it yet, and that should make some lucky collector a very happy driver indeed.

Interestingly, the Ford Torino King Cobra is not the only member of the blue oval’s rank and file to flaunt a six-figure price tag this year.

Earlier this year, Ford announced the newest member of the GT family at the North American International Auto Show – the 2017 Ford GT – that also has an featured a price tag north of 400k.

Like the Cobra, this Super GT is slated for a limited production run, though admittedly the 2017 will have quite a bit more staying power. Ford is expected to produce at least 1,000 of the new supercars as they look to expand into newer (European) markets.

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