This is the race car fans never got to see on the track.
Everyone knows the story of how the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Charger Daytona absolutely dominated on high-speed tracks during their short reign of terror. And while Mopar fans will dangle in front of Ford fans that these aero cars ended the dominance of the Ford Talladega. The Blue Oval was planning to fight back with the Ford Torino King Cobra. The great Larry Shinoda head up the Torino King Cobra program and he had a fantastic team, which no doubt meant expectations were high for the outcome.
What was unique about Ford’s design versus the Mopar cars was there was no nose cone, which notoriously created cooling problems. Ford engineers opted to use a larger grille positioned closer to the ground at the lower half of that dramatically sloped front end, a design that was repeated later in more modern cars.
After stability problems during track testing , the decision was made to scrap the program. This meant only a few prototypes remained and you can see one “up close” in the video attached to this article.
There seems to be confusion among experts about how many prototype King Cobras were made. Some say there were only 3. Others say there were 4, one being a Mercury version which was found in an Indiana barn. The guys in this video claim there were 6. Thanks to a lack of meticulous computer records like what we have today, these kinds of automotive mysteries from back in the day are fairly common.
You can check out this car in the video and decide for yourself if it seems legit or not. It definitely is beautiful and interesting to see, and the owner says when he’s taken it to shows the car always causes a huge commotion.
Ultimately, Ford made the right decision by scrapping its Torino King Cobra program. When NASCAR changed its regulations, ending the era of the aero cars, Mopar was the one left scrambling to come up with a new solution. Still, one has to wonder what might have been had Ford gone ahead with this amazing car, perfecting the design, and NASCAR had left its regulations alone. We’ll never know, but it sure is fun to fantasize about.