Which is the better sleeper muscle car: the 1968 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet or the 1969 Hurst/Olds?
1968 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet
Although the 427 race engine had been briefly offered in the Mustang, Ford’s first widely available big block pony car was the Cobra Jet. By adding some parts from the 427 and a hood scoop intake to the 428 big block, they turned this big car engine into a monster. Officially rated at 335 horsepower to keep insurance costs low, the engine actually produced about 410 horsepower at the crank. Together with a stronger suspension, better brakes and bigger tires, it made for an ideal drag racer.
The stock car would do a quarter mile in 14 seconds, but in the hands of Ford’s factory racing team, it dominated the Super Stock class with times in the mid-11 seconds. Despite the added performance, the only visual cues separating the 428 from a GT is a hood scoop and a tape stripe. 2,800 were produced, making the car uncommon, but not overly rare.
When George Hurst put an 455 big block into his ’68 442, he was surprised at how easy it was and how the engine’s lightweight design maintained the car’s handling. Seeing the potential for this swap, he convinced Oldsmobile to build a production version that would feature his company’s shifters.
Oldsmobile only built 515 Hurst/Olds that year, but they had orders for many more. Since they knew the car would sell, Olds worked to better differentiate the ’69 model from the standard 442. Gold on white paint, a functional hood scoop and a big rear spoiler removed any pretense of the Olds’ reputation as an old people’s car, but it still offered all of the brand’s luxury features, including the option of an automatic transmission. With 380 bhp available, a stock car can do a quarter mile in 14 seconds flat, while adding drag slicks and better flowing headers can drop times into the 12 second range. With less than 1,000 built, they’ve been highly desirable since they first reached showrooms.
Verdict: 1968 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet
Both cars have about the same straight line performance from the showroom, but while Hurst/Olds may have seemed like an unlikely car to come from a near-luxury brand, it’s hard to argue with the Mustang’s combination of low-profile design and success at the track.
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