Rare 1968.5 Ford Mustang Coupe Flexes a Performance Option We All Love

Introduced in 1964 as an affordable pony car with relatively powerful engines, the Ford Mustang morphed into a full-blown muscle car in the late 1960s. By 1968, the 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) small-block was joined by the 390-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) FE V8, which delivered a solid 325 horsepower in four-barrel form. More importantly, the Mustang also gained a larger 428-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) mill halfway through the model year.
1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code 10 photos
Photo: American Mustangs/YouTube
1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code1968.5 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet R-Code
Rated at 335 horsepower and 440 pound-feet (597 Nm) of torque, the engine was given the R code on the options list. But it's more famously known as the Cobra Jet. Offered until 1971 in both Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet forms, it's the second-most powerful V8 you can find in the first-generation Mustang. The other one is the 429-cubic-inch Boss unit offered in 1969 and 1970 for homologation purposes.

The Cobra Jet was quite a popular option at the time, being ordered on 18,049 Mustangs from 1968 through 1970. Or almost 21,500 units if we also include the Shelby models. And no fewer than 13,261 examples were sold during the 1969 model year. In 1968, however, only 1,299 'Stangs were ordered with the 428 V8, which makes the 1968.5 Cobra Jet the rarest of them all.

Granted, 1,299 is not an incredibly low number, but narrowing it down to body styles reveals a couple of extremely rare versions. You see, most customers opted for the Sportsroof (fastback) model, which left the factory in 1,044 examples. Only 34 orders requested the 428 Cobra Jet in the convertible, and only 221 buyers went with the coupe. Both are quite rare to find nowadays since not all of them soldiered on in one piece to 2023.

The black-striped Candy Apple Red Mustang you see here is one of the lucky ones, having been restored to original specification sometime in the 2000s. Come 2023, and it looks outstanding inside and out, rocks its numbers-matching 428 Cobra Jet V8, and it's a rare gem that's likely worth six figures.

Sure, most enthusiasts favor the sleeker fastback body over the coupe, but I think this body style looks tremendous on the 1968 Mustang. And while it's rare by default at only 221 units built in this layout, this specific R-Code is also an automatic car, which narrows it down to a little more than 100 examples. If that's not rare enough for you, the optional power steering and factory console turn it into a one-of-one gem, according to the Marti report that comes with it.

But of course, it's the 428 Cobra Jet engine that makes this Mustang desirable. And while it might not be as potent as the 429 Boss, it's powerful enough to send the coupe down the quarter-mile in about 14.3 seconds. No wonder owners are still taking them to the drag strip on Sundays for Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race (PSMCDR) events.

This Candy Apple Red beauty isn't hitting the drag strip in the video below, but you can hear its Cobra Jet mill idling, which is the next best thing. Hit play and crank up the volume.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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