It's summertime in Detroit, and that means one thing: the Woodward Dream Cruise, a weeklong celebration of muscle cars, hot rods, classics and all things automotive. Automakers often take this opportunity to unveil some special products — and Ford's taken the lead this year with the debut of the 2018 Mustang Cobra Jet factory-built dragster.
This is the 50th Anniversary Mustang Cobra Jet, as well, with the first examples built in 1968 and used to propel the pony car to National Hot Rod Association racing glory. Forty years later, Ford restarted the program, offering highly modified but factory-built dragsters to select customers who use them for racing — the 50 cars Ford built in 2008 did not have vehicle identification numbers and therefore weren't street legal. Since 2008, Ford has built and sold 250 cars, bringing total historical production of the Cobra Jet to just 350 units.
The latest model is equipped with a beefed-up version of the Mustang GT's Coyote V-8 engine, bumped out from 5.0 liters to 5.2 and topped with a 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger. Ford isn't ready to tell us what kind of power this motor is producing, as it's still undergoing final certification (and the company needs some news to announce later this year at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas). That power goes to a 9-inch solid rear axle, held in place by two-way, height-adjustable coil-over shocks on a four-link rear suspension complete with anti-roll and Panhard bars.
Strange Engineering has provided the low-drag brake system to haul everything down to a safe stop, aided by a standard parachute, required for cars expected to top 150 mph in the quarter-mile. Further safety equipment includes standard NHRA-certified safety roll cage and two Racetech FIA-certified safety seats embroidered with the Cobra Jet 50th anniversary badge.
Ford says the new Cobra Jet, of which the company will make 68 in honor of the car's first year on the scene, will run a quarter-mile track in the mid-8-second range, and the parachute suggests that it will consistently turn in speeds well over 150 mph. You can have your Cobra Jet in one of only two colors: Oxford White or Race Red, with 50th anniversary graphics also available.
The starting price for the car is $130,000, and there really aren't many options to spec for this track-only monster. Ford expects the cars to be purchased by "gentleman racers" — read: wealthy enthusiasts who like to go drag racing on weekends and want a specially built vehicle to do it in. (Of course, I know a few gentlewoman racers who'd have something to say about that terminology.) And while that sounds like the same group of people targeted by Dodge with the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, it's really not — you can't drive a Cobra Jet to the track like you can with a Demon, as it's not street legal in the slightest. Like the ones before it, it has no VIN.
Ordering for the new Cobra Jet has already started, with deliveries expected to start late this year.
Editor’s note: This article was updated Aug. 17, 2018, to correct the model year of the 2018 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet.
Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.