Black Beauty: Dave Robinson

Black Beauty: Dave Robinson’s 1969 Cobra Jet Mustang

Drag racing provides a great deal of sensory and emotional stimulation. The emotional side of drag racing comes results from the attachment to a certain racer or the feelings the sport provides to one, while the sensory stimulation emits from the sound of the engines, the sights of cars making passes, and the smell of burning rubber and race fuel. Dave Robinson is drawn to drag racing by the positive emotions he gets from the sport and from the sensory experience his 1969 Cobra Jet Mustang provides.

The fascination with the Ford brand began when Dave was merely a teenager. There was just something about Ford automobiles that really captured his imagination and made him want to own one. Over the course of many decades, that attraction has only grown stronger, leading to the purchase of more high-performance blue oval products.

“I’ve got a total of five Mustangs that I’ve owned for years. I’m just a Ford guy through and through. When I was young I worked at a SOHIO service station and the owner of the station had a 1967 Mustang. He would take me for rides around town with the headers open and that was such a thrill. That car just made me a Ford fan; between the appearance and performance, that’s what drew me to the brand. I actually ended up buying that ’67 Mustang from the owner of the station and it’s the car I still have it 50 years later,” Dave says.

The fastback Mustang Dave purchased from the service station owner was a 390 “S” Code car with a four-speed transmission. Dave also owns a ’65 Mustang that received a 5.0 EFI engine swap, a ’97 Mustang GT, an ’07 Shelby GT, and his of course ’69 Cobra Jet. All of these cars have one important thing in common: they’re all black-on-black,…that’s the only way Dave likes his Mustangs.

I’ve got a total of five Mustangs that I’ve owned for years. I’m just a Ford guy through and through. – Dave Robinson

Out of his collection of Mustangs, Dave’s favorites are his classics — they bring back great memories and help him remember why he got involved with racing so many years ago.

“There’s something about classic performance cars that I love. They have such a different feel to them when you close the door. That’s just one of the things that stands out. Inside, they transport you back in time when they still have the original interior with their appearance. The cars even have a different smell than a new car. It’s just so hard to explain, but it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed,” Dave states.

Dave’s interest in drag racing stems from a friend he ran around with when he was just 18 years old. Dave’s friend was driving a 10-second Camaro, a fast car for that period in time, and that pushed him into an obsession with the sport. The mixture of having a big interest in cars and drag racing proved to be a powerful cocktail that Dave couldn’t get enough of, and still can’t to this day.

“I’m attracted to drag racing, by the theatrics of the entire sport. I enjoy the competitive side of things, what goes into the entire raceday experience, and being at the track with others who enjoy the sport. The big thing that really gets me going is just the noise of the engine — it’s such a cool thing to be inside the car when the engine is cackling. It just makes it fun,” Dave explains.

The car that makes the most noise for Dave’s enjoyment currently is his ’69 Cobra Jet Mustang, seen here. Dave acquired this car back in 1995 when he saw it for sale in someone’s front yard just 5-miles from his house. The car checked every box, and so he purchased it. After some additional research, he learned his new Mustang had an extensive racing history.

“The car was originally ordered by Downtown Ford in Canton, Ohio and they raced it for several years. It came to them as a 428 Super Cobra Jet with the drag pack option, a C6 automatic transmission, and was Grabber Blue. The car passed through several owners over the years before I got it. When I purchased the car the Super Cobra Jet engine was gone but it had a ’68-1/2 428 Cobra Jet engine in it — that’s what engine is still in the car today. I’ve still got the original invoice and build sheets from Ford for the car,” Dave says.

According to Dave, the original invoice shows the car’s price was $3,268.36 new when it arrived at the dealer. The drag pack option was $122.95, the 428 cubic-inch engine added $332.00 to the invoice, and the special Grabber Blue paint cost an additional $10.70.

While the original engine was gone, nevertheless, a Ford engine was still going to live between the fenders of his car. Ron Robert built the Mustang’s current 428 cubic-inch engine using an original Ford block. Inside, an Eagle cast crank swings a set of Eagle H-beam connecting rods and Diamond pistons. The rotating assembly gets its lubrication from a Melling oil pump that draws fluid from a Canton oil pan.

The top end of the engine features a set of 72cc Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads that are filled with Ferrea valves. The rest of the valvetrain is centered around a custom Cam Motion camshaft with solid roller lifters from Crower and a Coyles billet roller timing chain. The Holley 1050 Dominator carburetor sits on top of an Edelbrock Victor intake. Providing the fuel for the engine is a single Magnafuel fuel pump that works with a Magnafuel fuel pressure regulator. The big-block Ford receives ignition from an MSD 6AL box, MSD coil, and MSD billet distributor. When the engine roars to life all of the exhaust gasses are expelled through a set of Ford Powertrain Applications Tri-Y headers.

Cyclone Transmission was tasked with building the Ford C6 transmission that works with a Neal Chance Racing Converters torque converter. Keeping with the all-Ford theme, Dave uses a Ford 9-inch rearend that features Moser Engineering 31-spline axles and 4.86 gears that work with a Moser spool. The rearend is attached to the Mustang via a ladder bar suspension and QA1 shocks to keep the Mickey Thompson slicks planted to the track’s surface.

The 428 Cobra Jet engine also drew me to the car, I’ve been a fan of this engine since I was young. – Dave Robinson

The front suspension of the Mustang utilizes a set of stock lower control arms that have been boxed-in for strength. Koni coil-over MacPherson-style struts take care of the front dampening duties. A full set of Wilwood brakes are tasked with bringing the Mustang to a halt after each pass. Dave added WELD Pro Star wheels to give the Mustang the right look and, of course, they are black to match the paint.

There wasn’t much bodywork that needed to be done to the Mustang when Dave purchased it; the only change made to the exterior are a fiberglass cowl induction hood and a Maier Racing front spoiler. Of course, Dave had to make sure the car was the right shade of black and have a matching black interior to go with the rest of his Mustangs. Dave’s Mustang isn’t just a pretty face — it has run a best of 10.70 in the 1/4-mile at 126 mph.

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Dave races his Mustang any chance he gets, and has even made it all the way to the final round at a big event.

“When Ford put on the Fun Ford Weekends I went to the finals in the King Ford class at the Bristol event, racing another 1969 Mustang, so that was pretty cool. Even though I didn’t win the entire experience was just a lot of fun and something that I’ll never forget,” Dave says.

One of the things Dave enjoys the most about his Mustang is the fact you don’t see many of this particular body style at the track. He also likes being a diehard Ford racer that carries the banner of the brand no matter what event he goes to. Plus, the car just brings a smile to his face every time he starts it up.

“I’m proud of fact that you just don’t see a lot of these body-style Mustangs being raced at the track. The 428 Cobra Jet engine also drew me to the car, I’ve been a fan of this engine since I was young. Driving the car is a blast, from the time I sit down in it and fire it up, until the end of the run I have goosebumps. I could just sit there as the car idles or rev it and be the happiest guy around. It’s a magnetic attraction to the entire experience of owning a race car. It’s very hard to put into words the emotions and feelings I get when I race this car,” Dave says in closing.

Dave Robinson has found a way to channel his Ford fandom into one amazing Cobra Jet Mustang. This car brings him so much happiness through its classic looks and raw power, making it his dream car. When you see Dave at the track, don’t be surprised if he has a grin from ear to ear, because that’s exactly what this Mustang does: it makes him smile.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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