Ford was mighty proud of its new 428 CJ powerplant and commissioned this cutaway engine in early 1968. Now, keep in mind that this was done in the days before the invention of the CNC machine. Ford cut the heads and block using a basic band saw and common hand tools. The crankshaft, connecting rods, main caps, valves, and just about every nut and bolt on it were chrome plated. Flash and casting marks were ground off all the cast-iron pieces, including the heads, block, bellhousing, and water pump. The block and all the cast-iron pieces were then polished, and the cast-iron pieces were copper plated to seal their porosity. Any problem areas on the block that stood out were covered in plastic body filler and re-worked until they were smooth as glass.
The cutaway Cobra Jet engine debuted with the new 1968-1/2 Cobra Jet Mustang. While the car itself rotated on a turntable, the engine was placed to its left side, “running” courtesy of a 12-volt electric motor. The engine toured the country throughout 1968 and 1969. In 1970, the engine was upgraded with cutaway finned aluminum Cobra Jet valve covers.
In 1971 or 1972, the cutaway CJ was donated to the auto shop at Ponca City, Oklahoma’s Pioneer VO Tech and was used for a number of years in its auto shop classes to demonstrate the workings of an internal combustion engine. However, with the emergence of dual overhead cams, electronic ignitions, and fuel injection, the CJ was put in storage.
“That’s when I became involved with it,” says Ford collector and historian Rick Kirk of Ripley, Oklahoma. “It took 23 years of negotiating with the school before I was finally able to get my hands on this engine.