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Cobra stands out

Monday, 10th July, 2017

Roger Crawford in front of his Ford Falcon Cobra at a car show in the city last year. Roger Crawford in front of his Ford Falcon Cobra at a car show in the city last year.

ROGER Crawford has been a car nut since “year dot” and while a long line of cars have entered his life, only one remains.

The former Broken Hill car salesman first set eyes on a Ford Falcon Cobra when travelling back to Broken Hill after a car-buying trip to Melbourne.

He stopped into the Mortimer Ford dealership in Mildura, and spotted a promotional photograph of Ford’s latest offering. 

“I decided right then and there I wanted one,” Roger said. “I got back to Broken Hill and rang around all the Ford dealers in Adelaide, found what I wanted and bought it, bang.”

The Cobra was actually a bit of an afterthought for the Ford Motor Company, and it would not have seen the light of day had Henry Ford’s great grandson not intervened.

The year was 1978, the company was preparing to launch the XD and they had an oversupply of XC body kits.

Ford’s sales and marketing gurus put their heads together and suggested they make a special all black “Playboy” model with a lush interior punctuated by “Playboy Bunny” decals. 

But this bright idea got knocked back because it didn’t fit with Ford’s overall pitch to families.

Enter Edsel Ford.

He pitched the Cobra, and while there were some reservations about projecting an American image, the carmaker’s hierarchy felt compelled to run with it.

“His name is on the front of the building, so perhaps we should go along with it,” one executive was quoting as saying afterward.

Ford only made 400 of the two-door hardtops.

Roger got number 38.

It cost him just over $10,000 at the time. To buy one like Roger’s today in mint condition, you wouldn’t get much change from $200,000.

“I put Dad into it and he drove it up until 1990,” said Roger, who owned Roger Crawford Motors in Bonanza Street, where Flat Out Tyres is today.

Roger then put the car in storage for about six years until 1996, and when he pulled it out he “went right through it”.

“I did everything, rubbers, fuel lines, brake lines ... there was very little damage on it.

“It had done 121,000 kilometres when it went into the shed, it has now done 132,000 or so ...”

Roger actually had two of them at one stage, but decided to keep a hold of number 38 because of its rare combination of features.

Of the 400 made, 200 had a “small” 302 or 4.9 litre motor. The other 200, including number 38, packed a 351 or 5.8 litre engine.

Number 38 gets a bit of road time every now and then. Roger enters it in car shows regularly, and it’s still winning awards and bringing back great memories for punters.

“I drive it to shows, I don’t trailer it, I like to drive it,” Roger said.

“I just come back from Mildura and won a trophy ... it’s won quite a lot of prizes.”

In his younger days, Roger drove dirt track race cars: a Falcon XW and two Mustangs. He still has the motor he used in the back of his shed, and it still works.

Roger’s always been a Ford man, but he does admit to owning a Valiant for three weeks. He claims he used it to do some wheeling and dealing and get another Ford. 

Roger is content with the Cobra at the moment, but he said if he had a bucket of money he would take a serious look at a 1968 Mustang.

But he wouldn’t trade the Cobra for it. 

“The blue and white look, they stand out so well on the road.”

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