Ford Mustang Cammer – The 60’s Ultimate American Muscle Drag Car
American muscle cars have rarely been more American
American muscle cars have rarely been more American or indeed, more muscular than the Ford Mustang. Many generations of the legendary ‘pony car’ have been built since the 1960s, and it was in many ways the car’s debut decade when it came to acquire its most iconic status. That has much to do with the straightforwardly-named Ford Drag Team and an engine – the overhead-cam 427 V8 – that has become so strongly intertwined with myth and legend as to now simply be known as the ‘Cammer’.
When, in 1961, Ford Division’s then-vice president and general manager had a vision of a car that would seat four people in bucket seats, incorporate a floor-mounted shifter and be no more than 180 inches long, while also selling for no more than $2,500, few could have conceived the legend that would subsequently be unleashed.
The Mustang’s beginnings may have been unassuming enough – the first model rolled off the assembly line on 9th March, 1964 and shared many of its components, including most of the drivetrain, with the Falcon – but what followed was one of the great motorsport stories.
The Ford Drag Team, Mustang and Cammer – the dream combination
When we talk about the ‘Ford Drag Team’ in reference to the SOHC 427 Mustang, we really do mean the Ford Drag Team – as of 1969, there was no external team, as the team was the factory itself. More specifically, responsibility for racing lied with Car Corporation, a special operations division based in Livonia, Michigan that worked directly for Ford Motor Company.
Then, there was the not-insignificant matter of that engine. The SOHC – single overhead-cam big block – known as the 427 Cammer had been introduced in 1964 as Ford’s answer to the Chrysler 426 Hemi in stock car racing. However, NASCAR banned Ford’s new hand-built racing motor on the basis that it had not been installed in a production car, and therefore homologated for competitive use.
It was therefore left to Ford to find a new niche for the engine, which turned out to be in professional drag racing, where it found service in various Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. Although by 1969 and 1970, Ford had turned its attentions to selling Boss 429s and 428 Cobra Jets, the Cammer era in motor racing had not yet come to a close. Indeed, the engines remained a major attraction, in part due to their use in especially exotic racing machinery such as Dyno Don Nicholson’s nitro-burning Funny Cars and Connie Kalitta’s Bounty Hunter.
So, by the time 1969 rolled around, the Cammer had a fearsome drag racing image that the Blue Oval couldn’t resist tapping into in its creation of the SOHC 427 Mustang, of which only two were ever built.
A short but memorable competition life
The SOHC 427 may have only lasted in drag racing for a few years, but the story of the ’69 Cammer Mustang is nonetheless one that will not be forgotten by many motorsport fans – not least on account of the classic livery, of blue with white stripes, donned by the Ford East Coast Drag Team for its ’69 Mustang match racers.
Both Mustangs were driven by the team’s captain, Hubert Platt, although the team also used a ’69 428 Cobra Jet and a Torino with a 428 Cobra Jet engine, both for Super Stock. 1969 and 1970 were heady days for drag racing, and Platt’s Mustang racer, running low 10s at 135mph, was one of the dragstrip’s major draws, particularly in the South. Car Corporation also looked to make the most of the associated marketing opportunities, by arranging for the Drag Team cars to travel to dealerships across the United States for seminar appearances during the week.
In the years when the American Baby Boomer generation was in its prime, screaming teenagers would turn up to best-of-three match races to see who out of Platt or a rival – such as Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins or Ronnie Sox – would come out on top. Such was the popularity of the ’69 match racers that the following year, the NHRA even devised a new Pro Stock classification for them.
With Ford continuing to fund the Drag Team for 1970, instead of using a ’70 Mustang, it simply updated the ’69 with new fenders and two grille headlights instead of four, to give it the resemblance of the new model.
Take your chance to experience the Mustang’s astounding power
The Mustang nameplate may have gone on to ever-greater success on both the roads and the race tracks, but for many people, the very word ‘Mustang’ will always conjure up associations with the finest in old school American muscle – and of course, when it comes to ‘old school’, you just can’t beat the late ’60s and early ’70s Mustang.
That’s why, for our own Ford Mustang Driving Experience package here at U Drive Cars, we use a classic model of this fabled pony car with no shortage of impressive performance specifications, including a maximum power output of 290bhp, a seven-second 0-60 time and a maximum speed of 125mph. The experience is priced from just £99 and incorporates not just six laps behind the wheel of the Mustang, but also such perks as a shared circuit tour and a commemorative certificate on completion.
You will also receive a tea or coffee on arrival and your children, friends and family are welcome to spectate at no extra charge. While we sadly aren’t able to hand you the wheel of the SOHC 427 Mustang itself, the rear-wheel-drive, 5.8-litre V8 powerhouse that we can offer is certainly no poor substitute!