Raymond Halfyard's '81 Cobra
I still get blown away by all of the history involved in the cars I have the privilege of writing about. Stories that span decades sometimes, and have so many chapters over the years. Call me nostalgic, but I never get tired of hearing them. Raymond Halfyard's '81 Cobra has one of those great stories behind it, but I am getting ahead of myself.
What about this '81 Cobra you speak of? Was it fast? In a word; no. It would be another year before the 5.0L would be revived in the Mustang, so for '81 a wheezing 4.2L was the best that the Mustang faithful had to close from. Blistering the 1/4 mile in the mid eighteen second range, they weren't exactly setting the world on fire. With it's measly 115 horsepower (120 for California cars), asthmatic 2bbl carb, wimpy four speed trans, and fragile 7.5 rear end; it was a bleak time for Mustang enthusiasts. Luckily the dark ages were coming to close, and there was a significant light at the end of the tunnel.
Flashback to winter of '81, Raymond and his father were waiting for his brother to finish hockey practice, and his father suggested they stop by the local Ford dealer to see if there were any Mustangs for sale. Knowing the owner of the dealership, Ray's father inquired about their Mustang inventory, and were promptly led back to the service department where a fresh '81 Cobra sat. The car had just come in, and hadn't even been prepped for sale.
"I can still remember seeing the car sitting in the corner of the shop, it was white at the time" explains Ray. Needless to say, Ray's father bought the car; Ray was just eight years old. From '82 to '87 Ray remembers riding in the back seat as he cruised the car with his father and older brother. In '87 the car was parked for an engine swap by his older brother. Ray's brother lost interest in it before the car was finished, and it sat dormant until 1990. Deciding it was time to get busy again, Ray and his brother stripped the car to bare metal, and repainted it the factory red from that model year. Shortly after that Ray bought the car from his brother, and decided to put a big block and C6 trans in it. He also bought a wrecked '84 GT to swap over the interior and wiring, as the '81 was getting a bit long in the tooth. The car was nearly finished at this point, but once again, Ray lost interest in it. It was 1995 and Ray had gotten into the mini truck scene. Without even test firing the car, he moved on. The car was covered up in the garage, partially done.
Fast forward to mid 2013, Ray sauntered out to the garage, and pulled the cover back on the '81. The time had come, Ray was ready to finish the car. He called up his older brother, and a friend for help. They began by yanking out the big block in preparation for something more streetable. A forged 347 was built, and a Tremec trans was ordered to make it a fun driver. The paint was still in perfect condition, as the car had not seen sunlight since it was painted back in the '90s. Ever since, Ray has worked continuously on the car making upgrades, and finishing all the projects that had been abandoned so many years ago.
Having been started and not finished several different times, Ray had a ton of work to do. The interior, wiring, drivetrain, and so on had to be addressed. It would be another two years of late nights in the garage, and busted knuckles to finish the car. Determined to see it through, Ray soldiered on.
Early this year, the Cobra roared to life, and moved out of the garage under it's own power. Feeling the sun on its flanks for the first time in twenty nine years, this was a long time coming. Ray pulled the car onto the street, and roasted the tires. Done! "I am lucky to have my dad, recently he, my son, and I all took it to a car show", recalls Ray. Thirty years and three generations later, this '81 Cobra has a new lease on life. "This car will be in our daily forever, it will be passed down to my son someday", explains Ray. CR