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Early supercars are a fascinating thing. The famous examples from the early days of NASCAR, like the Dodge Charger Daytona or the Plymouth Superbird, are rare but widely known. But what most people don’t know is that Ford built three prototypes to do battle with these legendary muscle cars. The Ford Tornio King Cobra could hit over 200 mph, but once it stopped, it looked like this:

Ford Torino King Cobra in yellow
Ford Torino King Cobra | Photos Courtesy of Mecum

What is the Ford Torino King Cobra? 

The Torino King Cobra car was undeniably cool. However, it never really existed. Ford Motor Co. started the project to end the domination of the Superbird and Charger Daytona. 

According to Silodrome, the Torino King Cobra came during a time when American automotive engineering had pushed cars about as far as we could. The curves on the NASCAR tracks proved to be tough to get around at speed without getting slipperier. 

The aerodynamics race pushed cars like the Superbird and Daytona to surpass 200 mph in the curves. Even though the MOPAR cars rose to stardom with cartoonish noses and spoilers, the Ford Torino Talledega used aero before these famous models in 1968. Once the Daytona and Superbird surpassed the Torino Talledega, Ford got to work on the King Cobra. 

Aside from the aero work, the Torino KC had a 429 cubic inch 370 bhp Cobra Jet V8 making 370 hp. Ford only made three prototypes. However, there is one with factory VIN heading to auction at Mecum

The King Cobra is faster’n hell and just as ugly

Prototype Ford Torino King Cobra
Ford Torino King Cobra | Photos courtesy of Mecum

For Homologation purposes, Ford picked the 1970 Ford Torino as the base for the King Cobra. Silodrome notes that most of the changes came from body modifications to get more aero. 

Although the Superbird and Charger Daytona influenced the design of the King Cobra, the “finished” project is a far cry from those other cars. The Ford Torino King Cobra is cool and all, but it is not a pretty car. 

If you only look at one section of the car at a time, it’s not so bad. However, the entire package looks a bit scattered and indecisive. The long slopping nose looks like it could have come off a Datsun Z car, the profile has a Trans-Am Firebird flavor to it, and the rear end has a late Mustang feel. While all of these are cool bits of automotive design, having all of them on one car feels a bit like a particularly wild Mr. Potato Head. Then coat that in a hot yellow, and here we have a very cool and very ugly car.

How much is a Ford Torino King Cobra worth? 

Profile view of the King Cobra
Ford Torino King Cobra | Photos courtesy of Mecum

The photos of the one we see here are an exceptional example because of its legitimacy in having a factory VIN, AC, power steering, power brakes, and even power windows. This is a real car, yet it never made it out of the prototype phase. 

This example is crossing the Mecum auction block in mid-May. It is expected to bring somewhere between $400,000-$500,000. 

The Torino King Cobra is a wonderful piece of automotive history, and its rarity makes it quite the treasure indeed. However, whoever buys it still has to look at it.


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