Electric Mustang Cobra Jet dragster fries the quarter-mile

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Run silent, run fast.

Ford introduced its first-ever electric dragster Friday, the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype, as the pony sub-brand expands its cred in the battery-powered world. The 1,400-horsepower Cobra Jet will stealthily shred a quarter-mile drag strip in just over 8 seconds, said Ford, while hitting a top speed of 170 mph. 

The Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 is the brand's first electric dragster.

Similar to Chevrolet’s eCOPO Camaro electric dragster, the Cobra Jet 1400 is expected to do exhibition runs this fall at National Hot Rod Association drag meets. The eCOPO has clocked a 9.8-second quarter-mile. Electric dragsters are an anomaly in NHRA where fans congregate to see ground-shaking, flame-throwing gas beasts do battle.

The Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 EV can hit 170 mph in just over eight seconds.

The Cobra Jet 1400 comes in a year when Mustang will deliver its first-ever electric production vehicle, the Mach E, as it goes head-to-head with the Tesla Model Y in the compact SUV space.

“Ford has always used motorsport to demonstrate innovation,” said Ford icons global chief Dave Pericak. “Electric powertrains give us a completely new kind of performance and the all-electric Cobra Jet 1400 is one example of pushing new technology to the absolute limit.”

Cobra Jet is a familiar name to drag-racing fans as Ford’s customer offering in the NHRA Factory Stock class since 1968. Most recently, Ford introduced the 5.2-liter, 1,000-plus horsepower 2018 Mustang Cobra Jet to honor the car’s 50th anniversary. The gas-powered Jet competes against other fossil-fueled beasts like cross-town rivals Chevrolet Camaro COPO and Dodge Challenger Drag Pack.

The Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 is like the familiar Cobra Jet Factory tock dragster -- only battery-powered.

Notably, the Cobra Jet EVs specs are close to its gas sister which holds the NHRA Factory stock quarter-mile record of 7.7 seconds at 176 mph.

Credit the electric dragster's eye-popping 1,100-plus pound feet of electric torque. The production Tesla Model S is notorious for causing dizziness under acceleration, so immediate is its 723-torque launches. The Cobra Jet is sure to cause more brain pain.

"This project was a challenge for all of us at Ford Performance, but a challenge we loved jumping into,” said Ford Performance Motorsports director Mark Rushbrook. “We saw the Cobra Jet 1400 project as an opportunity to start developing electric powertrains in a race car package that we already had a lot of experience with, so we had performance benchmarks we wanted to match and beat right now."

The electric dragster is sure to give onlookers a break from the ear-drum rattling noise of gas rocket ships. That is, if it can find an open drag strip this fall. The NHRA season is currently under COVID-19 shutdown and local Michigan drag strips like Milan have locked their gates to racing.

The Ford Mustang Cobra Jet EV 1400 will do the 1/4 mile in just over eight seconds.

When the 'Stang does hit the strip, it will have its sights on the Camaro eCOPO that Chevy introduced in 2018. Chevy, too, is determined to advance its electric bona fides with the Chevy Bolt EV.

The eCOPO's battery drivetrain boasts more than 700 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet posted a 9.8-second quarter-mile last year. If the new Mustang performs as well as Ford says it does, it could break the National Electric Drag Racing Association (separate from the NHRA) stock record set by drag racer Patrick McCue, whose modified "Shock and Awe" dragster broke the tape at 8.3 seconds at 166 mph.

For now the Cobra Jet 1400 is a one-off exhibition car with no plans for customer deliveries like the $130,000 gas-powered Cobra Jet.

Ahead of the Cobra Jet 1400's dragstrip debut this fall, fans can catch a sneak peek April 26 on MotorTrend On Demand’s “Hard Cell,” a showcase for innovative EVs.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.