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John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

A snake in a fox’s body

John Portello can still smell the oil-soaked dirt from the small gas station and garage down the street from where he grew up. He built model cars before grafting together a homemade go-kart at the age of 12. He joined the military after high school, and it was in Germany where he saw his first 1964 1/2 Mustang. He’s owned everything from Oldsmobiles and Dodges to Subarus and a few Jeeps, but he always seems to gravitate toward Fords because of their racing results and friends with common interests.

In January 1994, John’s friend bought a 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra—the last year of the Fox body and the first for the SVT Cobra.

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

John Portello's 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra

Fast forward to 1995 and John put his first Mustang in his stable, the red Cobra from his friend with a mere 1,200 miles on it because he liked the body style.

Over the last 23 years John’s upgraded it with Baer brakes—it was the first car to get one of that company’s four-lug big brake kit—a full interior roll cage, five-point harnesses, and a cam.

MUST READ: History of the Ford Mustang GT

But it’s the bright-red color, one of only 414 red-on-gray 1993 Mustang Cobras, that matters to John.

Everyone needs to own a Mustang as ownership gets you into a close-knit group that is “like family,” John says.

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

A shaken snake

Victor Weitzel’s automotive passion came from his dad, a classic hot rodder from the ‘50s who used to race stock cars at the old Portland Speedway. He and his brother Jim would help with the race cars from the time they learned what a 9/16 wrench was. Pontiacs were his first love in the muscle-car scene, his appreciation for Fords and the Mustang came later. Since 18 years old, he’s always owned some form of a Pontiac A-body and today he still has a 1967 GTO along with a 1969 restomod Firebird convertible.

His first blush with a Mustang started when his father rented a 1969 model for a trip to the Oregon coast. He remembers sitting in the back seat and looking out the quarter window. “This is so cool!” he thought.

In 2001, Victor read the Fresno Bee on a Sunday morning when he came upon a classified ad for a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1. He called the number in the ad and the woman on the other end of the line said the car was a graduation gift from her father.

When he got to see it in person, he realized it was factory, down to the hubcaps. The Mustang bug bit—it bit hard—despite an hourlong interrogation by the owner regarding his intentions. It was his.

In 2008 Victor went searching for something more modern to drive daily. Something with some creature comforts and better reliability.

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

Victor Weitzel's 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra

“I figured it would end up being a 6-cylinder coupe given the budget,” he said, but he found a 1999 Cobra on eBay in September 2008.

Listed for $13,500 with only 58,000 miles on it, he wasn’t sure if it was real. After the auction ended and the car failed to sell he contacted the seller, struck a deal, and picked it up.

The shaker hood, which wasn’t an option for this particular car, came off a 2003-2004 Mach 1. The previous owner put it on, and for Victor, it set the car apart.

Owning a Mustang is “about as much fun as you can have while having your clothes on,” he says.

“With the GT350, and GT500 coming, it’s all coming back to the supercar and muscle car wars.”


 
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