Bob Tasca Sr. was born in 1928, and when he is just sixteen, he knew all about cars and was busy building his own cars, tuning engines, and doing the bodywork. In 1948, he went to work at a car lot in Cranston, Rhode Island, as an errand boy. Soon he got fed up with the small tasks and convinced the owner, Mr. Harry Sandanger, to give him some useful work.
According to Tasca, Sandanger had 70 used cars that were doing nothing but sitting here and there because they needed work. He went to Sandanger and made a proposal. Tasca took the responsibility to provide labor to get the cars running and Sandanger was supposed to provide all the tools and parts. Until a car is sold Sandanger doesn’t have to pay him a dime. Once a car sells, they were supposed to split the profit between them. 75% for Sandanger and 25% for Tasca. Eventually, Tasca made $26,000 while working on the cars. Sandager was pleased with the performance of Tasca and promoted him to supervise the reconditioning section. Eventually, he ended as the general manager of the company.
Harry Sandanger had been a member of the State House of Representatives, and got elected to Congress from 1939 to 1941. He kept taking all the money in the used car lot to spend on his election campaign, leaving Tasca with no money to purchase used cars or spare parts at all. He had to wait until a car is sold to pay the other dealer. Eventually, in 1953, Tasca had enough and left the joint to open his own dealership in Bristol, Rhode Island. This dealership had sold just 30 cars a year.
After Tasca came in and sold 126 cars in the first two months, but more than anything, he wanted to become a Ford dealer. So, he contacted Dearborn and ended up taking over a Bristol Ford dealership that had sold just 93 cars in the last three years. After Tasca moved in, they ended up selling 135 cars a year for the first two years. This got the Dearborn’s attention. However, everything got undone due to a category three Hurricane Carol in August 1954. This Hurricane leveled his dealership.
Ford offered him a new dealership near East Providence, Rhode Island. Tasca agreed to take over the dealership on a trial basis and by the end of September 1954, he had sold 144 cars. This got even more attention and love from the Dearborn.
Tasca became one of the biggest selling Ford dealerships in the country and Ford was curious about his massive success. So, the management at Dearborn asked Tasca how he become so successful, he told them the way that he put customers first and foremost. Tasca got to know Henry Ford II and in 1954, the Deuce himself offered Tasca a cool $3 million to work for Ford and to teach its employees how to sell the products. Bob Tasca agreed to teach them Ford employees of all his secrets but disagreed to take a dime for it. He wanted to do it for the company. Tasca told the Deuce to create and produce the right cars, so he could sell plenty of them to make money. Eventually, Tasca would train over 165,000 Ford employees on the right way to do business.
In the early 1960s, Chevrolet was dominating the automobile market with a massive share. To address this issue, he told the Deuce in 1962 to give his approval to create performance cars to compete with the Chevrolet. The Deuce approved the project
Tasca had started drag racing in 1962 with a 406 cubic inch V8 powered Galaxie 500. Galaxie 500 weighted too much to prove its success against its competition. Then he got a Fairlane which proved to be a little better. Tasca hired Bill Lawton to do the driving duty behind the wheels of his cars until 1971.
Armed with all the knowledge he got from the drag racing program, Tasca approached Ford and told him that they have to change their ways. The Deuce wanted to create track machines. Ford was in NASCAR building race cars, but those were brutal track machines and hardly anybody wanted them. Tasca told him that rather than spending millions upon millions in NASCAR hoping to sell some track machines to privately sponsored teams, it’s better to create a street performance car to attract a far wider audience.
Chevrolet debuted the Camaro in 1967, and from the beginning, it could be fitted with a capable 396 cubic-inch V8 engine. The Top-performing engine that the Ford Motor Company had at the time for the Mustang was a 390 cubic-inch V8 engine which wasn’t capable of competing with the 396 V8 powered Chevrolet Camaro.
Tasca noticed that with the introduction of the Camaro, Mustang sales were dropping considerably. The Camaro was more capable than the Mustang, but also far more reliable.
To address these issues, Tasca ordered his employees to figure out a way to increase engine performance. One of his employees had over-revved the engine in a 390 cubic inch V8 powered Mustang, resulting in a big amount of engine damage. So, Tasca’s high-performance team manager Dean Gregson worked with his team to replace the 390 engine with a 428 cubic-inch Police Interceptor engine. A pair of 427 low riser heads and a 735 cfm Holley carburetor was attached on top of the big-block engine. Inside the block was a 390 GTA hydraulic camshaft. This power-train was then christened as the KR8 and would make Ford History.
The Tasca Mustang closely resembled a Boss 302 with a custom paint job, but the Boss 302 was actually a balanced road car, the Tasca Mustang was a no-compromise drag racer.
Ford management didn’t take the engine at first until the press started to sing praises about it. What happened is, the technical editor of the magazine, Eric Dahlquist, heard that Tasca had created a new engine. While on a vacation, he visited the Tasca Ford to check the new engine to see what’s so special about it. He took his impressions back to Los Angeles and in the next magazine, he asked the readers if they would like to see Ford build the engine. The Hot Rod magazine, staffed by controversial hard to be pleased automotive reviewers, asked its readers to pressure Ford’s management to make the engine production happen. The overwhelming feedback convinced the Deuce to give his approval for the new engine.
In the meantime, Tasca used his influence with the Deuce to show the corporation what his shop had created. The engineering department already impressed with what they saw, and when the Deuce started to get letters asking to approve the production of the engine from the audience of the Hot Rod Magazine, it became a reality.
All engine work is done at Tasca to increase performance led to the creation of the Cobra Jet engine and Super Cobra Jet engines.
Tasca was also supplying over the counterparts to install themselves other than modifying the customer cars by the late 1960s, selling over $100,000 a month in performance parts alone. He had several performance packages that were specifically put together to approach more buyers with specific performance needs. Every package came with a money-back guarantee in case of not delivering the intended performance. In all his years in the performance business, he never gave a package away.
It is not known for many that, Tasca Ford dealership is the birthplace of historic muscle cars such as the Ford Cobra Jet, Thunderbolt, Tasca Street Boss, and Mystery race cars.
During the 1960s, the Tasca Racing team competed successfully for over a decade in NHRA stages, winning the Winter Nationals in Pomona, California and the Super Stock Nationals in 1965 with Hall of Fame driver Bill Lawton in the wheels.
With the beginning of the 1970s, rising insurance rates, increasing safety regulations, strict emission regulations, and fuel costs resulted in a huge lack of demand for high-performance cars. This eventually led the automobile manufacturers to change their tactics to provide the demands of the changing automobile market. Reluctant to compete on a drag strip on a vehicle that wasn’t consuming oil, Tasca felt that that production car dealership should compete with street racing machines, not vehicles propelled by alcohol or nitrous. After all, he was in the business to sell cars, not to win races.
In 2007, Shelby Performance and Tasca Ford announced a collaboration in which Tasca would become the East Coast headquarters for Shelby American. This collaboration is not only to get the operations going on but also to modify cars.
Even today, the Tasca performance heritage continues with the second and third generations of the Tasca family. Carl Tasca, Sr, Bob’s son, drives one of the fastest Ford Cobra Jets in the country. Bob Tasca III, Bob Tasca’s grandson, drives a Shelby Mustang Nitro Funny Car.