shot above is hotlinked (same image,
MUCH larger size).
If you've been
bitten by the snake, are hungering for the menacing melody of
a big-block 427FE NASCAR-targeted Ford V8if you appreciate
the lines of a period-correct and performance-correct reproduction
of the Cobra, then read on.
I originally titled my reproduction as a 1965 Cobra in California,
where it was built; later that year I moved to Colorado. Living
in Colorado has limited the driving experience and the car has
logged only ≈5,500 miles/≈8,850 km after 20
years. This beauty consumed 2-1/2 years of build time, which
was (in the main) employed saving for the next series of parts
and a meticulous attention to every detail. Desiring a street-friendly
ride, this Contemporary Cobra was built to replicate a
showroom-quality original Cobra rather than the full-race version.
A lower-compression dual-quad low-riser Offenhauser manifold
was selected along with a C-6 automatic transmission which was
strategically employed to tame the beast. My goal was to build
a show-quality car that, while authentic, could be safely driven
by family and friends.
some details about CCX33421:
cast-iron 427FE Ford center-oiler V8
photo is hotlinked (alternate view,
much larger size).
The engine embarked upon its
new serpentine life when I stumbled upon a very clean bare-block
early-1964 conventional oiler at Ford Power Parts in Norwalk,
California. As the build process proceeded, it was outfitted
- low-riser heads
- custom +.015" flat-top
- cast-iron crank & matching
- Crower mechanical cam [0.278" lift and
delivers a loping idle but smoothes out to a pleasant drive. If you've ever rebuilt a big-block
Ford you know the challenges of the chaos of springs & shims
in the valvetrain assembly. This setup was promptly jettisoned
and Ford Power Parts aluminum rocker arm assemblies were
- Edelbrock carburetors
- electronic distributor and
electric fuel pump were later substituted to boost reliability
The engine was accorded a great
deal of attention from the chrome & polish shop and is topped
with reproductions of the Cobra polished aluminum valve covers
and Holman & Moody air filter assemblies.
TRAIN, BRAKES, SUSPENSION
Having two big left feet and
an overriding objective for the car to be a friendly driver,
I opted for the rugged Ford C-6 automatic. As you may know, some
of the later-model original street Cobras were outfitted with
an automatic transmission, so I felt it didn't detract from the
serpent's authenticity. This C-6 went through numerous reiterations
before settling on the combination of RV clutches, an aftermarket
shift kit and a custom 10" Posiflow torque converter.
These modifications eliminated the neck jerking shifts and made
for a remarkably smooth transmission. On the other hand, if your
dream is slapping the shift lever of a 4-speed toploader, you
could easily make that conversion. Fortes Parts has all
the parts in stock (for $3,840) that you need to make a toploader
The donor car for the suspension
and rack & pinion steering was a 1969 Jaguar XKE/Series 2.
It's set up with 3.73:1 ratio third-member gearing, which provides
you with comfortable cruising. The suspension was cleaned and
assembled with Teflon bushings.
Koni shocks support the torsion bars on the front
independent suspension; four 400 lb. coil-over Aldans
hold up the rear. Although the rear axle feels stiff, the throttle
can definitely make the suspension squat & go! The 4-wheel
disk brakes are assisted by a Midland brake booster. The
polished aluminum gas tank added a nice touch and braided steel
was used for all fluid lines.
The suspension was assembled
to the Contemporary steel tube ladder frame with aircraft-quality
Allen bolts. The rear independent suspension with inboard brakes
is an impressive assembly very similar to the configuration on
the original reptiles; those inboards reduce 'unsprung weight'
and contribute to the car's precise handling.
shot above: hotlinked (alternate view,
MUCH larger size).
While building CCX33421
in southern California I would hang out frequently at Don Borders'
shopDon was the Contemporary dealer of that region.
Don built exquisite Cobra reproductions that were selling for
six figures in the late '80s. He let me observe and tutored me
in my project. When the car was ready for finish work, Don painted
several coats of lacquer onto the body that after 20 years still
exhibits a mirror finish.
The shops in San Diego that
did all of Don Borders' custom upholstery work also were also
utilized for this car. Jaguar Blue Connelly leather was
used to upholster the seats, dash & doors. Charcoal gray
Wilton Wool carpet was configured over padding and heat-insulated
cloth. A period-correct hardwood-rimmed steering wheel, correct
badging along with the LeMans gas cap was all a must.
Stewart Warner gauges were clustered to match the original
the Herculean torque meets the axles.
hotlinked (alternate view
of chassis, MUCH larger size).
eyeview of the rear undercarriage.
hotlinked (same view,
MUCH larger size).
superbly-engineered and rugged construction is a trademark of
Contemporary Cobra roadsters.
most other drivers will see of you in their rearview mirror.
hotlinked (same frontal
shot, MUCH larger size).
hotlinked (same view,
MUCH larger size).
PREMIUM REPTILE FOR TALLER AND
my neighbor Steve on the left.
hotlinked (alternate view/composite
photo shows you how much extra legroom
the altered (and single) pedal assembly provides for 6-2"
The reproduction Cobra-style knockoff wheels
and Firestone tires were added last summer and are even
hardly broken in.
Extra finishing touches
include the lamination of the hood scoop, along with surface-finishing
& painting of the bottom sides of the hood & trunk lid.
The header pipes were aluminized and the chambered sidepipes
had all the welds ground smooth and brilliantly chrome plated.
The wiper spuds are ornamental but could easily be connected
to a motor. I opted for the clean lines of no rollbar, but one
could easily be adapted. Then of course the final class touch
for my concept of the show Cobra was the use of the full loop
After winning a couple
of concours-quality awards at California shows, I became leery
of venturing into congested traffic. I have enjoyed the pride
of construction & ownership but never pursued the thrill
of punishing the beast. This authentic reproduction of a 1965
427 Cobra begs for a new owner who will release it onto winding
roads and tracks and let it reveal its spirited disposition!
from $53,900 for a prompt sale.
by phone at
(303) 718-XXXX MDT (cell)
Located in Denver,
January 2012: You
can mark that gorgeous white Contemporary 427SC, CCX33421, SOLD! Gone to Saskatchewan
and now the proud possession of a genuine Shelby enthusiast,
it'll provide him with miles and miles of smiles and motoring
thrills! And even with my good photos, he commented that those
photos still didn't communicate its true beauty; he even made
the comment that I had 'understated' its quality! Many thanks to
1) your superb Cobra photography tips (should be required reading
for every Shelby Cobra enthusiast), and 2) to Curt's recognizing
that my Cobra was "Canada-importqualified" and thus adding
that "Canadian-qualified" banner to my ad. That extra
measure snared the attention of several Canadiansincluding
my buyer. Here's wishing you all a GREAT 2012! Charlie Thompson
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