sidebar article from AutoWeek magazine, 11 March 1996, page 4:
Former MiG factory now builds Cobra clones
So maybe when
Nikita Khrushchev said, "We will bury you,"
he really meant, "We will build
A factory in
Poland that formerly assembled Soviet MiG fighter jets, and now
builds fighters and cargo planes for the Polish Air Force, also
has something else rolling off the assembly line: Cobra clones.
true. Even stranger is the fact that the story begins not in
Poland, but in Provo, Utah, home of Kirkham Engineering. The
principals, David and Thomas Kirkham, are experienced Cobra restorers.
They are currently in the middle of a complete restoration of
one of their rare Cobra USRRC small-block race roadsters. The
Kirkham's 427 Street Cobra (CSX #3104) restoration is almost
complete, and enough genuine parts were available to partially
assemble a third.
work, the Kirkhams found a considerable amount of hardware readily
attainable--some good, some not, and most of it overpriced. What
they really needed was an accurate body and frame, as well as
key suspension components. If they had those, they could construct
something approaching the real thing--or at least a clone of
the real thing.
What the Kirkhams
ended up using was a sort of "reverse engineering."
They constructed an extremely thorough computer model of the
original 427, using CSX #3104 as a guide. To obtain the correct
body shape and dimensions, they digitized the body and built
the computer model from the cyber-ground up, including the frame
(with a "birdcage" for mounting the aluminum skin),
forgings, suspension components, brake hardware and differential.
the model from virtual reality to reality, the Kirkhams needed
a technologically advanced, quality-conscious facility. Enter
the Polish. The Kirkhams are less than forthcoming about how
they actually connected with the Polish plant, but here's a clue:
One of the brothers is a former U.S. Air Force engineer; their
father is a retired colonel.
In the end,
the Polish factory was a perfect choice. It's computer-literate,
has Soviet fighter aircraft technology and skilled labor. It
also has excess capacity since the crumbling of the Iron Curtain.,
not to mention a hunger for dollars.
of the Polish workers' labor is already borne--the photo here
shows a Cobra shell in Provo, just off the train, and fresh from
Poland. A pallet Cobra, as shown, can be had for $22,000. If
you want it complete (minus the engine, transmission and paint)--meaning
the suspension, wiring, fuel tank, differential, gauges, seats,
upholstery, everything--expect to pay under $50,000. Or about
one-tenth the price of the continuation Cobras Carroll Shelby
is building with the help of inmates at a Nevada prison. And
these are assembled with the high-tech computer imaging and arc
add that they're in the process of developing tooling in Poland
to do 427 cylinder blocks there, so engines can be installed
before the car is shipped to the United States.
this is merely the tip of an iceberg, and that you'll be hearing
more about this venture as it unfolds."--Wayne Scraba
For more product information and prices, contact us at:
West, 1680 North
Provo, Utah 84601 U.S.A.
or email us at sales@KM427.com
mention that you found us at our Cobra Country web site!
and Cobra are registered trademarks.
Kirkham Engineering is not connected to holders of these trademarks.
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me to the AutoWeek
article 1 ("Polish Peace Dividend")
me to the AutoWeek
article 2 ("Poles Apart")
me to the Wall
excerpts ("The Hot Rod That Came in from the Cold")