|My son Scott, who was 14 when we started this project, is infatuated with cars (as many teenage boys are). One of the career options he has expressed interested in is automotive engineering. Fortunately, he has the mechanical aptitude and math skills to be very good at it. But since I've never worked on my own cars, he's never had an opportunity to see how cars are really put together.
My wife suggested that we get an old car and try restoring it, but I thought it would be a lot more fun to build a high performance sports car from a kit. I've always been interested in the mid-60's Cobra built by Carrol Shelby, and I had seen a number of replicas that were very impressive. So, after a couple months of research, we put a deposit on a kit car chassis and body and started the project in earnest. Our Cobra journal will be an ongoing account of our progress.
The original Cobra 427 was produced from 1965 to 1968, but only about 350 cars were produced. The phenomenal performance of these cars came from the marriage of the nimble handling of a lightweight British roadster and the awesome power of a Ford big-block V8. When Shelby and crew moved on to other projects (working with Ford on the Mustang, etc.), the Cobra became an ideal car for automobile enthusiasts to copy. It is a relatively simple car, yet delivers breathtaking performance. Dozens of kit car companies have produced over 40,000 Cobra 427 replicas over the past 30+ years - it is by far the most popular kit car design.
When choosing a Cobra kit from the dozen or so companies currently producing them, the first decision we had to make was what was most important to us - the key attributes are price, authenticity, quality, and performance. We decided to rank these attributes in reverse order. Our goal is to build a car that is reminiscent of the original but that leverages modern technology to deliver the highest performance, safety and reliability. As such, our car will not be inexpensive (see costs), but should deliver performance that is arguably the equal of any road car available.
We selected the JBL Motorsport Roadster kit (see our journal for details of our decision). JBL is a small Cobra kit company in southern CA that has delivered relatively few cars. But we were impressed with the quality and sophistication of the chassis and liked the principals we met. Richard Hudgins, the car's designer, has been very helpful in our engine design and also actively participates on the ClubCobra forum helping others with their cars (almost none of which are JBLs). We elected to go with a "stage 2" kit, which includes most of the components necessary to complete the car except for the drivetrain (engine, transmission, driveshaft, etc.), hoses, fasteners, etc, and has some of the more complex chassis and suspension assembly done by the factory.
We are being a little more adventurous with the engine. We purchased a stroked 351W short block and are doing the rest of the engine component selection and assembly ourselves (with some guidance from Richard Hudgins of JBL and others). My engine design page provides a fairly thorough overview of the issues we considered in selecting components for the engine.
Other Cobra builders and enthusiasts have already been very helpful and I'm sure will continue to be. This is a fun and exciting project not only because we're learning a lot, but also because it's giving us a chance to meet many friendly people that share a similar interest.
Contact me at jay (at) velotech.com