Cobra

When I was in college (late eighties) my father and I built a replica of a 427 Shelby Cobra. Unlike today, there weren't many on the road and there were no Internet forums or build threads. You learned about things in magazines and called or sent a check for more information. I settled on ERA Replicas and that decision has stood the test of time.

I remember the delivery day well. A bunch of friends had dropped by and I was prancing around like a four-year old on Christmas morning waiting to open presents. When it finally showed up we pushed it into the garage. Out came the beer there was a lot of car talk and bonding. We eventually decided it was time to take the first construction step at which point my father and I got into an heated argument over which tool to use. 

Holy shit, you guys are never going to get this f’ing thing built.
— A good friend

Well we worked through that teenage father/son thing. I'm not looking forward to that phase with my son you know when dad goes from knowing everything to knowing nothing to at some point knowing an awful lot. Connor, you're smarter then me so how about I admit that I don't know everything and we skip the 'dad knows nothing' phase? My guess is that, like me, you'll just have to come to that conclusion yourself.

The Engine

The Ford 427 side oiler is a pretty rare engine. After doing a lot of research, I found a 1966 motor with original heads on the west coast. The picture is a scan of Polaroid that was snail mailed to me when we were sorting out the purchase yes, kids, that's how it was done in the old days. In any event it was bored 30 over, had a 428 stroker crank, radical cam and a high compression ratio. It was a pretty hot engine and it produced over 500 HP.

The initial insurance quote was insanely high and resulted in 'NFW' from dad. Apparently the actuaries didn't like that I was under 25, single, had no children and had several speeding tickets. If those weren't enough red flags, anything over 500HP back then sent up a huge flare. In the end, we shopped it and found a provider that probably didn't quite realize what it was.

 

The Danish Automotive Expert

That’s a really small engine for a sports car.
— Danish automotive expert

Nick, who my sister was dating at the time, dropped by to see the car. The side pipes had just come back from being ceramic coated and there were several of us struggling to get the headers bolted up and he made a bold statement.

There was no irony in his voice so every one looked at him to see if he was joking nope, that was his honest assessment. To be clear, it was a fully-dressed 1966 427 side oiler a Ford BIG block which requires the automotive equivalent of a shoehorn to squeeze it into the engine bay. In fact, I had to remove the passenger side valve cover to remove the battery (I later moved it to the trunk). The general consensus was that my sister needed to dump him ASAP. In the end they got married and had five beautiful girls. IMHO, the guy upstairs decided that Nick's "car" gene shouldn't be passed to someone that might actually build a car. He's a great guy, but I'm sure as hell not going to let him use any of the tools.

Construction

I'll have to see if I can dig up some old construction photos. As you can see below there's more wiring than you'd think for such a simple car. One must wonder if the Heineken had something to do with my confusion.

The guy with the glasses, Tom, was an old-school Air Force mechanic. He was retired but did lots of maintenance and fabrication projects for people. I spent a couple of summers working for him to earn money for the car and I learned all types of things.

He had an entire machine shop in his garage. You know the type... why go buy a low-grade galvanized bolt when I already have this stainless rod and we can just throw it in the lathe? I'm the one holding the fire extinguisher. I'm not sure if Tom was following proper Air Force SOP for an engine start or if he was worried about my plumbing skills.

 

Here are some pictures of the car in the 90's:

Mission Accomplished

It goes that without saying that one of the primary reasons for building a hot rod is to pick up women. In the picture to the left I'm taking a drive with Esmeralda Morais Chaves Da Silva (or Es for short) who I was dating at the time. When it comes to 'Es' my mom is always telling me that I married well.

She got off to a rocky start with the car. We were down at LBI (Jersey Shore before Snookie killed it) and she burned her leg on the side pipe. She asked one of my friends if they had any aloe a few minutes later she was screaming. They had given her aloe shampoo! In any event, they weren't invited to the wedding.

Engine Rebuild

I got busy with kids, running a company and a house. The car sat in my in-law's garage unstarted for ten years. After selling the company in 2014 I decided that it was time to get back to working on cars. I had the engine completely rebuilt and the Holly was replaced with Webber 48 IDAs.

Maintenance

  • Oil: Valvoline VR1 Racing Motor Oil (VV211)
  • Front Tire Pressure:
  • Rear Tire Pressure: