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Kirkham Motorsports

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 03-12-2012, 09:20 AM
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Default Bruce Cambern's 427 one owner Cobra

I was reminded of this car when I saw a picture of it, and am puzzled about its setup suspension wise and a few other things. When I saw the car at first I thought it was a replica because of non stock wheels. Now I know it is an original and that it is a winner in autocross events. Here's a couple questions.
I read it has an all aluminum side oilier, do they mean aluminum block? Also on another website they said he traded the original side oiler for a tunnel port side oiler.

Also one website said he has
"Fully custom made control arms with corrected chassis geometry" so that is a rouondabout way of saying the original chassis geometry wasn't right. I wonder if he tried to get Shelby to set the car up to his specs when he bought it new since he worked at Ford at the time he ordered the car.

Another post said "he also cut the front of the frame tubes off and made thick wall frame tubes that just fit inside, with a rosetta welded inner part that were crammed into the original frame with a hydraulic ram. " I asked a welder what " rosetta welding" was and he didn't know. My question is are the original frame tubes still there?

Another post also said he has a magnesium gearbox housing. I wonder if any other 427 Cobras had those?

He runs Hoosier tires, Penske dampers by T&A Shocks LLC. One funny note I read is that "At autocross events Bruce must turn the side pipes over to direct the spent gases under the car. As the exhaust pressure blasting out of the pipes. Will Blow over the orange cones."


I enjoyed the stories about how the car when it was 44 years old beat all the other cars at a Optima Challenge autocross. It shows some Cobras still have what it takes!--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03-12-2012, 09:29 AM
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Bruce is a regular visitor to this forum.

Be sure (this time) to remember that you posted this.... I am sure he will reply.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:09 AM
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Plug Weld - Also called a "rosette weld", two pieces of tubing are welded together, one inside the other, through holes drilled in the outer sheath.

Opening the end of the frame tubes and inserting another tube has been a semi-common Cobra restoration/frame reinforcement/strengthening technique for some time. The original outer rails stay as they were and when you grind/finish the Rosette welds it is un-noticeable.
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Last edited by Mark IV; 03-12-2012 at 10:13 AM.. Reason: added
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:55 AM
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Here is a post Bruce put up back in 2009 when questions came up about CSX 3170 modifications he has done...
_____________________________________

Thanks for all the positive comments on my car, the purists do not like what I have done, so it is nice to hear that some folks think it is OK.
Several years ago I described the changes to a gentleman who owns an original that he runs in vintage racing and he turned and walked away in disgust.

The only irreversible changes I made to the chassis are the reinforced frame tubes and they don't show. Everything else is bolted to the original chassis using existing mounting points so the car can be put back to original condition whenever necessary. I have saved all the original parts including engine, transmission, rear end, suspension, steering gear, brakes, pedals, steering wheel, radiator, seats, wheels, springs, shocks, drive shaft, windshield, grease gun,etc, etc. When I check out my widow can have it restored for auction, till then I plan to enjoy the hell out of it!

_____________________________________
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:39 AM
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Ive seen this car run in person, at 14:1 compression it sounds like an earthquake is about to hit, plus Bruce has given me advice on my next cobra build, his opinion is very valuable when it comes to these cars.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:17 PM
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Default Did he ever say what deficiencies in his opinion stock 427 came with?

At that late stage in Cobra production, maybe he has an opinion on what the car came with that could have been corrected.

I heard the front coil springs on the 427 don't last too long.
I have seen the batteries behind the seat in some but in 427 S/Cs, is it two separate 12 volt aircraft batteries? Or one big long battery?

Did Cambern's Cobra used to be red and run an almost horizontal plexiglass full width windscreen, very darkly tinted, and a huge black roll bar, sort of squared off, that spanned both seats? I might have shot it at an autocross decades ago but not realized it is the same car.

I didn't comment in the first post about the shape of the rear body but in some other website they were speculating about that. If you go to the pictures on this website

Bruce Cambern's Original 427 Cobra

Looks stock to me, I don't know what they are talking about. Usually only cars that have been hit and repaired without ref. to original shape have different contours. That site shows a third windscreen treatment--the driver only plexiglass--this is the first time I have seen that on a 427 Cobra.

On the site above it also shows the interior. Does anyone know the model of steering wheel and wrap around bucket seats? I am glad he saved all the original stuff--most guys throw that out to make room in the garage and regret it years later (remeinds me of when my belly pan fell off my 300SL and I left them laying in the road, probably cost $2000 to replicate today!) .
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:20 AM
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Default He's in Fresno

Historybuff I talked to Bruce a couple of times. Very knowledgeable man. Has do alot of work to this cobra without changing the body. Motor is under 500 cubes. The suspension has been worked to product the best handling possible. The Whiners from the Optima battery camp and the air ride camp all called foul and Bruce was not allowed to return with the cobra for a repeat. He showed up with his GT-40 and had it not been for clogged cats and injector problem, he might have won.
Bruce brings a gun to a gun fight, wins and is told to find another gun. What crap. This years Challenge was a bigger joke with Poppe winning the event with a vette. I have no problem with the vette beating Stillow car but when did you see a vette come from the factory with a 5' wing that generates upto 1,500 pound of down pressure on the rear tires. Every other car but 1 other ran in a stock body factory look. I guess if you are not cheating you can't win. Driver that won is also a pro driver from the west coast. Bruce has a friend drive his car at the event for the first time.
Bruce has alot of good info and how to setup a cobra with roll rates, spring loads, bumpsteering, and alignments. I am sure he would shopw you his car if you are in the area. I going to Navato in Sept. Might take the 4 hour drive over to Frenso. Rick L.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:25 AM
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Default corrections,

Bruce came to work at Ford AFTER he bought the cobra, Ford engineers redesigned the suspension for the Cobra but the Ford bean counters squashed the upgrades. the first upgrades were a modified 57 caddy front sway bar and custom adjustable rear sway bar. After Bruce moved from California where he was an engineer at the Ford Mustang factory to Dearborn, Some of the engineers at ford who still had the suspension designs gave him a set of prints and he had the second series design parts made In the 60's or early 70's. The present suspension is a different design.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:33 AM
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I'll be damn...hey Bruce, did you know that?
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:38 AM
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Default Jamo

Quote:
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I'll be damn...hey Bruce, did you know that?
Well this is the internet so it must be true......
Wally has some facts confused but he got most of the information from internet comments so that can be overlooked. The car was red at one time but never had a different windshield or roll bar. The rear fenders were widened by Shelby before I picked up the car because SC fenders were not wide enough for the tires I wanted to run in the 1960's. Suspension mods, I reinforced the lower A arms when the car was less than a year old because they were bending and we reformed a solid 3/4 " Cadillac sway bar for the front and fabricated a rear bar out of 4140 steel. The only other changes until the late 90's were custom wound springs from Hypercoil, reversed steering arms and modified camber blocks. In those days I was all about engines and more HP. Ford racing, compression is now 15 to 1 but you are correct you heard the 14 to 1 engine. All the big changes were done after I retired. I knew both Klaus Arning and Bob Negstad and we actually worked in the same building early in my career at Ford but we did not agree on suspension design at all.
I did (now that the statute of limitations as expired) make literally thousands of runs on the Ford main frame suspension design computer during Christmas holidays. The Ford computer did not approve of the Cobras suspension design at all. Camber gain, Ackerman, bump steer all were well outside of accepted design practice for even passenger cars not to mention a sports car.
I actually added a vertical member to the round tube that was forced inside the main frame tubes to give it additional bending strength which gave it the chassis much greater torsional strength. Yes, it was rosette welded in place
after welding the vertical member in the new tube.
I designed the new suspension when I retired with a great deal of adjustability so it could really be tuned. Although it was good and the car did well it was not until this year that it is showing how good it can be. I have a very talented young man (Scott Fraser) co-driving with me now and he is so good that minor suspension changes show up in time improvements. We have worked together and really improved the car. My driving is not good enough anymore to evaluate idea's but Scott is really good at evaluation so the car is at a new level now. We are on 200 TW street tires and the car is faster than it was 3 years ago on Hoosier A6's. We have tried literally hundreds of different suspension changes so it has not come easily but we are getting better every week. Last week we took 1 sweep of rebound out of the rear shocks and it compromised high speed braking which shows how close the car is now. We will try new tires this coming week which should be better because the current tires have hundreds of heat cycles on them.


Here is a video of Scott giving a friend a ride last Saturday, he is shifting from 2nd to third at about 105-106 MPH.

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlQIIzFT5BQ[/ame]
Tom Kirkham and mate like this.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:13 AM
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Bruce,

I've watched your cars progression for a long time, what is not to love about an owner who continues to use the car for what it was built for. As always, keep up the great work, and continue to post videos from time to time.

Sincerely,


Bill S.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:14 AM
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How the hell does he not lose the rear end... can I buy your car if you ever sell it...
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:06 PM
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I love the video, I believe I saw the car in person at Laguna Seca two years ago.
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:15 PM
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Default Rear end

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Originally Posted by fordracing65 View Post
How the hell does he not lose the rear end... can I buy your car if you ever sell it...
That is the key, it is much more stable now than it ever has been especially considering that it is spinning the tires most of the time. It has always turned in well but the rear end did not always stay stable.

He also has very quick hands as you can see from the video.
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:20 PM
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Default Laguna Seca

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Originally Posted by TimG427 View Post
I love the video, I believe I saw the car in person at Laguna Seca two years ago.
Yes, it was there but with original suspension, wheels and vintage racing GoodYears. I lost a roller lifter just before the main so did not race in the final.
The handling was terrible because of the combination of springs and bars I chose so it is just as well that I didn't run, might have crashed it in the main.
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:31 PM
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Awesome video of an awesome driver in an awesome Cobra!! Love it!
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:24 PM
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It's your car. I say do what you want with it. However, with as much as you have invested, why not have it & a continuation or replica that you mod & track as much as you desire?
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:47 PM
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All these years and I just noticed the name of your town...Camels Hump?

Hehehehe....them early settlers sure had a sense of humor.
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:01 PM
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More of a mountain, than a town. But, yes.
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
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More of a mountain, than a town. But, yes.
All the way from Highland Park, CA if I remember correctly?
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