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Kirkham Motorsports

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  • 1 Post By patrickt
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:07 AM
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Default Cobra Driving Experience Across Manufacturers

I'm curious to know about the driving experience of Cobras across different manufacturers.

Having only ever driven 1 other Cobra for a brief stretch other than my own ERA FIA, I'm curious to know how others stack up.

Original 427/289 vs leaf spring Kirkham/CSX vs IRS ERA, etc.

For example, how does my ERA FIA compare in experience to the original? Would I hate driving an original Cobra or love it more than I do my ERA?

I'll admit something that many of you won't agree with: I had my engine rebuilt and increased HP from roughly 420 to 490; while I noticed the increase in power, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't care if it stayed in the low 400s.

I know that this conversation can go in a lot of different directions but I don't mind whichever direction it goes...
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:29 AM
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I'll admit something that many of you won't agree with: I had my engine rebuilt and increased HP from roughly 420 to 490; while I noticed the increase in power, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't care if it stayed in the low 400s.
For predominantly street-driven cars, there's a point between your two numbers where "making more" really doesn't accomplish anything. There was a point when I was driving on my hard-as-rocks and old-as-Methuselah Yokahama tires and they were breaking loose just coming off of stop lights with moderately light acceleration. It's really hard to put a true 500+ HP to the ground, without spinning, on the street, and still be driving under a 100MPH.
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:04 AM
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For predominantly street-driven cars, there's a point between your two numbers where "making more" really doesn't accomplish anything. There was a point when I was driving on my hard-as-rocks and old-as-Methuselah Yokahama tires and they were breaking loose just coming off of stop lights with moderately light acceleration. It's really hard to put a true 500+ HP to the ground, without spinning, on the street, and still be driving under a 100MPH.
I agree with all of that (because that has been my experience), without traction control, launch control, 20" rims with better tires, seems like 400-450 is the max that can be handled with a decent/good 15" tire. If possible, better to focus on weight reduction than adding HP.
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:12 AM
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The 427 was built as a race car. A trained professional can manage to get the 427's hp over the 289s effectively to the ground. Mere mortals like me and most of you cannot. Especially on the street.. the engine wanted to run at a much higher rpm than ordinary driving could do. Really, 3rd was the happiest spot.

For that reason I would do a 289 car if I do another cobra.
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:28 AM
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Buggy spring car drives a little loosy-goosy compared to a coilover car however sharp in steering.
Coilover car is a much more precise handling and a slight harder, a more firm sports car ride.

Your ERA FIA would be more like a 427 car as its a coilover car. As discussed 350-400hp is plenty for these light cars, more power = more talent especially to keep it on the road.
Think it was Anglis that said a 289 is carzy fast but tamed and the 427 will bite.....

Last edited by 1985 CCX; 08-30-2021 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 08-30-2021, 02:41 PM
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1985 CCX,

Interesting...in your opinion, is it fair to say: given that the original 427s had an IRS, my ERA FIA would probably be a somewhat better handling version (given the studier frame of the ERA) of the original 427, but pretty comparable experience overall?
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Old 08-30-2021, 03:44 PM
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Hard to say. My ERA was a 427 street car with a 428 CJ and the coil overs. It rode nicely, you had to be careful about the throttle, especially if you were turning and had to give it a little more throttle due to someone coming around a blind curve. You do not need a lot of horsepower in these cars, torque comes into play much more than HP. It's pretty hard to get the revs up high unless you have a very low geared rear end or leave it in a lower gear in most driving. On the highway with a more lenient speed limit you might start approaching the maximum HP on a car.

My SPF 289 FIA has the transverse leaf springs and they are very stiff. I cannot really compare the two as the FIA is a dedicated race car, so it is never on the street and all of it's driving is at high speeds or going hard into corners. It does handle well on the track. It is quite common in hard corners with sufficient speed to lift one of the front tires off the track. I am not sure if the coil over cars are as susceptible as the leaf spring cars are to that.

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Old 08-30-2021, 03:53 PM
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I would say that your car was probably stiffer, my AC and the gold car are very much like an original in feel. The chassis do flex, the AC MKIV is slightly stiffer than original MKIII as it did get a few added steel bars for DOT reasons. MKII are flexing all the time.

My Gold (buggy) car is sharp in turns, much like Jim's however he may have more spring than I do. Mine rides fairly supple, also have more sidewall than Jim which may be the result of more supple feel. Keep in mind the coilover cars were an evolution and much improved over the 50's buggy chassis with stiffer frame and better 4 corner independent suspension.

Hope this helps. I have never driven an ERA, driven race 427's and street 427's along with street 289's.

Last edited by 1985 CCX; 08-30-2021 at 03:56 PM..
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Old 08-30-2021, 04:12 PM
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you guys think that there is much difference in feel, experience, speed in a original, csx, kirkham, superformance, ERA 427s?
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Old 08-30-2021, 06:12 PM
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I would imagine that someone that drives by the seat of his pants and/or an experienced race car driver would notice differences. The frames of the originals were made from a lower grade steel than the current manufactures who use the original frame design. The originals had more flex to them, especially given the use of thin aluminum for the body panels. A fiberglass car is stiffer than an aluminum car.

If the engine, transmission and differential are kept at a constant, than I would suspect that the original might still be the quickest as the frame probably weighed less than a current manufactured frame and I believe that the old aluminum bodies were thinner than newer ones. Fiberglass is heavier than aluminum; although maybe the extra stiffness that it provides might work towards decreasing power loss through the frame twisting?

The SPF and ERA 427 frames are stiffer than the originals and will not twist like those would.

Reality is, the average driver would not really notice a difference in street driving situations. You would have to have it on a track and put the cars through some performance maneuvers to potentially notice differences.

My 2 cents for what it's worth.
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Old 08-30-2021, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastd View Post
I'm curious to know about the driving experience of Cobras across different manufacturers.

I'll admit something that many of you won't agree with: I had my engine rebuilt and increased HP from roughly 420 to 490; while I noticed the increase in power, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't care if it stayed in the low 400s.
fastd, do elaborate. Why would you yourself personally be content with 20% less thin petal (asking genuinely, not poking fun).

I have to say that as one who's pondering their first build, I've been thinking about this as well. Bragging rights (of big HP and TQ number) and an engine bay that has a motor spilling out aside, I do enjoy a drive that requires respect. But at some point, there has to be a point where the extra HP per dollar in a 1 ton roadster just offers diminishing returns. Sure, that point is subjective but butt dyno experience means a lot.

Watching this thread because I see there's a fair amount of respectable folks here on their second, third, and even fourth Cobra. And of course, there are also those who've also driven different manufacturers and power variations. Whichever camp your in, please jump in to help shed some light on the subject of "how much is enough."
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:15 PM
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When asked about putting 428 station wagon engines instead of 427 Side Oilers in big block Cobra's, Carrol responded, "who the hell can tell the difference between 400hp and 450hp?"

I have been looking at engines for my small block Cobra project, and I noticed, modern 302 small blocks, with roller rockers and other modern goodies, and a mild 9.5 to 1 compression, put out as much or more then the 289 race engines back in the day.


Talking to a few who have driven the major models of original Cobras back in the late 60s early 70s, plus reading those that drove them all, including the Daytona's and Cooper King Cobra, they all seem to agree that the AC 289 was the best power to weight ratio, especially, with the wider tires. So I would think that the ERA 289 FIA, would make the best car. Plus, those doors, with the sweeping curves, that had to be done by an artist, since no engineer would put such a useless feature in a car!
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:58 PM
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my advice: do an all aluminum 351w or a stroked 289 or 302 that revs to 7k rpm. anything above 400-450 hp doesn’t increase my enjoyment of the car or the speeds that you can drive it. the physical limitations of the tires, the short wheelbase, the poor aerodynamic limits the ability to use more hp. less weight, higher revs is more fun imo.
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Old 08-31-2021, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastd View Post
I'm curious to know about the driving experience of Cobras across different manufacturers.

Having only ever driven 1 other Cobra for a brief stretch other than my own ERA FIA, I'm curious to know how others stack up.

Original 427/289 vs leaf spring Kirkham/CSX vs IRS ERA, etc.

For example, how does my ERA FIA compare in experience to the original? Would I hate driving an original Cobra or love it more than I do my ERA?

I'll admit something that many of you won't agree with: I had my engine rebuilt and increased HP from roughly 420 to 490; while I noticed the increase in power, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't care if it stayed in the low 400s.

I know that this conversation can go in a lot of different directions but I don't mind whichever direction it goes...
Driving experience across different manufacturers, I think I can fill in quite a few

427SC/street-ERA/Contemporary/Kirkham/SPF/CSX/Unique/FFR (original and reproduction/continuation) equipped with IRS rear end, for the street, all handle and feel pretty much the same. FFR with 3 or 4 link rear suspension can get a little jumpy on bumpy roads.The key here is apples to apples reviews.

289 FIA-ERA vs original, again, on the street, not much of a difference.

Now, with the above said, if you are asking about a difference on the track, yes, major differences, yet you will not really be able to give it an apples to apples type review, as each car is/was set up differently. Less flex on a modern Kirkham/CSX continuation series car vs an original as there is less deflection or torsional twist due to the better materials used for the chassis and birdcage assembly. Original CSX, lets face it, they are 50+ years old, if still equipped with their original chassis structure, there will be torsional twist and deflection, much more than a modern version.

Just my two cents having had the pleasure to drive all of the above over the last 40 or so years.

Bill S.
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Old 08-31-2021, 06:28 AM
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In addition to the suspension style, there are many other factors that will affect the driving experience. What type of shocks are you using and are they properly adjusted? Do you have the correct springs or torsion bar diameter? Is your car properly aligned? What tires are you running and are they 15" or 18"? What tire pressure are you running? To me, all of these factors can affect the feel of the car as much as the suspension design.
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Old 08-31-2021, 07:50 AM
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This is cool guys. Thank you.

All this time I was thinking that my driving experience in my era fia wasn’t that close to the car from the 60s. It’s nice to know that my car is roughly comparable to a original 427; 1. Because it makes the original seem more awesome to me; 2. I get to share in the 60s experience.

(I’m ok that my era fia is more 427 than 289)
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Old 08-31-2021, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastd View Post
This is cool guys. Thank you.

All this time I was thinking that my driving experience in my era fia wasnít that close to the car from the 60s. Itís nice to know that my car is roughly comparable to a original 427; 1. Because it makes the original seem more awesome to me; 2. I get to share in the 60s experience.

(Iím ok that my era fia is more 427 than 289)
That's what I think as I am racing my SPF 289 FIA on the track. I will never be able to afford an original, but I feel like I am racing one and that's good enough for me.
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Old 08-31-2021, 12:00 PM
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Think we are all lucky to have what we have.
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Old 08-31-2021, 04:30 PM
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Newbie here, 408 Windsor. I like the big block grunt. Doesn’t really matter what gear I am in. Grin producing acceleration is available at will. I also like popping along at low rpms and having plenty of torque on tap. That said, after racing open displacement class MX for years, I ended up going back to small displacement. More fun than I can relate. Nothing like ringing out a smaller engine to its limits as compared to judicious use of big hp.
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Old 08-31-2021, 07:22 PM
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I've only driven the Contemporary Classic Cobra that I built around 300 miles so far this year. Coil over front suspension, Jag based independent rear with self designed and built watts linkage. I have a 390 based FE with Edelbrock Aluminum top end kit with solid roller cam, and Harland Sharp Roller rockers. I'd estimate around 430 HP with 15" Tires. I have ridden in one other ERA that has an all aluminum windsor based 427 with 8 stack that was making north of 650HP. All I can say is you can really feel the extra 220+HP in the seat of the pants, but from a general ride quality they seem very similar.
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