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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12-27-2017, 02:43 PM
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Default Cobra Owner Wannabe

Hello All!
My name is Dan and have been mulling the idea of a Cobra purchase for quite a number of years. I have gotten to the age where it’s time to start checking things off my bucket list and owning a Cobra gets closer to the top of that list with each passing birthday. In my youth (so VERY long ago) I enjoyed working on cars but those years are gone now I’d rather just enjoy the ride without the wrenching it took to get there. Consequently, I will be looking into a used Cobra but one whose roots in body, frame, and driveline can be traced back to quality products and professional builders. I’m not a mechanic nor do I wish to become one. I would like to buy a lightly used (<4K miles) Cobra with an engine, body/frame, that were preassembled by their respective manufacturers before they were mated. My thoughts there are not only for the ready availability of standard repair parts, but also for the reduced risk of an undetected original assembly error if both engine and body/frame were to have been assembled by a private party. I’ve learned over my life that not everyone will take the required care and time to properly assemble something and Cobra cars I’m sure are notwithstanding. I’ve done quite a bit of online research as to what’s out there and keep returning to the Superformance MkIII for the rolling chassis and Roush for the power. I feel this combination would best meet my criteria of quality, and hopefully the reliability that should accompany it which is also very important to me. I’ve also discovered that Cobra’s don’t depreciate at the rate of a normal car. A quality vehicle with a build year of 2007 (now 10 years old) still commands a price in the high 60’s or low70’s which means a loss of only about 20% since new. Granted the mileage is extremely low (1K-3K miles) on those cars in comparison with a normal car, but a used quality built Cobra seems to act more like a savings bond than a normal depreciating asset. Attention to historical detail is insignificant in my case. The Cobra I’m looking for doesn’t have to mirror it’s 1960’s ancestor in every detail. My only criteria there is for the 427 engine, carbureted or injected makes no difference to me. Silver with a black stripe would be my first color choice, but I would entertain other colors (accept red) if the price was attractive. The car will never be raced while in my possession (and hopefully never was by its previous owner(s)) and will simply be enjoyed as this old man’s toy. I’m open to any and all suggestions/feedback and I do take criticism well, so don’t be shy if what I’ve stated here seems to be in error. I easily stand corrected.
Thanks in advance, Dan

Last edited by Pelledan; 12-27-2017 at 02:47 PM..
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Old 12-27-2017, 03:16 PM
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Hi Dan,

Take this slow and do your homework. You mentioned your only criteria is a 427 engine. Is that a 427 FE big block like the originals or a stroked 351 Windsor based 427 (far more common in Roush and SPF configurations)? You are wise to stick with quality MFRs, but there will always be more wrenching involved with these cars. Low mileage 10-20 year old cars are definitely not the exception and neither are new ones with 1000 miles or less. Nothing wrong with not wanting to wrench yourself, but if you are going to be a Cobra owner I'd first line up a trusted and available local mechanic who knows these cars and can help you out. Be careful with the ultra low mileage used examples. Sometimes, the super low mileage can mean super low fun factor so it wasn't driven for a variety of possible reasons. Don't let higher mileage cars scare you away, especially if owned and cared for by an enthusiastic owner who maintained records of everything done to the car. Condition should be a higher deciding factor than mileage. Try and get a trained set of eyes on the car you may be considering buying if the seller doesn't have an established reputation.

Good Luck,
Troy
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:35 PM
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Start monitoring 427 Cobra Country--Ford AC Cobra replica manufacturers SUPER-SITE.

Avoid eBay like the plague.

Get a professional inspection. Demand paperwork.

Don't buy the car until you sit in the one you want. That means you'll have to go see it, which means it may limit your search area. What you don't want to do is buy a car and then find out when you get it home that the steering wheel cuts into your lap. [This was what happened to me when SPF was high on my list until I found out that I didn't fit in one.]

Auctions aren't bad if you have discipline and get a chance to check it out before it crosses the block.

By the way, you're not the first to ask this precise question (this week). Read some of the other posts will save you a lot of time. See here for the latest trip down memory lane

New guy looking for guidance on Cobra purchase
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:51 AM
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I would re-iterate what previous posts have said. Be patient, there are plenty out there. Go for a test drive in the car before purchasing, if a seller is unwilling to take you out for a spin (they are not going to let you drive it), then that would raise red flags for me. I drove 5 hours for a test drive the first cobra that I bought and we were driving with snow on the ground. When I sold the car the buyer, after negotiating a price and placing a deposit, flew form Texas to upstate NY to go for a test drive. Make sure that it is more that just a spin around the block; get the car up to temp and then loo for leaks afterwards.

I would be more concerned with a very low milage car than I would with one with moderate miles on it. It takes several thousands of miles to sort these cars out and work out all of the build problems.

Good luck.

Jim
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:41 AM
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Dan,

Welcome to the site and the advise given in the above posts is very good. If you don't have much experience with these cars try to get someone that knows what to look for to go with you. Also if there are any Cobra clubs near you go to one of their get togethers and look at the various brands and talk to the owners and find out what they like or dislike about them. If you can get someone to take you for a ride in one. And good luck and I hope that you find what you are looking for soon.

Ron
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:59 AM
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We have a customer who is selling a Superformance MK III that meets your specifications. We have no stake in the sale but are familiar with the car and can vouch for the condition. If you would like his contact information PM or email info(AT)timemachinesauto.com

As has been stated, some very low mile cars are low mile because they don't work! We have seen cars (of many brands) that have no miles on them because they do not run or drive properly and therefor never got used. Miles are not a issue so far as we are concerned, build and part quality is.
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Old 12-28-2017, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1795 View Post
I would be more concerned with a very low milage car than I would with one with moderate miles on it. It takes several thousands of miles to sort these cars out and work out all of the build problems.

^^^ Yeah, that. Jim gets the "best advice of the day" award.

a hand-built car isn't going to behave like a mass-produced showroom machine, so make sure your expectations are aligned properly up front.

a car with 5000 miles on it will probably be a better driver than one with 1500 miles... JMHO
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:19 PM
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I had never thought about the beware low miles before, but it makes a lot of sense given the temperament of some of these builds.
I am sure there are always those that found that they are not driven as much as the original owner expected and then decided that type of car was not for them. I know, I haven't driven mine as much as I thought I would. However, there is no way it is going away from me.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:33 AM
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I would care most about the parts in the car; not the miles.

What is in the engine and who built it. Double that for an FE.

Will it run on pump gas?

Miles on the Cobra mean nothing if someone tossed used car parts in it that were already over 100K. It happens.

A new TKO or other heavy built transmission means a lot more than something tossed in out of a worn out Mustang.

A quality brake system verses used car parts is a big deal. I would personally run from drums.

If it has 4 lug wheels, run away.

IRS is better than a straight axle. Not all center sections are the same. I have a 9" ford straight axle. It is quite strong, but after replacing axle bears that failed in 10K miles, I learned some things. I bought Timken bearings and what came in the Timken box was the same Chinese bearings that had just failed. I thought someone switched them out so I called Timken. They are indeed sourcing them from China. A friend told me it was the grease that come in the bearings that causes the failures. We pulled the seals and what we washed out stunk. I'm not sure it was petroleum. So the point to my story, as great as the 9" was, good parts are getting harder to come by.

Last edited by olddog; 12-29-2017 at 07:35 AM..
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:05 PM
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Superformance and Roush is a solid choice. Also important is who installed drivetrain. Look for a later model Superformance, (if your budget permits) as many improvements have taken place. Early superformsnces are fine also, just need to due a little diligence
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Old 12-31-2017, 05:58 PM
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Thank you all for the responses. All this feedback has made me aware of some issues I didnít know existed. Some of you have mentioned the need to ďsort outĒ (Cobra Ownerís speak for ďde-bugĒ?) a new vehicle. Can you give me some examples of such issues you may have experienced and what remedy was employed to eliminate the concern? Are there issues still prevalent in the current new models? I donít move quickly on things like this. Iím one of those people that has to open every door, turn over every rock and peek through every crack before even contemplating a purchase. Then Iíll suffer from analysis paralysis for a few weeks as I chew through the information. Trust me, Iím a salesmanís nightmare and have been abandoned by them more than once while on the showroom floor.
Troy, thanks for reminding me that Roush doesnít make a big block 427. I would be just as happy with a pseudo 427. Displacement is displacement whether in an OEM big block or an aftermarket engineered once-a-351. Years ago I would have argued that, but with todayís design technology and over all engine metallurgy, physical size matters less.
Another thought that has come to mind is emissions regulations and how they effect Cobras. I live in Illinois and all gas-powered vehicles are required to pass emissions testing to be licensed. I know some have sidestepped this issue by titling the vehicle to a pre-1968 model year when horsepower was legally more important than hydrocarbons. I have also heard where replica cars can get a waiver depending on proposed usage. It sounds like this is a naturally gray area that I fear could turn murky. The last thing Iíd want to do is take the plunge, then run into a rats nest of regulation that prevents me from enjoying the car as I would like.
Thanks again, Dan
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:35 PM
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Dan,

Thoroughly research what your state requires for emissions and for other things like heaters, defrosters, emergency flashers, back-up lights, etc. Some things can be retrofitted quite easily, others not. You want to make sure that what you are buying will meet your states code. Some states have specific codes/regulations for special built or low volume cars, ask if your state has them.

You do not want to buy something that you cannot license or drive. I am pretty certain that there are cobras registered in Illinois, check with a local cobra club or online here to ask other people from Illinois what you are required to have and how to go through the process. Good luck.

By the day, sorting out typically means working out the bugs regarding the engine, suspension adjustments, proper alignment of the engine and transmission, etc.

Jim
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:15 PM
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Dan, there is so much you don't know about this hobby that you're almost sure to make a mistake if you don't start doing your research now and put off even thinking about buying one of these cars until, at least, maybe next summer. These cars are not right for almost everyone -- and I've already got the feeling that you're probably better suited for a Corvette.
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Old 01-01-2018, 06:51 AM
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Default Do yourself a favor. Do like I did and get one of these.

Dan,

I lurked and researched on line and these forums for 5 years, searching everywhere for the right car. Test drove a half-dozen and every single one had problems. Finally settled onto what others have said... a later model Superformance is probably the right ticket... but they come at significant cost and not without some risk. Your situation seems a lot like mine:

Wants to drive it more than work on it.... check.
Knows that a good one is $60-70k.... check.
Wants the bucket list cobra driving experience.... check.

Then I found the 650 Ft-Lb & 650 HP convertible of my dreams. It has all the noise and terror of a 427 cobra without the high probability of death 3 seconds after you mash it. Comes with all the creature comforts too.

When you giggle like a schoolgirl on the test drive like I did, you know you've found the right car. Good luck.
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:13 AM
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Dan,

Do yourself a favor. Do like I did and get one of these.

Good luck.
I think that's the best advice for him.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:09 AM
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Dan,

If you are still interested, after the customary testing if a Cobra is for you. I graduated high school in 1976, in Ohio. Altered high performance cars were everywhere, when I was a teenager. I helped buddies build several engines before I was 16. I grew up driving cars with radical cams. Everything from mild to wild. I dropped a SB Chevy in a Vega when I was 16 or 17. Built a 350 LT1 and dropped in my 1969 Chevelle, that would pull the front wheels and run low 13's in a quarter mile at 18 years old. If you experience any of those times and drove any of those cars, a Cobra with a radical engine will be like old times. Caution these cars are nearly half the weight and with a 90" wheel base things happen real fast. My Cobra is the best handling car I ever owned. I have no doubt it can get you killed before you can say oh ****. Even if you have never experienced driving a radical engine, you might still do OK. If that's the case, I would recommend lot's of CID, a mild cam with a good set of heads.

There is a Cobra club in Chicago. A group always comes to the London, Ohio Cobra Show, in June. Over the years there was a fellow with a Mopar 426 Hemi, a Viper V10, and every year a Turbo Charged Buick V6 shows up. At least that is how I remember it. I expect there is a couple dozen or more in that club. Get in contact that club.

I even have a lost cousin, with the same name, somewhere in Illinois. He too has a Cobra. I would never have found him, it I didn't buy a Cobra.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:20 AM
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I found the 427 engine to be severely underutilized for most driving. It wants to run higher RPMs that you can't get on the street (unless you only drive in 2nd ). Consider getting a small block car (ie, one based on the CSX2000 series) with a 289 (or 302). The engine will give you all the horsepower you need in that small body. The FIA style will give you the "hips". Only downside is that the roll bar terminates in the passenger foot box but that's OK since after you give rides to your friend they won't ride again anyway (the passenger side is notoriously uncomfortable) and you'll spend most of your time alone.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:24 AM
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You do need to understand that a Cobra is not like owning a car. It is more like a motorcycle with the open cockpit. It is difficult to get into. It is dangerous to get out of (Side pipe burns - affectionately call getting snake bit). There are no creature comforts. It is a pure testosterone injected American, British overcompensation machine. It is rude, crude, and smelly. It is lethally fast. But it is oh so much fun!
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Old 01-01-2018, 12:18 PM
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No offense to Gunkk, but if a modern convertible truly scratched the itch that a Cobra was sought to scratch, it certainly was not meant to be. I can only speak for myself, but a Cobra gives me a feeling no other car (and certainly no modern car) can give.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gunkk View Post
Dan,

I lurked and researched on line and these forums for 5 years, searching everywhere for the right car. Test drove a half-dozen and every single one had problems. Finally settled onto what others have said... a later model Superformance is probably the right ticket... but they come at significant cost and not without some risk. Your situation seems a lot like mine:

Wants to drive it more than work on it.... check.
Knows that a good one is $60-70k.... check.
Wants the bucket list cobra driving experience.... check.

Then I found the 650 Ft-Lb & 650 HP convertible of my dreams. It has all the noise and terror of a 427 cobra without the high probability of death 3 seconds after you mash it. Comes with all the creature comforts too.

When you giggle like a schoolgirl on the test drive like I did, you know you've found the right car. Good luck.
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:11 PM
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My advice to wannabe-Cobra-owners is that if you have any doubt at all, then buy something else.
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