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Old 11-12-2021, 04:05 PM
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Default Considering buying a Cobra

Hi there. I am in the process of deciding whether or not buying a replica Cobra is the right choice for me.

I have owned classic cars for long-term: same 1970 car for 31 years. I built everything on it but the trans and rear end. Didn't stitch the seats or spray the paint. That's about it. I have owned modern sports cars- not supercars mind, sports cars, about 10 lbs per bhp. Zippy enough. I've owned modern muscle, in fact I just sold an LS3 powered car and it is the first time since 1989 that I have not owned a V8 powered car.

I have found that my finances unexpectedly allow me to get back into the car hobby as a hobby, if I choose. Hobby as opposed to 'just driving a fun car for fun'. I used to enter into shows. Never thought I'd win and I didn't win anything, but it was fun. I lived and breathed the old car hobby. I have had a couple holy grail cars for a long time: 1965 Corvette coupe, and the Shelby Cobra.

I am lucky enough to be pretty close to two Cobra makers: Factory Five and ERA. The Cobra that I would want is a USRRC 289 example. I don't need or really want the 427/428 etc. I've built larger hotrod engines. Very fun and very cool. But I've done it. The proportions of the 289 style body are best to me. I know what smaller engines can do. And it's the car that pretty much made the legend. Plus I'm a Dan Gurney fan. I'll never own a Gurney/Weslake F1 Eagle, but a Cobra is can-do.

My catches are 1) that I had a stroke at 45- heart defect. You'd never know it if I didn't tell you. I can (and have) repaired and worked on cars since that day, not quite five years ago. In fact I'll be dragging out the long ramps to change oil and inspect my current little fun car before it goes into storage for the winter. But that is a modern car. I love cars of the '60s. The style and even the tech of that era fascinates me. Air conditoning? Great. But wing windows? Count me in. To me, that is the car hobby: the era that grabs your imagination. Catch 2) is that I lost my shop space of 22 years last fall. Storage I can find, but the shop space was a godsend, and it's now gone.

So I would be looking at buying a completed example. I'd prefer to be in a position to build. I'd also prefer to be perfectly healthy and 25 again instead of 50 and slightly broken. I have seen prices all over the map. From what I have researched, an ERA example could be my first choice.

Driving is not a problem in case you're wondering. I was driving a six speed five days after my stroke and the only cars I've owned since then are manuals. My coordination is 99% back. The only thing I don't do much any more is target shooting. I am perfectly safe but the middle finger on my right hand goes numb and then starts to hurt like fire. Sort of like a frostbite type of pain. They say accupuncture is an option. We'll see.

Last edited by ChrisBlair; 11-12-2021 at 04:09 PM..
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Old 11-12-2021, 04:43 PM
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Don't buy a kit. Just buy a finished sorted out car and enjoy driving it instead of the frustration of "some assembly required" and having to hunt down tools and missing parts. You'll have two years of fun driving instead of two years of frustration thinking about how much fun it would be to drive instead of breaking your knuckles. Look on www.cobracountry.com
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Old 11-12-2021, 04:52 PM
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No doubt!

Thanks Tony
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Old 11-12-2021, 04:53 PM
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Chris, I'm very biased when I say that ERA is the way to go. 'Taint cheap but will hold it's value better than most FFRs. I've had my ERA 289FIA for 7 years and have put almost 90,000 miles on it. Needless to say, I like it. I run a tiny little engine and I really miss the "world's coming to an end" power I had with my old NAF and it's 496 Rat, but this car is much more comfortable, handles, brakes much better. My 2 worth.
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Old 11-12-2021, 07:48 PM
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Drive now, build later. Life is short, shyte happens. Drive the pecker hard like Karl. Big smiles ensue.
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Old 11-12-2021, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlair View Post
Hi there. I am in the process of deciding whether or not buying a replica Cobra is the right choice for me.

I have owned classic cars for long-term: same 1970 car for 31 years. I built everything on it but the trans and rear end. Didn't stitch the seats or spray the paint. That's about it. I have owned modern sports cars- not supercars mind, sports cars, about 10 lbs per bhp. Zippy enough. I've owned modern muscle, in fact I just sold an LS3 powered car and it is the first time since 1989 that I have not owned a V8 powered car.

I have found that my finances unexpectedly allow me to get back into the car hobby as a hobby, if I choose. Hobby as opposed to 'just driving a fun car for fun'. I used to enter into shows. Never thought I'd win and I didn't win anything, but it was fun. I lived and breathed the old car hobby. I have had a couple holy grail cars for a long time: 1965 Corvette coupe, and the Shelby Cobra.

I am lucky enough to be pretty close to two Cobra makers: Factory Five and ERA. The Cobra that I would want is a USRRC 289 example. I don't need or really want the 427/428 etc. I've built larger hotrod engines. Very fun and very cool. But I've done it. The proportions of the 289 style body are best to me. I know what smaller engines can do. And it's the car that pretty much made the legend. Plus I'm a Dan Gurney fan. I'll never own a Gurney/Weslake F1 Eagle, but a Cobra is can-do.

My catches are 1) that I had a stroke at 45- heart defect. You'd never know it if I didn't tell you. I can (and have) repaired and worked on cars since that day, not quite five years ago. In fact I'll be dragging out the long ramps to change oil and inspect my current little fun car before it goes into storage for the winter. But that is a modern car. I love cars of the '60s. The style and even the tech of that era fascinates me. Air conditoning? Great. But wing windows? Count me in. To me, that is the car hobby: the era that grabs your imagination. Catch 2) is that I lost my shop space of 22 years last fall. Storage I can find, but the shop space was a godsend, and it's now gone.

So I would be looking at buying a completed example. I'd prefer to be in a position to build. I'd also prefer to be perfectly healthy and 25 again instead of 50 and slightly broken. I have seen prices all over the map. From what I have researched, an ERA example could be my first choice.

Driving is not a problem in case you're wondering. I was driving a six speed five days after my stroke and the only cars I've owned since then are manuals. My coordination is 99% back. The only thing I don't do much any more is target shooting. I am perfectly safe but the middle finger on my right hand goes numb and then starts to hurt like fire. Sort of like a frostbite type of pain. They say accupuncture is an option. We'll see.
Buy used, let the first owner take the depreciation hit .
Before you buy, make certain to have the car professionally inspected.
As for what you have owned in the past, they mean nothing now, as the Cobra is a car all to itself. Remember this, and repeat it as soon as you walk up to the car "this car will try to kill me as soon as I sit in the drivers seat", keep saying it, respect the car, it will try to kill you, disrespect the car, and it just might kill you, or someone around you. Yes, really.

Read the link in my sig, it's not rocket science, but can seem like it even if the car was factory built.

Most of all, enjoy the ride.

Bill S.
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Old 11-13-2021, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmustang View Post
Buy used, let the first owner take the depreciation hit .
Before you buy, make certain to have the car professionally inspected.
As for what you have owned in the past, they mean nothing now, as the Cobra is a car all to itself. Remember this, and repeat it as soon as you walk up to the car "this car will try to kill me as soon as I sit in the drivers seat", keep saying it, respect the car, it will try to kill you, disrespect the car, and it just might kill you, or someone around you. Yes, really.

Read the link in my sig, it's not rocket science, but can seem like it even if the car was factory built.

Most of all, enjoy the ride.

Bill S.
Thanks Bill. Bear with me here. Let me see if I can explain a little bit as to who I am. I can appreciate the fact that many new or prospective new Cobra owners are in for quite a rude shock when they turn their Ken Miles dreams into reality- these are not 'new' cars in a very real sense even if they were built last week. After Ford v Ferrari came out, there had to have been a lot of boyracers finding out about the wonders of what "high response/high gain" could really mean. You must also in general read things here to some degree, even if it is not put as bluntly as this type of thing: "No ESC? No Stabilitrack? No AWD? No ABS?? No side curtain airbag?! Why can't I drive this car like my Altima???!?! " I know I read the essense of that on the other car club forums I have been involved with.

Even many people my own age have precious little experience with obsolete car systems and the facts of life necessitated by those systems. Generations of cars exist now that are the product of manufacturers striving towards allowing you and I (and everyone else) to be ignorant, innattentive, sloppy, braindead fools behind the wheel. We've trained drivers to be morons who think nothing of plunging a 5,000 lb SUV into an offramp turn at 60mph, because the car will save them 999 times out of 1000. It's in the name of "safety", but I can't agree that training people to be terrible drivers is ever "safe". It's not safe because they never have a bad experience that shows them the envelope the car is pushing to save their bacon. It is in fact difficult to find people, in my experience, who even recognize that.

Your advice is very well made about the car's capability and potential to kill a driver, passenger, and onlookers. But it's not that a vintage or replica competition-type car (or any car built to mimic vintage building techniques materials and equipment) can try to kill you or others.

It's that it will happily try to do so, not just once per time you get in it, but each moment you're twirling the wheel. And all the more so if it is not in good working order when you pull out of the driveway, or you do not know what vintage-type systems have been telling you with those feelings in the wheel, pedals, and body, or those sounds, or those smells, or you don't understand what potential dangers exist when doing common maintenance. There's also considerable danger in how you view and react to the vehicles around you- your size in these cars is small.

Last edited by ChrisBlair; 11-13-2021 at 02:03 AM..
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Old 11-13-2021, 05:18 AM
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@ChrisBlair, sounds like you get the "It will kill you every time out" we try to stress that, before you buy one, afterwards maybe too late . Bill S., Tony, PatrickT, and many others have been owners for years, and know with what they speak. I consider myself a "Good Driver" have won 2-Natorial Championship in SCCA, been a vintage racer for 16years, Auto-Xed, Pro-rallyed etc. But driving a Cobra, is SO VERY DIFFERENT, then anything else I've driven, from the highest HP Big Block, to the "Little" 289 street, every one of them Whispered, as you're putting the key in "Respect me or I'll kill you" again words to live by. Karl or (Ol'Karlos) to me, is right, my Last Cobra? will be an ERA 289FIA. As everyone stated buy a Pre-Owned one, so you can use it right away, I spent 5years building my first one, years I'll never get back (66YO) Even a built one will give you hours of fun wrenching on them (They like to rattle themself loose ). I've belonged to a lot of car clubs over the years, seem like there was "Always" a pecking order, not so with us, we all love Cobras, and yours is no better than his, just different. I'm glad you reached out to us, Good Guys here, and will help anyway we can Cheers TommyRot.
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Old 11-13-2021, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlair View Post
Thanks Bill. Bear with me here. Let me see if I can explain a little bit as to who I am. I can appreciate the fact that many new or prospective new Cobra owners are in for quite a rude shock when they turn their Ken Miles dreams into reality- these are not 'new' cars in a very real sense even if they were built last week. After Ford v Ferrari came out, there had to have been a lot of boyracers finding out about the wonders of what "high response/high gain" could really mean. You must also in general read things here to some degree, even if it is not put as bluntly as this type of thing: "No ESC? No Stabilitrack? No AWD? No ABS?? No side curtain airbag?! Why can't I drive this car like my Altima???!?! " I know I read the essense of that on the other car club forums I have been involved with.

Even many people my own age have precious little experience with obsolete car systems and the facts of life necessitated by those systems. Generations of cars exist now that are the product of manufacturers striving towards allowing you and I (and everyone else) to be ignorant, innattentive, sloppy, braindead fools behind the wheel. We've trained drivers to be morons who think nothing of plunging a 5,000 lb SUV into an offramp turn at 60mph, because the car will save them 999 times out of 1000. It's in the name of "safety", but I can't agree that training people to be terrible drivers is ever "safe". It's not safe because they never have a bad experience that shows them the envelope the car is pushing to save their bacon. It is in fact difficult to find people, in my experience, who even recognize that.

Your advice is very well made about the car's capability and potential to kill a driver, passenger, and onlookers. But it's not that a vintage or replica competition-type car (or any car built to mimic vintage building techniques materials and equipment) can try to kill you or others.

It's that it will happily try to do so, not just once per time you get in it, but each moment you're twirling the wheel. And all the more so if it is not in good working order when you pull out of the driveway, or you do not know what vintage-type systems have been telling you with those feelings in the wheel, pedals, and body, or those sounds, or those smells, or you don't understand what potential dangers exist when doing common maintenance. There's also considerable danger in how you view and react to the vehicles around you- your size in these cars is small.
Chris,

It sounds like you get it in relative terms, and that you are going in to this with your eyes wide open. This is a good start, but to add to it, as Alpha02 above has, a Cobra is unlike any other car you have ever driven, even with my 20+ years in SCCA/NASA/NHRA racing, I was unprepared for my first (I've owned more than a few since then, with over 100K miles of road and track time under my belt with them) Cobra (an early FFR with a simple 351W/385HP Ford crate engine). I was lucky enough to have survived with little more than my dignity rumpled. It taught me I was not quite as prepared as I thought, but a slow, methodical learning curve had me tearing around Poconos combined infield course and beyond in no time at all. Take it slow, enjoy the ride, and you'll be just fine. As for the car itself, again, take your time, if you are unsure of what you are looking at, reach out to us here, or perhaps a local Cobra club, and ask.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfa02 View Post
my Last Cobra? will be an ERA 289FIA.
Not to get off track, but I have first dibs on the one here in SC


Bill S.
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Old 11-13-2021, 11:30 AM
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Bill S. Lets say west coast me, east coast you, (a White & Maroon one maybe ). Cheers Tom.

Last edited by Alfa02; 11-13-2021 at 11:32 AM..
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Old 11-13-2021, 12:14 PM
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ERA usually has an open house Christmas party coming up soon...If your close to ERA its worth the trip and im sure there will be a 289 in some sort of build stage to view
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Old 11-13-2021, 01:02 PM
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The lead times on new kits are a year at least, then two to build it yourself. Do you really want to look at what will be or just buy one and drive it? If fabrication is your thing then buy a kit. If you want to drive a Cobra before you get tired of assembly, then just buy a sorted out finished car.
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Old 11-14-2021, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Alfa02 View Post
@ChrisBlair, sounds like you get the "It will kill you every time out" we try to stress that, before you buy one, afterwards maybe too late . Bill S., Tony, PatrickT, and many others have been owners for years, and know with what they speak. I consider myself a "Good Driver" have won 2-Natorial Championship in SCCA, been a vintage racer for 16years, Auto-Xed, Pro-rallyed etc. But driving a Cobra, is SO VERY DIFFERENT, then anything else I've driven, from the highest HP Big Block, to the "Little" 289 street, every one of them Whispered, as you're putting the key in "Respect me or I'll kill you" again words to live by. Karl or (Ol'Karlos) to me, is right, my Last Cobra? will be an ERA 289FIA. As everyone stated buy a Pre-Owned one, so you can use it right away, I spent 5years building my first one, years I'll never get back (66YO) Even a built one will give you hours of fun wrenching on them (They like to rattle themself loose ). I've belonged to a lot of car clubs over the years, seem like there was "Always" a pecking order, not so with us, we all love Cobras, and yours is no better than his, just different. I'm glad you reached out to us, Good Guys here, and will help anyway we can Cheers TommyRot.
Roger that
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Old 11-14-2021, 11:43 AM
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Chris,

It sounds like you get it in relative terms, and that you are going in to this with your eyes wide open. This is a good start, but to add to it, as Alpha02 above has, a Cobra is unlike any other car you have ever driven, even with my 20+ years in SCCA/NASA/NHRA racing, I was unprepared for my first (I've owned more than a few since then, with over 100K miles of road and track time under my belt with them) Cobra (an early FFR with a simple 351W/385HP Ford crate engine). I was lucky enough to have survived with little more than my dignity rumpled. It taught me I was not quite as prepared as I thought, but a slow, methodical learning curve had me tearing around Poconos combined infield course and beyond in no time at all. Take it slow, enjoy the ride, and you'll be just fine. As for the car itself, again, take your time, if you are unsure of what you are looking at, reach out to us here, or perhaps a local Cobra club, and ask.



Not to get off track, but I have first dibs on the one here in SC


Bill S.

When I typed my response to you, I figured it was 50/50 you'd get mad. You know how car forums can go. But I reasoned, we have to be adults here, and we don't know each other, so just be up front and you can't go far wrong.

In my shooting hobby, the first thing I do before I touch a firearm is to remember that I don't know it all, and that I can make a serious and deadly mistake. That's why I barely touched a firearm for almost two years after my stroke and then it was to maintain and clean, not shoot.

Last year, Jay Leno drove an original 427 S/C Cobra and he said "this car is like driving a hand grenade". I find that easy to beleive. I think I can sum up- a Cobra gives you the test first, and it teaches you the lesson afterwards.

That's a thing that attracts me to the car. Many adult activities do require a level of responsibility and attention to what you're doing. That's part of the reward in doing it.
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Last edited by ChrisBlair; 11-14-2021 at 12:05 PM..
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Old 11-14-2021, 11:45 AM
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ERA usually has an open house Christmas party coming up soon...If your close to ERA its worth the trip and im sure there will be a 289 in some sort of build stage to view
I'm in Eastern MA so that's really not too far at all. Thanks for the tip!
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Old 11-14-2021, 11:46 AM
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I have had my BDR for ten years and attribute my survival to having ridden motorcycles for more than thirty years before quitting and getting one with four wheels. Every time I go for a drive I realize that I am as vulnerable on the road as I was when I was riding a bike. My full attention is on what I am doing and the environment I am in. Both hands are on the steering wheel and my eyes look for potential jeopardy to my safety especially when I think that another driver doesn't seem to see my car. I value the fact that I survived all those years on motorcycles so that I can drive my BDR in my golden years and want to continue to do so for the rest of my natural life. It is true that this car demands your full attention and awareness in order to maintain control. If you prefer to drive with one arm hanging outside of the door I think it looks pretty cool when driving a pickup but not so in one of these cars.
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Old 11-14-2021, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by twobjshelbys View Post
The lead times on new kits are a year at least, then two to build it yourself. Do you really want to look at what will be or just buy one and drive it? If fabrication is your thing then buy a kit. If you want to drive a Cobra before you get tired of assembly, then just buy a sorted out finished car.
As I say, I will be looking to buy a completed example.

While I'd like to build- I find it fun- my recent medical adventure makes dedicated builds like that frustrating instead of fun so that is no-go. I used to happily drive an hour after work to my shop, work on my car till midnight, then drive an hour and a half home, shower eat sleep and get up at 5am to go to work. The satisfaction was icing on the cake. That was then.

Nowadays an hour of real wrench turning can be a problem, let alone 5 or 6. The effects of stoke are very difficult to describe in a way that's meaningful to somebody who has not experienced it so I rarely try. If I could do that I'd write a book on it and get rich lol. Plus I no longer have the 60x40 shop space anyway, and I'll never find that deal again- 200 bucks a month.

Just like the days of me picking up cast iron 455 blocks are over, my days of marathon building are over, and I want to drive the car before I die! Those are things I used to do. I'm sort of OK with that.
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Old 11-14-2021, 12:04 PM
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I have had my BDR for ten years and attribute my survival to having ridden motorcycles for more than thirty years before quitting and getting one with four wheels. Every time I go for a drive I realize that I am as vulnerable on the road as I was when I was riding a bike. My full attention is on what I am doing and the environment I am in. Both hands are on the steering wheel and my eyes look for potential jeopardy to my safety especially when I think that another driver doesn't seem to see my car. I value the fact that I survived all those years on motorcycles so that I can drive my BDR in my golden years and want to continue to do so for the rest of my natural life. It is true that this car demands your full attention and awareness in order to maintain control. If you prefer to drive with one arm hanging outside of the door I think it looks pretty cool when driving a pickup but not so in one of these cars.
If it wasn't a gauranteed funeral in my neck of the woods, I would have been into bikes for sure.
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Old 11-14-2021, 12:06 PM
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I will reiterate the advice of a 289 car vs the 427 car. I had always preferred the look of the 427 style. But the large displacement engine never was happy running on the streets, and barely got satisfied on the freeways. You simply can't satisfy its desire for air and fuel unless it's on a track at wide open throttle. It always felt it needed the cobwebs blown out. The large engines aren't happy unless running at higher RPMs and to satisfy that the 5 speed transmission was a waste of time. I spent virtually most of the time in 3rd and 4th just to keep the revs up.

I understand why Shelby wanted the big block in the car, but in essence the Cobra is a frame wrapped around an engine with the sole purpose of moving that engine around a track.

The 289 matches the Cobra much better for street use.
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Old 11-14-2021, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by twobjshelbys View Post
I will reiterate the advice of a 289 car vs the 427 car. I had always preferred the look of the 427 style. But the large displacement engine never was happy running on the streets, and barely got satisfied on the freeways. You simply can't satisfy its desire for air and fuel unless it's on a track at wide open throttle. It always felt it needed the cobwebs blown out. The large engines aren't happy unless running at higher RPMs and to satisfy that the 5 speed transmission was a waste of time. I spent virtually most of the time in 3rd and 4th just to keep the revs up.

I understand why Shelby wanted the big block in the car, but in essence the Cobra is a frame wrapped around an engine with the sole purpose of moving that engine around a track.

The 289 matches the Cobra much better for street use.
That is probably why, Shelby said he preferred the 428 over the 427! I believe his even had an automatic transmission. A plain 428 street car will stand out in the sea of S/C cars. He also said the last of the 289 Cobra's were the best. When it came time for Carrol to have his last Cobra made, a CSX8000, what did he order, a roller rocker 302 and an auto tranny. I guise that about says it all!
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