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Kirkham Motorsports

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Old 10-09-2018, 07:49 PM
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Default My number is coming up at ERA, options / order advice?

Some time ago I sent a check to ERA for $5,000 and they sent me the build manual for a 289 FIA car and Peter told me I'll likely have ERA 2159. ERA appear to be building car 2157 right now so it looks like I'll be up before too long. I've always been of the opinion that advice never hurts, so I figured I'd come and ask the veterans if there are any "must have" options that should for sure be ordered with the car.

I'm going to throw out there that I am a mechanic, I don't make a lot of money so this is an extremely budget oriented build. I plan on doing nearly everything myself. I know that having ERA bond the body would save me a lot of pain, but I don't think I'll have the extra $2k to have them do it for me so I'll probably even be doing that myself. Honestly, I'm really hoping at this point that I can move enough funds around to just be able to buy the kit and don't have to skip out to 2160 or 2161.

So far what I have on the order is:
-bare bones 289 FIA kit
-upgrade to street seats (because it'll be a lot more expensive to do later, I'll swap in a Kirkey vintage seat on track days)
-heater / defroster (because my wife said that I have to, and seeing she's letting me build the thing I better listen)
Other than that there's trunk dimples, an FIA dash and I think they have something in there about installing the roll bar

The master plan involves a lot of ordering things like the steering column, oil cooler, 6 pin hubs, rear suspension subframe and all of the small stuff as I have the money to buy it.

I guess what I'm mainly looking for is, keeping budget in mind, is there anything that should absolutely be ordered with the car, or any options that I'd really be a fool to skip out on.

Thanks for reading. I've been looking forward to building a Cobra since I was 14 years old so I'm extremely excited about it.
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:58 PM
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I'm not sure if it matters or not, but I have already built a 302 for it, have a TKO 600 on standby and have the rear suspension cut out of a Jag.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:44 PM
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forget the heater/defroster to save money. i dont have one but don't imagine it would work very well.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:46 PM
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I live in Colorado and have an ERA 427 with a heater.....never used it. Definitely a place to save a few $.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:48 PM
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I doubt you will need the oil cooler either if you have a high capacity oil pan, unless you are tracking the car.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:31 AM
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The oil cooler you could probably skip. If your wife is insistent on the heater and defroster, do it now. It does add some heat and if you decide to drive on a cool day she may appreciate it. If you do not put it in now, she might ask for it later and I installed a heater/defroster unit post build on a used ERA that i bought due to NYS inspection regulations and it was a PITA to do once the car was complete.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:21 AM
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I put in a heater/defroster to pass the state inspection. It is not effective at all except when sitting still so I wouldn't put one in unless necessary. If your wife is looking for warmth, heated seats are the way to go. My wife loves them and stays nice and comfortable with a blanket on her lap in colder weather. So, if you like the idea of your wife accompanying you on rides, they extend the driving season considerably.

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Old 10-10-2018, 05:32 AM
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I agree with Kevin. I have had a heater in a couple of Cobras and took them out because they just didn't do much good. Maybe they would help if you have a top but I never had one. Heated seats are definitely the way I would go if I were to ever get another one.

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Old 10-10-2018, 05:44 AM
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Thinking about resale, I would think a factory attached body to frame would aleveiate a
prospective buyers concern about the quality of that bond .
I know probably most of us have done some small F/G jobs, and I am not familiar with the
ERA to know how complex that job might be, but that would be an area of concern for me.
What's your F/G experience level ?
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:50 AM
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I built a 427 a few years ago and tried to do as much as I could myself as well. Mounting the body is a great way to save money and is certainly something you can handle. I did a lot of research on the epoxy and selected GelMagic from System 3 with the slow (summer) hardener to allow lots of time for adjustments. You will just need to get a few friends to help you remove and install the body. (I used 4 or 5 helpers since it goes easier if you have someone to spread the rocker panel areas while dropping the body over the frame. Unless the manual has been updated, it is not very good on describing the mounting process since it reflects the old body design.
While I had the body off, I flipped it over and painted the entire underside with a satin black color.
I agree that the oil cooler is useless for the street. I spent an extra $1000 to install an oil thermostat to keep the oil warm enough on mine! But - it looks fantastic!
Building the rear suspension will also save some money but you might have to get ERA to modify some parts for you. I built mine but ERA supplied all the hardware.
I would definitely spring for the powder coated chassis. Excellent protection and includes coating several other parts. Will make the whole car look more complete and ups the quality of the build.
I also recommend opting for the trunk mounted battery if that is available for the 289. Makes life easier under the hood for access to the engine and for battery swaps.

Last edited by ERA 778; 10-10-2018 at 06:37 AM..
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:29 AM
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Loving all of the input so far.

I should have mentioned before but as soon as I have the money I want to buy a LeMans top from Mr Bruce. Watching videos from Goodwood is what ended up making me change my mind and go with an FIA instead of a 427, that's the look I'm going for. Even if my wife didnt make the heater mandatory I think the defrosters might help with windshield fog in certain seasons. I know in my 67 GMC a small amount if warm air can really clear my windshield up. I know I didnt mention the lemans top before but does this change any stances on the heater or is it still useless?

Also, I think the trunk mount battery is standard on the FIA but I'll check with Peter next time I talk to him. Thanks for bringing this up, I for sure want the battery in the rear.

As for heated seats, is this something that can be done to the ERA seats or would I have to buy different ones? I hear ERA's street seats are some of the best around.

For the oil cooler, I guess I'll get the car running and install after the fact if I really need it. At track days the most I rin right now is 3 or 4, 20 minute sessions spaced about an hour apart so the large oil pan should be fine.

I'll look into the powder coated chassis. If ERA will bond the body fir me and let me do all of the riveting and other stuff I'd be happy to let them do it if it costs less, maybe I'll ask Peter if this could work?

If I do end up bonding the body I plan on making a video so others planning a build can see what it's all about. Then you all can point out what I did wrong. If it happens maybe I'll make another post and ask if there is anyone around WI has bonded a body and would want to come and supervise in exchange for dinner. We will see.

Thank for the advise so far, keep it coming.

Last edited by Bearwolf; 10-10-2018 at 07:52 AM..
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:44 AM
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I have every option that is available, except the window washer spritzer bag and wool carpeting, and most of them you don't need, and a lot of them you'd never even know were on there. If you're watching the cost, make your decision on something based on how hard/costly it is to add it in the future. The costliest upgrade, should you choose to do it later, is the pin drive hubs and wheels. So make that decision now carefully. You don't need the ERA outboard braked rear, and you don't need a heater/defroster. You don't need heated seats either, just get your wife a 12v powered electric blanket and she can use that -- it actually is better than heated seats. You don't need wool carpeting, leather seats are another "that will cost you later, so think" but not as much as the pin drive choice. High-end gauges, mahogany steering wheels with quick release hubs, over-the-top big brakes, extra large cooling fan(s), you don't need any of that and you can always add it later. Rear sway bar, later. Oil cooler, later (I like mine and use it). Powder coating and body bonding are a now or never choice. Stuff like the Girling reservoirs, "accurate" knobs and switches, all that can wait until later. You can ceramic coat your pipes later, let that wait. Sun visors and wind wings, later. Seat belts... ehrrr, better get those now.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:02 AM
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Some states will require the defroster. I had one (the heater too) and wondered what for until I was in a rain storm and the inside window fogged up. That's why they are required in some places. Don't skimp on it.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twobjshelbys View Post
Some states will require the defroster. I had one (the heater too) and wondered what for until I was in a rain storm and the inside window fogged up. That's why they are required in some places. Don't skimp on it.
The way some guys get around that little nuisance is to buy 12v powered portable hair dryers and run them with a little flexible hose for the inspection.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:39 AM
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OK, I've read this a little more carefully.

I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but someone has to say it. I'm sure others are thinking the same thing.

If you are so strapped for money that you can't afford to have the body mounted to the frame and have to wait to buy a steering column and wheels, I would say that the chances of a successful build are practically nil. Do yourself a favor and instead of buying pieces and parts over time, put the money into a savings account until you can afford a complete kit. Too many other things will happen in your life over the 5 or 6 years it will take you to pull all the pieces together, and I'd wager that in 3 or 4 years we'll see an uncompleted kit in the for sale section.

Whatever your decision, good luck.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:44 AM
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There is one other way. Fly to either Atlantic City, or Las Vegas, and take a cashier's check for every cent that you've saved up for this build. Talk to the croupier and tell him "I want to bet this on one cut of the deck, double or nothing, and a tie goes to the house." If you win, then you'll get the car that you wanted, and if you lose, well then it just wasn't meant to be.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:02 AM
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To clarify, I am not throwing every cent I have at it, I'm on this budget because after looking at my numbers this is what I'm comfortable with while keeping some in reserve for things that come up. Though the advise to not follow through with my life long dream is probably solid advise, I'm still going to go ahead and follow through with it. I've built other cars on a tight budget and still managed. I could probably sell my 23 t bucket, 62 impala ss, 68 camaro or 67 GMC and build the thing with cash, but for now the plan is simply to build the Cobra on a budget, little by little as finances allow. I'm definatly going to look into the 12v hair dryer approach. A 12v electric blanket probably would hi old be way better for the wife than a heater.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:30 AM
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If watching the budget don't worry about bonding the body yourself. The stories about the difficulty in this mostly related to early models. With the newer models, it's no big deal. Just get a good epoxy with a moderate working time so that you don't have to get in a big hurry. Prepare the bonding surfaces by sanding and blowing clean and get some loadable caulking tubes to load the mixed epoxy in so you can inject it into the bond areas. The panels are similarly no big deal. They are pre-fitted and drilled by ERA regardless so you just have to align the holes and rivet away. There will be a few areas that are a little tight and a couple holes that may need a bit of massaging - but no big deal. A air operated rivet gun does help out with hand cramps.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:52 AM
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I guess I am the odd one on this. I live in Colorado and want to really drive my Cobra as much as possible. I ordered my ERA 427 with not only a heater/defroster but with heated seats, a top and side curtains.

You might want to buy a used ERA. Does Wisconsin have emissions testing? I would have bought a used ERA but getting a used car through Colorado emissions testing made it a nonstarter. Cars here must meet emissions in effect for the year of registration.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:23 AM
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I don't recognized the OP's handle here, but I believe I know who he is, and that's he's been to my home and been given a ride in my ERA (: Funny enough, my ERA is nearly identical to what he wants to end up with. I'd sell him mine, be he seems to be a hands-on kind of guy who wants to build his own. I can't fault that at all.

If I was building on a budget, here are some considerations I can think of:
1. vinyl vs leather seats
2. No carpet or door panels (this is an FIA afterall)
3. Forget the heater
4. Forget the oil cooler (coincidentally, I just bypassed mine recently and it's the best thing I did. Even with the additional oil cooler thermostat it still allowed enough volume by to not ever effectively heat up the oil to engine temp, even on a HOT summer day.)
5. Rear end has already been mentioned
6. STD street brakes work well. If you are tracking the car, you can put together better pads and rotors. You can fab some cooling ducts, too. You may not need the larger competition rotors.
7. Track the car without paint. You could drive the car a couple seasons and paint it later. You may enjoy tracking it much more without a nice paint job to worry about.
8. Wings and visors are nice on the street, but you could add these later, too.
9. Maybe consider using gauges other than the SW? They don't necessarily work all that awesome anyway.

You didn't mention if you were going for a period correct look or not, so there may be things you can't consider leaving out.

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Last edited by 66gtk; 10-10-2018 at 11:26 AM..
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