It’s around fifty years since Carroll Shelby shoehorned an American Ford V8 engine into a British AC Ace chassis to create the original Cobra, yet if you flick through any of the kit car magazines you will find a number of cobra replica manufacturers.
So why are Shelby Cobra replicas still supremely popular and why do kit manufacturers feel the need to include one in their stable? Especially when designing a modern car has never been easier, thanks to the ease of use of CAD software.
Well, for many cobra enthusiasts, this has been one of the problems. See, with the modern cars being offered by mainstream manufacturers having a very similar look and feel, drivers are looking back to the golden age of sports motoring to regain some of the lost excitement.
Not to mention that the Cobra is still a stunning looking machine. Park one up on a sunny day and watch as people of all ages come to take a look. I’m not just talking about nostalgic old men trying to capture their youth; plenty of young guns appreciate the sweeping curves and low slung stance of a typical cobra clone.
But while the Cobra is truly a feast for the eyes, fire one up and listen to the deep growl of an untamed V8 engine impatiently waiting to scream away from the lights leaving all manner of modern day exotica in its wake.
Because at its heart, a cobra kit car is a full blooded, uncompromising sports machine. They are a mere fraction of the weight of most modern family cars, yet possess a power to weight ratio to get even the most jaded weekend racers heart pumping.
With a wide wheelbase and squat, low centre of gravity, the Cobra is designed to stick to the tarmac as you flick it round the twisties along your favourite country road. And isn’t that what driving is all about?
Cobra Replica Kit Cars
So if you are looking for a fairly authentic replica cobra you’ll be pleased to discover a whole host of quality kit car manufacturers lining up to separate you from your hard earned cash.
The Pilgrim Sumo was the kit chosen by Mark Evans for his ‘A Car Is born’ series which covered building a cobra replica kit car from scratch. They are a quality kit and I would suggest you check them out before you make your final decision. The TV series is available on DVD from Amazon if you live in the UK. Sadly, it will not play on US DVD players, sorry.
The Cobretti Viper is another quality kit that has stood the test of time, over 20 years in production and counting. The kit is based loosely around a Jaguar donor but plenty have been produced using 3.5l Rover engines as well as the usual selection of big block V8s or Chevy 350 cu in powerplants. The Cobretti tends to be a little heavier than most cobra replicas but this only adds to the solid handling and feeling of reassurance when you put your foot down.
Overall, the Shelby Cobra was an iconic piece of motoring history and I’m sure we’ll still be seeing cobra replica kit cars for many years to come.