A Few Thoughts on “All These Cobra Kit Cars.”

Posted October 25, 2018

By Dean Larson

Some people are turned off by our program here at ReinCarNation by the amount of Shelby Cobra replicas we feature. And while we try to accommodate all forms of homebuilt, replica and kit cars we dig, the Cobra will always be a big part of our focus. People love the Cobra, and it’s without a doubt the most popular kit car to ever be produced. Whether you’re a fan of the Cobra or not, it’s easy to understand the proliferation of Cobra kits when you consider the perfect storm of factors that contribute to its popularity.

The most obvious, is that a Cobra replica allows many the opportunity to own their dream car. Whether you lusted for the originals as a kid in the ’60s, or fell in love with the Cobra shape in the ’90s, a Cobra kit (be it assembled or unassembled) is your most accessible route to the Cobra experience. There’s also plenty of history to relish in when you consider the chicken farmer’s triumphs with the original Cobras and Daytona Coupes. Heroes like Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Dan Gurney and countless others accomplished feats behind the wheel of these cars that rival fiction, and brought the U.S. to the forefront of international competition.

Shell Valley 8317

Another interesting factor to consider is the Cobra kit’s viability as a project car platform compared to new vehicles or classic restoration projects. Let’s face facts, it’s tough to buy an exciting performance vehicle new these days, especially one that’s rear-wheel-drive and on a budget. Cobra replicas offer a thrilling, analog driving experience free from ABS-, ESC-, ESP-, MP3-nonsense, and building a Cobra also beats restoring a rusted-out classic for many people’s schedules and abilities. Also, highly engineered replicas provide great platforms for all types of performance driving; consider the 1,000-hp drift Cobra built by V’s Automotive, or Snap-On’s aerodynamic Gen 3 FFR coupe race car and Ted Taormina’s 201.1-mph Superformance roadster.

Lastly, Cobra kits, and all kit cars in general, fulfill that deep-rooted desire in us all to build something with our own hands. Not unlike the Legos or Erector Sets you had as a kid, the Cobra kit provides the raw materials to be dutifully assembled to your own vision and specification. And while assembling boxy toy cars and simple metal cranes was thrilling at eight years old, it simply can’t compete with a V8-powered, tire-screeching roadster of your own construction.

In the end it’s all worthwhile. Toiling in the garage for many hours, converting time that would otherwise be spent idly in front of a screen, into productivity. Productivity that will soon give rise to a functional work of art and inspire jealousy in the neighborhood. And when an inquiring onlooker asks where you got such an awesome ride, you can confidently proclaim, “I built it myself.”

But really, whether it’s a Cobra, 356 Speedster or a rusty ’91 F-150, the joy is getting out in the garage and making it happen. So hopefully this two-minute pep talk inspired you get it done. And when it is done, be sure to email me about it at dean.larson@colepublishing.com.

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Cobra Shelby Cobra