To the Editor

Stories and photos submitted by mail from our faithful readers
Posted April 11, 2018

By Dean Larson

Many of you are familiar with this magazine’s rich history serving the market under the titles Kit Car Builder and Car Builder. As times changed, the magazine changed, and its proprietors were forced to move to an online-only format, but unfortunately, many readers who were not best served by this change. In 2016, the magazine was acquired by COLE Publishing, and we’ve been committed to providing our loyal readers with print and digital options from that point on.

Every so often, an envelope lands on my desk from readers like these who are elated to receive a free, print version of the magazine, and they also usually share a bit about themselves and their cars. Since scanning physical photos and corresponding through snail mail isn’t always the most convenient for writing, these stories often go untold. As I was riffling through some items in the corner of my desk today and ended up going through all these letters and decided this shouldn’t be the case. The following is a collection of photos and stories that have been sent in by our readers over the last couple years.

Fiberfab Centurion

John W. and his Fiberfab Centurion

Among my favorite photos ever sent in are the shots of this Fiberfab Centurion sent in by its original owner. John W. purchased the car new and spent three years building it, completing it in the early ’60s. John says the car went through three more owners before being stored in a barn for 15 years. It was then discovered and built into the drag car seen in the second photo. The print on the side reads “Kirk Bros. Wild Thang.” The car was eventually retired from the strip, and John hasn’t seen it since.

The early photo John sent us is an original copy from back in the 1960s. The car has a flake paintjob, Cragar SS wheels and some wicked side pipes. Thanks John for your story.

Centurion Drag Car

Dale H. and his Mid-State Auto Cobra

Dale H. from Oregon sent in several photos of his early Mid-State Auto Cobra. Dale bought the car back in 1989 and has since put on 9,000 miles and done many upgrades to the car, including a set of pin-drive Halibrand wheels and a hardwood dash and center console. Powering the car is a Ford 351 Windsor, no slouch, but Dale says he wouldn’t mind a few more ponies in the corral. Thanks for the letter Dale, and for your service to our country.  

John M. and his 16-year veteran Cobra

After an extensive build process, John M. of Washington has been driving and improving his Cobra for 16 years. He first constructed the car with a GM 454 with aluminum heads and a Turbo-400 automatic. But in 2007, the old GM driveline was lifted and replaced with a GM ZZ4 350 disguised with Ford valve covers. In 2010, John once again pulled the engine, settling on a 480 hp LS3 crate with a TKO-600 five speed. Going along with his powertrain improvements, John upgraded to six-piston Baer brakes on all four corners and an improved rear anti-roll bar.

John regularly flogs his Cobra and enjoys long distance trips, including the 500-mile day trip around Mount Rainier included in his photos. Thanks for all the photos John, and while it might be a little late, we got your photo in to next month’s photo contest.

Mr. Kickert’s faithful 5.0 Cobra

Mr. Kickert of Florida sent in this photo of his Cobra roadster he’s owned since 1992. After completing the car in 1994, Kickert has been driving his car on the street and taking it to track events regularly. The Cobra is powered by a 400 hp, 7000 rpm Ford 5.0 roller-cam motor, and rides on full coilover suspension with a narrowed 9-inch rear end. Rowing the five-speed trans just right, Kickert posted his top quarter-mile pass of 11.97 @ 117 mph at Gainesville in 1996.

Cobra Kit

Tom Gehweiler’s Hawaiian “Nightmare” Lamborghini replica

According to Tom Gehweiler and his wife, spotting exotic cars on Hawaii’s Big Island is a rare occurrence. For this reason, they both remember the exact moment they first laid eyes on this 1988 Lamborghini Countach replica back in 2000. The black Countach passed them at a traffic light, and Tom and his wife questioned at the same time, “Was that a Lamborghini?”

Thirteen years passed, and the two would occasionally speak about the Countach, until one day Tom though he caught a glimpse of the car hiding in some weeds in a yard. The car was covered in junk and beat on by the Hawaiian elements for the last 13 years, but Tom was indeed looking at the car that left an impression on him years before. After speaking with the owner, they learned that the car was purchased sight unseen, and its new owner took delivery of the car and was driving it home that day back in 2000. The car had been sitting since then, with its new owner unable to drive it after loosing all of the car’s paperwork. Tom left his phone number in the event that the owner were able to find the lost documents, and sure enough, the Gehweiler’s phone rang just six months later.

After buying the Countach, Tom quickly found out how much the car had deteriorated mechanically and cosmetically. His wife suggested giving the car an Italian name like “Bella,” but the name “Nightmare” seemed far more appropriate. After three years of hard work, the Gehweilers finally had the running and driving Countach replica they’d wanted for so many years. The name Nightmare still sticks to this day, but we’re hoping it has more of a sinister connotation today.

Lamborghini Kit

MSgt Thomas K. and a life of kit cars

MSgt Thomas K. has been one of our most fascinating readers to correspond with. After extensive service to our country in the United States Air Force, Thomas returned home and spent his time building and enjoying British motorcycles and several kit cars. With an extensive skillset from mechanical and electrical professions, Thomas easily completed his first kit car, a Jaguar XK120 from Antique and Collectible Autos with a four-cylinder Ford engine. But his Jaguar itch was far from satisfied, and he then bought and finished a Wildcat E-Type replica with a 2,300cc engine. What he really wanted though was a Lightweight-spec E-type, so he travelled to England to talk to Wildcat about building one. Wildcat constructed new molds for the Lightweight E-Type and Thomas soon received and completed this car also. Even with all three Jaguars in his garage, Thomas couldn’t stop buying and completing cars, and a Mercedes 300 SLR, Porsche 356 and MG TD soon followed. Thomas states that he regularly drove all his cars, and they all racked up 50,000 to 60,000 miles before he sold them.

Crushed Mustang

A reader sent in this photo of a poor 6 cylinder Mustang crushed by a tree.

Comments for: To the Editor

comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories You Might Like