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						30 K Cobra Shootout 40

$30,000 Cobra Shootout

By Dean Larson

There is just something about the Shelby Cobra that resonates with generations. Its appeal has managed to extend far past those who were able to see original examples in USSRC racing in the 1960s. In fact, there are more companies building Cobra replicas today than ever before and the Cobra continues to evolve. Buyers in the Cobra market are spoiled for choice, and not just with new cars. The used Cobra market has something for most anyone, and prices range from the high $20,000s to $150,000+. But what do you get with a Cobra at the entry level of the market? We scoured the web to bring you a countdown of our favorite Cobras for $30,000. 


In the 7th slot we’ve selected this LA Exotics Cobra offered for sale on eBay at a buy-it-now price of just $30,000. Under the hood is the proven 351 Windsor that has been dressed up nicely with a Cobra air-filter cover valve covers. Finishing out the driveline is Toploader four-speed transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end. This example also has the popular Mustang II front end and power disk brakes on all four corners. The interior is complete with a stereo and full instrumentation (including a vacuum gauge).

This Cobra’s soft-top, heater and USB radio might detract from its value in terms of accuracy, but they also might make it the perfect everyday cruiser for the right buyer. The wheels on this Cobra don’t do it any favors, but could be easily changed to increase its value.


Our 6th place finisher is definitely the oddball of the group. This two-tone silver Cobra does not have a manufacturer, or many of its specifications, listed. What we do know is this Cobra has a controversial powertrain; a GM 5.3-liter LS V8 hooked to an automatic transmission. The builder also took the path less traveled on the exterior, with large chrome wheels and tubular bumpers. As for positives, this car has just 301 miles on it since completion, making it effectively a brand new car. Also good is the $29,000 price tag, certainly less than what it cost to build the car. However, this Cobra is pulled down in our shootout by a handful of negatives. The builder’s controversial engine and transmission selections drive down the car’s desirability and price. Exterior details like the imitation chrome fender vents, LS1 emblems, non-standard taillights and modern wheels would have to be changed to improve the Cobra’s curb appeal and increase its value. 


The 5th Cobra in our $30K shootout is this Cobra replica from Component Craft offered on Craigslist for just $32,000. On first inspection, the Weld Draglite wheels detract from the car’s exterior. However, the negatives end here. The 351 Windsor powers this Cobra as well, and this one has been treated to many upgrades. The engine has a slight overbore, aluminum heads, Holley 750 carb and Edelbrock intake. A claimed 374 hp and 394 ft-lbs of torque are spun through and Tremec TR-3550 transmission and Ford 9-inch rear axle with a steep 4.11 gear. The Cobra is reported to be in flawless condition inside and out and has a book complete with information on its construction. The only area of debate on the Cobra is the red seat leather, but we actually dig it. This Craigslist find represents a great value for money in our 5th place spot.


Our 4th place Cobra was carried into our contest by its asking price, the lowest in our shootout at just $27,500. There is not much information listed on this replica, but we can see that it’s propelled by a five-speed transmission and 302 with many visible upgrades. The car has 7,500 miles, the highest in our contest, but not yet through three standard oil changes. The Cobra’s paint shows nicely and its interior is, arguably, the most furnished in our shootout. The wide, non-standard roll bar and Torq Thrust wheels seem to be the only factors driving its price into the 20,000s, making this car a great value.


Third place in our $30,000 Cobra shootout goes to this nicely finished Factory Five roadster. Offered for sale on eBay for $32,995, this Cobra has just under 2,100 miles clocked and shows nicely with deep blue paint and flat-black touches. Another nicely dressed 302 powers this Cobra through a five-speed transmission. Unfortunately, this Cobra was held out of our top two for a few reasons. While the Shelby wheels on this cobra are nice looking, they look a little out of place. (If you couldn't tell, were picky when it come to wheels.) Also, the Cobra’s interior looks like it needs a cleaning and its dash is far from the best in our lineup. Lastly, this would not be the best performer in our contest with the standard 302 and rear drum brakes. 


The 2nd place car in our shootout is a Factory Five Cobra listed on eBay with an asking price of $33,997. As the second most expensive car in our contest, this Cobra better be bringing a few extras to the table. To start, the car has just 752 miles on it, making it, in fact, not even broken in yet. There appears to be a stock 5.0-liter EFI V8 under the hood, but the seller writes that it has been fitted with a stroker kit. Not much information is given on the car, but we can see that it is loaded with dual roll bars, full instrumentation by Classic Instruments and flat-black side pipes. The wheels on this Cobra are a larger diameter, but harken back to classic cobra wheel design. While they don’t ruin the look the this Cobra, we would be willing to bet a set of Halibrand-style wheels would bump this car up a price bracket.


Our selection for the best used Cobra around $30,000 is this Shell Valley Cobra for sale on Seattle Craigslist for $34,000. While it is on the top end of the price range, we would guess this Cobra could be bought for a little less. The original owner offers this car with 4,400 miles on the odometer, all receipts and an extra soft top for that Washington weather. Our 1st place finisher has to have a 1st place powertrain and this Cobra does not disappoint. The tried-and-true 351 Windsor has been spiced up with a 408 Eagle Stroker kit, aluminum heads and ceramic-coated headers and side pipes. The heaviest hitting engine in our lineup requires a tough transmission, and the Tremec TKO 600 fits the bill. Torq Thrust wheels don’t do the build any serious injustice, especially when they’re nice and wide on the back. This Cobra has a great look and plenty of performance to back it up, making it our selection for the best Cobra near $30,000. 

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