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						Minilite Cobra 8
It’s the Little Things

Cleveland-powered Cobra on Minilite mag wheels

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

For many Cobra owners, it’s the appeal of doing it your own way that’s the main driver, rather than crafting a painstaking tribute to a storied ’60s racer. Either avenue is a just one, and we’re into just about any Cobra that does its thing well. The builder of this Factory Five roadster on Craigslist definitely opted to create their own rendition, and the result is a thoroughly unique Cobra with some rarely seen features.

To your average passerby, this Cobra wouldn’t stick out too much in a crowd of roadsters at the London Cobra Show, or the Huntington Beach Cruise In. But even the casual Cobra connoisseur will take note of a few interesting characteristics from the exterior. For one, the roadster sports an unusual, but fitting wheel selection, Minilite mag-style wheels, in large diameters.

Designed in 1962 by John Ford and Derek Power in England, the Minilite alloy wheel is iconic for its lightweight eight-spoke design. As an alternative to stock and wire wheels of the period, original Minilite magnesium wheels saved weight, and the eight-spoke design forced air directly across the brakes, keeping them cooler at the track. Minilites were sold in all the popular diameters of the day, and could be seen on period-correct racers from Mini and Lotus, all the way up to full-size muscle cars like the Mustang.

By the early 1970s Minilites were offered in safer and more workable aluminum alloys. Minilite still sells its iconic wheels today in the U.K., and the design has been used by numerous other wheel manufacturers over the years (much to Minilite’s chagrin). Given the history and widespread use of the Minilite wheel in period, it’s surprising that we don’t see more Cobras sporting these wheels.

Another thing you’ll quickly notice on this Cobra, is that the rear tires are fat, really fat. Sized 315/35R17 on a 17 x 11 wheel, these rears are bigger than most, and the owner claims that it’s the 2004 Cobra rear axle that allows the car to run 315s without rubbing.

There’s also a little something special under the hood. Fit with a plain black air cleaner and valve covers, the engine is rather unassuming to the uninitiated. But blue oval fans will easily recognize the coveted 351 Cleveland under the hood, thanks to its large intake runners and block-routed upper radiator hose.

“Engine is an extremely rare 351C 4 bolt block and Boss heads from a 1971 Pantera.” — Seller, Craigslist

It’s unclear from the seller’s description exactly how much of the 351C originally resided in a De Tomaso Pantera, but either way, it’s a stout unit. Decked out with a Comp Cam, 10:1 forged pistons, adjustable valvetrain and a Holley intake, the Ford 335-series engine should provide more than enough grunt in the lightweight Cobra.

A TREMEC TKO500 transmission directs power to the rear, and is controlled by an unconventional shifter. Possibly due to the length of the Cleveland driveline, or maybe just based on driver preference, the shifter uses a dummy shifter further forward, which is attached to a machined rod that actually handles the gear shifts. It’s unconventional for sure, and kinda steam punk, but functional looking.

If these unique touches weren’t enough for you, this Cobra has one other hidden feature — quick jacks. The seller doesn’t provide any more information or photos of the jacks, but the onboard pneumatics would be a nice party trick any time the Cobra needs servicing.

Aside from nice paint and a great side-pipe soundtrack, it’s the little things that help make a car unique, and the details on this car let it stick out in a crowd. See the seller’s ad here on Sacramento Craigslist.

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351 Cleveland Cobra Wheels