By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Facebook Marketplace

It’s often true that you get what you pay for. I learned that lesson personally on a $3,000 BMW, a $40 torque wrench and other questionable purchases. But I’ve also gotten my fair share of good deals, and it often comes down to doing your homework to determine whether you’re looking at a bargain or a bust.

Where your opinions lie on this $4,000 Cobra kit likely has a lot to do with your personal experiences, as well as the depth of your project car fund. If you have a big name Shelby replica in your stable, then it probably doesn’t pay to read on. But if your project car aspirations are a bit more frugal, by all means, dive into the details of this bargain-bin roadster with me.

This Cobra is rough and it’s sketchy, there’s no two ways about it, but if you’ve got more skills than bills (of the cash money sort), I think there may actually be a decent Cobra hiding in this parts pile.

The seller has no clue on who originally manufactured the kit, so you’re left with only clues on that front. It’s also pretty crude by modern standards, with excess fiberglass at its panel edges. That being said, the body does appear accurate enough to make a decent looking Cobra.

To go with the mystery body, the seller is also vague on the details of the chassis, other than that it’s a custom job. There isn't much to see in the photos, but you should probably count on significant reworking or rebuilding of the chassis. With those details in mind, there’s definitely a limited pool of talented folks who should seriously consider this car. But for those chosen few, there is value here.

It goes without saying, that your average Cobra kit fetches $35,000 to $45,000 — likely a little less when you’re looking at a car with murky details like this one. While this car will always be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, there’s nothing stopping it from being a $25,000 car with the right work done.

The seller has also supplied a Ford 289 ci engine and C4 transmission, which you could use or sell. Personally, I’d overhaul the 289 and cut the C4 lose in favor of a four-speed, TopLoader or TREMEC. I’d bet there’s also a usable 9-inch, or 8-inch rear axle under the car as well. But for all the other mechanical and cosmetic items, I’d assume you’re on your own.

With this car, you basically need to consider your skill level and how it could stack up against other cars in the $20,000 range when finished — keeping your time and dollar investment in mind. I probably wouldn’t pick this Cobra as the start to a serious, bucks-up build, but I think there’s a great budget builder here if you’ve got the skills. Get crafty with parts sourcing by using off-the-shelf parts like a stock Mustang T5 instead of a new unit. And instead of investing in a full windshield, make a small Plexiglas race screen like so many original Shelbys had.

Get crafty, and get weird with it, and you could have a great car in the end.

For just $4,000, this car may not last long. Check it out here on Facebook Marketplace in Baytown, Texas.