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						Backdraft Rt4 2
Backdraft's Redesigned RT4 Roadster

Backdraft Racing's RT4 Cobra Roadster

Text and Photos by Joe Greeves

In the world of replica roadsters, it’s all about carving out your niche and making it stick. With unique visual elements and modern OEM underpinnings, Backdraft Racing’s RT4 and RT4B roadsters are definitely some of the most novel offerings in the market, exemplified by this radical RT4 roadster we got up close and personal with earlier this year.

The company’s race heritage dates back to 2001, when a pair of world champion auto racers, Tony Martin and Reg Dodd, decided to produce Cobra replicas in South Africa, then market them from their 20,000 square-foot facility in Boynton Beach, Florida. Over the last two decades, their turnkey minus cars have appeared with dozens of styling and performance variations on the original theme. BDR fiberglass bodies are fairly close to the original using a slightly longer 92-inch wheelbase and wider 67.5-inch stance. BDR also improved on the replica format with their thoroughly modern (complete with warranty) BMW underpinnings. And it’s the modified suspension that marks the most significant difference in Backdraft’s latest offering, the RT4.

Based on BMW’s 2014 suspension, the first thing to note is there are no used or remanufactured parts. All components in the strut-style front suspension and independent rear are brand-new, ensuring modern, responsive handling. Also in response to recent customer demand, BDR has reengineered their rear suspension system for increased strength and durability. The company noticed that customers were looking for higher and higher horsepower cars; where 500 hp used to be considered big, it’s now considered entry level against the 700 and 800 hp cars its customers desire. In real world performance however, the extra horsepower does not appreciably change anything since 500 hp is already more than enough to launch the 2,400 pound car like an artillery round! But you know what they say, if some horsepower is good, than too much is just about right.

There are other subtle variations in the RT4 as well. The floors are steel rather than fiberglass, allowing for a recessed foot box that provides more pedal room. Cosmetic revisions have also been made throughout, with several areas on the car blacked out, or featuring bold accents colors as a styling touch. An AutoXCross Yellow gauge package from Classic Instruments is arrayed across the carbon fiber dash, complete with oversized tachometer and pushbutton starter. The yellow and black shift knob and a Sabelt black Italian suede steering wheel with yellow lettering continues the theme. Backdraft also incorporates a custom center console and supportive bucket seats, wrapped in double-stitched black leather.

For exterior touches, this roadster rolls on 18-inch Halibrand-style wheels with loud yellow letters on the Nitto NT555G2 rubber. The Grigio Telesto paint scheme and yellow center stripe team up with the aggressive-looking, matte-finish side pipes to complete the look.

Although all BDR roadsters arrive minus a powertrain, they are designed to use traditional Ford components. The company has a long-standing connection in South Florida with Speed Fanatix Inc. in Boynton Beach, Florida. They’ve been operating since 2005 as a dedicated engine installer for Cobra replica cars, and all of their engines are verified on the dyno and come with a warranty. Buyers can choose from a variety of performance packages to accommodate both budget and horsepower goals. Speed Fanatix installed their Iconic 427 engine and TREMEC T5 transmission package in this car, a popular choice priced at $20,000.

With classic looks and scorching performance, the 10:1 compression engine starts with a Dart block that’s fitted with an Edelbrock intake and heads, a 770 cfm Street Avenger carburetor, MSD electronics and custom headers. Other custom touches include Iconic’s front accessories and eye-catching yellow accents on the air cleaner, valve covers and plug wires. The stout V8 sends 480 hp through the T5 out to 11.5-inch wide Nitto rubber.

With the RT4 upgrade package and the 427 Iconic V8 under the hood, this roadster is priced at $76,500. The combination of race car competence and daily-driver ride quality is a bonus to Backdraft Racing buyers, many of whom don’t use their cars on the track, but love the car’s racing heritage. BDR has an active race program where they assess the validity of all their product upgrades, testing and evaluating them under track conditions. Company President Reg Dodd is happy to report that they have difficulty keeping RT4s on the floor. As quickly as they arrive, they are sold, thanks to word of mouth and social media spreading the word.

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Backdraft Racing Cobra