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						Shell Valley Cobra Replica 4

Shell Valley Cobra replica build

As told by Cullen McCann

Photos by Steve Link and Randy Walker

I bought my Cobra replica as a bare frame and raw body in January 2008 at Shell Valley headquarters in Nebraska, and purchased the parts and pieces directly from the company as time and money provided. I worked on it for a couple years, then took a couple years off, distracted by other projects, and then a couple years ago got back on it heavily. I built the entire car myself in my workshop except for the paint and body of the fiberglass and the engine short block. All other work was done myself over the time span of about five years, including wiring, assembly, sheet-metal work, component fitment and assembly, interior, etc. 

The build scheme is intended to be inspired by a vintage racing theme, yet with some design liberties to enhance performance, handling, comfort and modern graphic twists, such as the 17-inch wheels, Windsor motor, and braking upgrades.

The other specifics of the car are fairly straightforward with the Shell Valley kit. Front suspension is a tubular Mustang II front end (strut rod eliminated), with rack-and-pinion manual steering.

The motor was a core purchased locally and built up from scratch by Brand Racing Engines here in Mustang Oklahoma. The block is a ‘69 model, high-nickel 351 Windsor stroked to about 397 inches, thanks to a 392 stroker crank, along with a little overbore. It has a solid roller cam, Scat crank, and Brodix Track 1 heads with 2.08/1.60 valves. The intake is an Edelbrock Super Victor with a Quick Fuel 750 mechanical carb, regulator and pump. I use a “turkey pan” on it for aesthetics, but it probably provides minimal heat block or cold-air isolation.

Of course when it comes to kit cars there are no rules, but some will note that the car is a “big-block” bodied Cobra with a Windsor motor in it. The turkey pans were also unique to the big-block motors, even though the mill that I chose was more commonly found on small-block Cobras “back in the day.”

It’s cooled by Shell Valley’s aluminum radiator and has never even acted like it wanted to get too hot. I have a very high-volume Flexalite shrouded electric fan with programmable temp control and automatic shutoff on it, and a coolant-based thermostat (not a temp probe in the radiator fins).

Also under the hood is Canton Oil Pan, Melling HV oil pump, and Lakewood scatter shield. The transmission is a wide-ratio 4-speed Toploader, mated to a 3.73 gear in a Ford 9-inch, narrowed to fit the desired track width.

Rear suspension is handled via a triangulated 4-link with Shell Valley adjustable length link arms. The rear differential is a Ford Trac-lock, and it has 31 Spline Currie axles. The wheels are 17-inch Vintique Wheels, and Shell Valley provided OEM-based 4-wheel discs and QA1 Coilover shocks.

The interior is strictly Shell Valley’s black vinyl seats and carpet. I covered the dash myself and fitted it with Autometer

“Cobra” gauges to get a look that was affordable and also fairly consistent with the period gauges. The steering column is from Ididit, also available through Shell Valley, and fitted to it a 15-inch wood rimmed wheel.

The paint and body was prepared by Paul McCann at Barely Street Legal Street Rods, here in Oklahoma City. The paint is a color-matched custom mix from DuPont to match PPG’s Guardsman Blue with bright white roundels, black pinstriping and a satin-black “nose stripe.” The nose stripe was inspired by the FIA original team race cars, and was selected to give the car a racing theme that was not as common as the traditional racing stripes.

The car is very rigid and handles great. When Brand Racing built the engine, it made 460 horses on the engine dyno, and since the car theoretically weighs only around 2300 pounds, it’s very quick. I had a 5.0 Mustang (actually several of them) that ran 12s in the quarter with 375 to 400 horse and 3400 pounds, so by powers of deduction the car is very fast and that motor still pulls at seven grand. The rear tires measure 335/35R17, with 285/40R17 on the front, and I’m currently running Kumho Ecsta, which seemed to strike a nice balance between performance and cost on the street car.

As for future plans, someday I might change to fuel injection, but I’m not sure about that. I’m also considering a front sway bar, “NASCAR style” but it seems to handle quite well without it. Larger brakes are on the list as well. Shell Valley offers a larger front rotor that I’m anxious to try as well, although its seems to stop pretty good now anyway.

I have several other projects in the works, including an original authentic Sunbeam Tiger, a 1971 Bill Stroppe Baja early Bronco, another street/trail 1969 early Bronco and my ‘67 Chevy Nova that I’ve had since high school. As for the Cobra, I’m just thrilled to enjoy it and drive it whenever I can. It’s like a mini-vacation every time I get behind the wheel and stomp the throttle.

Also, a bit about me. I am 37 years old, married with two kids in Yukon, Oklahoma. I work for a large architecture firm in Oklahoma City. My father and I were Cobra fans and I have my father to thank for my appreciation for the car. Most important, I have my wife Britney to thank for supporting a childhood dream coming true.

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Cobra Shell Valley