Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Fall 2019
						Ucc Ac Cobra Replica 4

King-Size Cobra

As Told by Robert McDonald  

To all fellow Cobra enthusiasts: let me share with you my story of how I came to own and build one of the most wanted and fierce, powerto- weight-ratio hot rods of all time. But also one that is far more accessible and comfortable than the original. 

My name is Robert McDonald. I am the Executive Vice President for an automotive supplier in the Detroit area. I have worked in the automotive industry for my entire career. 

As many of you know, growing up in Michigan in the Sixties, Seventies and even the Eighties, you were exposed to the Motor City and all of the excitement that came with the automotive industry being in the center of Detroit. 

As a young man growing up in Holt, Michigan (60 miles west of Detroit), I always knew that I wanted to relocate to the suburbs of Detroit and work in this fast-paced industry. My grandfather worked in the automotive industry and growing up I saw him build a very successful career and drive some of the most fascinating cars that Detroit designed and produced. 

So after college, I pursued a career with a Tier 1 supplier and my fascination for automobiles continued to grow. I remember as a young boy seeing an AC Cobra and I asked my father what this incredible looking car was. He replied, “That, my son, is an AC Cobra.” 

As the car drove by us, I could remember almost feeling the ground shake as the thunder of 500+ hp roared by. No top, the wind blowing through the driver’s hair and the smile that never seemed to leave his face. And of course, he had a beautiful companion next to his side, which only added to the mystique of this vehicle. That was it— someday I would own a car like this. 

Many decades later and after a fairly successful career in the auto industry, with a supporting and loving wife, and several years after celebrating my 50th birthday, the time had come to start my search. 

Before getting into the details of the search and selection, you need to know that I am 6’ 5” tall. For those of you that own or have sat in an AC Cobra, know that the two don’t go together well. I had not tried to sit in an AC Cobra as of then, but I just knew I had to have one. 

I started buying several books on building component cars, magazines featuring different builders, and researched online the many different manufacturers that were out there. I started visiting some of the many highperformance shops that exist in the Detroit area that service some of these cars, including some classic car dealers that carry AC Cobras in their inventory. So the first time I came across one that I could sit in, it was an original, and as I attempted to slide into the driver’s seat, I quickly discovered that this was not a car for a taller person. Immediate disappointment came over me, thinking, “How was I ever going to own the car of my dreams and be able to experience the thrill comfortably?” 

After talking to several builders such as Factory Five and Superformance, some had offered an extended foot box which I thought might help solve the problem with legroom. So I visited a Superformance dealer in the area and sat in one. I was impressed with the quality of the car and the attention to detail. an excellent car, but the extended foot box was still a little more cramped than what I had hoped to have. 

So I had to reevaluate if the investment versus ride comfort would be the right choice. After contemplating this subject for several months, I went online looking at inventory at a local classic dealer that was advertising a “Big Man Cobra.” The description indicated that this builder actually stretched the frame and doors to accommodate taller than normal drivers. 

I immediately made an appointment to go see how much of what they were saying is true. I got to the dealership and quickly made my way to the floor and they guided me to a royal blue with white stripe version. I immediately noticed that the cockpit looked larger and the doors were longer. This “Big Man Cobra” was actually sitting next to a Factory Five replica, and I could easily see that the car was longer and the cockpit was much more roomier. 

As I slid into the seat, I felt this warm feeling overcome me and a smile rolled across my face— this was perfect and the legroom was excellent. So I had asked to look through the car’s paperwork and find out who the builder was and explore more of the details such as age, engine, components and other specs of the car.

I have to say that the team at UCC has been outstanding to work with and have been very helpful as I began to tweak my car. One of the things that I discovered in my research is that the reinforced frame that UCC uses is one of the finest in the industry. 

As you can see from the pictures, I chose a smokegray base color with black stripes and red tracers. I also discovered that UCC had just transitioned to an upgraded new GT-427 model, and that my car would be the 11th off of the new body mold that the company had recently invested several hundred thousand dollars on. 

I went with the 351 Windsor 408 stroker engine that puts out almost 500 horsepower and over 490 lb/ft of torque. This came with a Mark 4 drivetrain package and a 9-inch Moser rearend. I also upgraded to the four-piston, 12.4-inch slotted Wilwood brakes, ceramic-coated headers and side pipes. 

At this point we kicked off the build and UCC estimated it would take about three months. We agreed that I would visit the company’s operations once the vehicle was mostly assembled and the body was ready to place on the running chassis. 

A little over two months later I flew to Dallas and after a short ride to Fort Worth, visited the UCC operations. I spent most of the day test-driving my car for the first time. The production supervisor was kind enough to take me through the details of the car and point out some of their most recent upgrades and offer some suggestions for additional upgrades with no pressure. 

At this point we added the front mesh and stainless cowl shield for the front. We also went with a carbon-fiber dashboard, which seemed to go well with the paint scheme. We also added the custom leather tunnel/console with cup holders, a 14-inch woodgrain steering wheel, and 3M wrap rear fender stone shields. The final touch was the embroidered Cobras in the seats which I absolutely fell in love with. I was lucky to find a gentleman online that makes custom shift handles out of the same type of wood grain as the steering wheel and inlaid the Cobra emblem in the top of the shifter. 

UCC was incredible to work with and I was extremely impressed with their facility. I have now taken delivery of my car and could not be happier. UCC continues to be very supportive with any questions I have as I begin to break in a new love in my life. 

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