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						Coupe Build A3
Motivational Exercise

Financial advisor busts stress with a Factory Five Coupe build

As told by Bob Hassett

Photos by Steve Temple

Several years ago my wife gave me an ultimatum because my stress levels were too high. She told me, “Find a new job or get a hobby.”

Since I loved my job as a financial advisor at a major firm, I took the hobby route. The first three hobbies I thought of were vetoed, but the fourth idea of building a Cobra was approved. And that one has made all the difference in my life.

Before sharing that experience, though, why a Daytona Coupe Cobra in particular? I’ve always loved the style and lines from the ’60s and the history of it winning the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1965 gave it extra appeal. To top it off, Factory Five Racing had just introduced a new Type 65 Coupe, so it was a no-brainer.

Prior to starting this project, I knew that my limited skills and experience were going to be an issue. So as a self-test, I refurbished an old 1985 Dodge Ram truck that was in the family. I had a blast, and so did my kids. Even so, it was evident I was going to need some help.

I next joined the St. Louis Kit Car Club, headed by Dan Doerer, who kindly introduced me to the process and provided some early direction. I also got involved with the local Gateway Cobra Club in St. Louis and contacted Mark Dougherty, aka “the traveling builder.”

Since my motto was “do it right and get it done,” this project could not drag on for years and years, but it had to be done correctly. Once the kit arrived and everything was inventoried, it was clear that I was going to need Mark to help me on the build. He came for a couple days, and we worked like crazy with help from my sons and wife. Mark then gave me a to-do list a mile long and left, which I worked on in whatever manner I could.

The concept was for a GT-type car that was going to be driven, not a trailer queen. So I sourced a 331 ci Ford Performance engine from Mike Forte, linked to a TREMEC T5 transmission, providing 300 usable horses at the wheels. I also included independent rear suspension, power steering, power brakes and a hydroboost clutch for more civilized driving on the street.

In order to ensure my wife rides along, there is air conditioning and a heater, as well as an AM/FM radio. LED lighting illuminates the cockpit at night, and a backup camera covers the Coupe’s blind spots.

The great thing about Cobras is that there is a vast community, and everyone sticks together. I met many people and made a lot of friends along the path to completing my Coupe, and my normally quiet residential street had a new influx of noisy and beautiful cars that came to visit.

The build proceeded from the roller stage to the go-kart stage after 13 months and was fully licensed after 17 months. Mark would return every few months, and we would build like crazy for a few days. There was always a big to-do list for me when he left, and Cobra guys would come over often to lend a hand.

Truth be told, this project was sort of a ship in the bottle, because once the car was a roller, there was no way to get it from the shop at the back of the house to the street. So, we built “Cobra Lane,” which was a paver stone driveway along the side of the house. After that, we were ready to enjoy the go-kart stage.

The funny thing is that anytime a Cobra guy came over, he always had to drive down Cobra Lane — which really echoed against the next-door houses. Even so, most neighbors were very accommodating when my Coupe went go-karting down the street. They would even clap.

I drove the car in gel coat for a year to work out any bugs and settle on the color. That was a good choice, as one of the wise sages in the Cobra Club says, “Your most difficult decision is going to be picking a color.”

Wow, was he correct. I had things narrowed down to blue with white stripes, but it was tough to decide on a final shade. Since Jeff “Da Bat” Miller was doing the painting, I told him I was 90% sure I wanted the Dodge Viper blue shade PBE, with arctic white stripes, and I wanted him to make the paint pop.

Mark drove it to Jeff’s shop in California for the body prep and paint but had a mishap along the way. He was following a semitruck at night when it ran into a deer in the road. Mark didn’t have time to avoid the carcass and drove right over it, making the Coupe bounce into the air. Later, Jeff wanted to know where the fur came from on the bottom of the radiator shroud, but otherwise, no damage done.

After eight weeks, I called Jeff to confirm the PBE color. He casually responded, “Well, you’re a little late for that!” Turns out, he had already used the Viper blue paint, which turned out spectacular.

Mark and I took the Coupe to the 2017 Huntington Beach Factory Five Cruise-In, and then drove it back to St. Louis. It was a joy to drive, and we averaged 20 mpg on the trip. We did have one issue with a loose wheel bearing in western Arizona, but a mechanic gave us a hand (and a scissor jack) and got us on back our way.

My wife and I later drove the Coupe from St. Louis to Columbus, Ohio, for the London Cobra Show in 2017. Four blocks from the hotel, the car died on an exit ramp. After trying three or four different things to restart it, I made a couple calls, and lo and behold, four Cobra guys showed up with a trailer and towed me in. The culprit was a bad fuel pump hose, which we fixed in the hotel parking lot.

If someone needs some help somewhere, it’s just a phone call, text or email and we are on our way to assist. That’s just what this Cobra community is all about.

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