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						Lone Star Classics Cobra Kit 1

Lone Star Classics Cobra

Photos and text by Harold Pace

Like so many of our readers, Texan David Cheever had wanted a Cobra since he was a kid in the 1970s. Today, he’s finally built one. (Which came as a bit of a surprise to his wife of 23 years, who didn’t know he was even interested in cars.)

Turns out Cheever had grown up in a car family, riding around in his dad Lee’s Corvettes, Jaguar XKE and a Sunbeam Tiger. Later David bought a ’73 Pontiac Firebird and got involved in amateur speed events. Lee often told David about the quickest of all muscle cars, the vicious Cobra 427, but there were none to be found on the street at the time. David saw his first real Cobra in the 1980s. It was featured at an Autorama car show, and he recalls thinking that one day he would have one of his own.

But life has a way of getting in the way of even the best car plans, and taking care of his wife and two kids while making a living as a pharmaceutical sales manager trumped car projects until the perfect opportunity came his way. Three years ago he found himself in an enviable position. He had received a large severance check from a previous employer, had another job lined up and some time on his hands. It was time for his Cobra project to strike.

Cheever had always been supplied with company cars by his employers, so his wife Kelli had never seen him involved in automotive projects. However, when he revealed his Cobra kit plans she was both pleased and supportive of the idea. He also had a friend, Tom Tennant, who caught the Cobra bug at about the same time. They both opted for LSC427 kits from Lone Star Classics and helped each other out.

“Tom bought his kit a year before I did, and he helped me avoid some of the pitfalls he discovered along the way,” Cheever notes. That included overcoming some size issues right from the get-go.

“I chose a Lone Star kit because it was longer and I could fit in it better,” says 6’ 1” Cheever. The LSC427 has a 95-inch wheelbase, five inches longer than a standard wheelbase Cobra. The rectangular steel ladder frame features a Ford live axle in back, and can be ordered set up for Ford or Chevrolet engines.

“I loved the look of their body,” he adds, “The fenders are more flared and it seems to have a more aggressive stance. Also, Lone Star was local so I could ask questions and go by their shop for help.” He credits LSC’s Brian Alexander with helping keep the project on target, and for selling him only the parts he needed to build the car his way. That proved to be a boon, since Cheever intended to build the car himself and had to go on a tool-buying binge. 

“That was a blast,” he laughs, “What guy doesn’t like tools?” He installed an electric winch in the ceiling so he could remove the body and turn it like a rotisserie. “I would love to have had a lift,” he recalls. “Even a quick lift would have been helpful. It would save a lot of time.” Cheever also loaded up on engine building tools, including a dial micrometer, ring compressor and feeler gauges.

“Dad taught me to buy good tools once, not bad tools over and over again,” he says. In particular he recommends buying a high-quality hydraulic jack.

Cheever started by getting a donor 1989 Mustang 5.0, but in the end he says he didn’t use hardly anything off it except the engine block, Hurst shifter and rearend housing. Cheever and his dad fitted the 8.8 rearend with Currie 31-spline axles, new 3:73 gears and an Auburn limited-slip unit. Cheever also built his own engine, using the Mustang block but not much else.

“I had never built an engine before,” he says, “but with the information available on the internet and YouTube, I got the nerve to take it on.” Summit Racing provided a 347 Stroker Kit, and the block was decked, clearanced and bored .030 over by Arlington Machine Shop. Eagle rods swing Icon forged 10:1 slugs that run just fine on 93 octane fuel. A Lunati roller cam bumps the valves in the RHS 185cc aluminum heads, fitted with Comp Cams roller rockers. Edelbrock supplied the valve covers, plus a dual-quad, air-gap intake manifold. Cheever had not forgotten the look of twin carbs on original 427 Cobras, and opted for dual Edelbrock Performers with the Endurashine finish. 

“Dad suggested going with EFI but I went old school instead,” he says. An MSD 6AL box provides the spark and Painless Performance Products the wiring harness. Cheever estimates power at around 400 ponies.

The stroker motor is backed up by a TKO 600 5-speed box and a McLeod clutch assembly. A Ford Racing flywheel and pressure plate are paired with the Hurst shifter pirated from the donor Mustang. A Speed Dawg color-coordinated shift ball completed the setup.

The Lone Star rectangular steel tube frame was not modified, but the suspension and brakes were upgraded with QA-1 adjustable shocks and drilled-and-slotted Wilwood rotors. Shelby Classic Chrome 17-inch wheels (8 inches front/11 inches rear) are shod with Kumho Ecsta XS rubber (245/40R front and 315/35R back).

Cheever is a fan of famed automotive artist Bill Neale, who designed the Terlingua Racing Team emblem and black-and-yellow paint scheme used on Shelby Trans Am team cars. A family vacation to the Big Bend area of Texas provided an excuse to visit the legendary ghost town of Terlingua, sealing the deal on the tribute paint scheme. Custom painter David Brady (no stranger to Kit Car Builder readers for his numerous Cobra paint jobs) slicked up the body and applied Ford Tuxedo Black (without the usual metallic), topped with yellow stripes and six coats of clear.

Cheever ordered his kit without an interior so he could add one of his own design. Headliner Customs recovered Mini Cooper seats in black leather embroidered in bright yellow Terlingua emblems with the infamous Texas jackrabbit. Dynamat sound deadening was installed under black leather door trim. The Finish Line wood-rim wheel looks period correct, as do the trim and emblems. The wheel is mounted on an IDIDIT chrome column. Starting with an uncut bare aluminum dashboard, Cheever came up with his own grouping of Speedhut gauges. He opted to not install the windshield wipers, but he does have a bolt-on blade for inspection time.

It may be a fair-weather car, but it gets used. A lot. Cheever drove it 500 miles after assembly, but before it was painted, to get the bugs out. Since completion he has racked up over 1200 miles, and is looking forward to taking his new steed drag racing and, maybe, to the Big Bend Open Road Race. “It’s on my bucket list,” he admits.

There’s no way to miss the “LOUD” license plate! “They were acquired through the Myplates web site,” Cheever explains. Myplates is licensed by the state of Texas to sell specially designed, legal license plates. However cool, Cheever admits there is a downside to the custom plate. “I figure I will never be able to talk my way out of a ticket for too much noise since I have the LOUD plates.” All of which means that this Texas Cobra is not only bigger, but badder too!

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