Text and Photos by Joe Greeves

 

One of the biggest challenges for Cobra replica manufacturers is to create something new without departing from the original design. Backdraft Racing, headquartered in Boynton Beach, Florida has produced more than 1,400 of these iconic roadsters since 2001, regularly introducing new versions that retain the flavor of the Sixties cars while adding innovative refinements to the design.

The company’s latest, the MK3 Fastback top and aero package, takes the Sixties profile into the new millennium. Not only that, the engine and suspension improves on the original in every significant way.

Quite apart from style or weather protection, early FIA-style fiberglass tops on Cobras originally appeared as a way to enhance aerodynamics to what essentially was a blunt object, bulldozing its way through the air. (Shelby once quipped that the Cobra roadster was about as slippery as a shoebox.) To make early Cobras more competitive on high-speed circuits, a fiberglass top was designed and the results were dramatic. Significant increases in speed were achieved using the same horsepower and the cars traveled further on the same amount of fuel. 

"

The Cobra roadster was about as slippery as a shoebox.

– Carroll Shelby

Building on that concept, Backdraft Racing has taken the original approach and given it a new spin. Since many Backdraft customers enjoy endurance racing, a smooth-flowing top was the first step in lowering the car’s coefficient of drag. The MK3 Fastback Top shown here is the first one out of the mold, made from carbon fiber and light enough so that two people can add or remove it easily. There are six attachment points with two on the windshield, two at the door, and two in the rear.

Through some careful design choices, the twin-bubble roof design is not only compatible with the roll bar(s) without disrupting its aerodynamic profile, but also allows unencumbered access to the trunk.

When we photographed the car, the top was without side windows (still in the design phase), and there are also plans for small side windows that will increase visibility. Even if endurance competition is not your goal, the new top will increase the opportunities to use your Cobra, whether it’s keeping out the rain or extending drive times in hot or cold weather.

Following the same plan of achieving higher speeds with the same horsepower through applied aerodynamics, the car uses an abbreviated chin spoiler that is stylish on the street and functional on the track. Vented flares stretched over fat tires help with both airflow and brake cooling. And their aggressive look is a bonus!

Early Cobras went through a succession of engines with each adding to the power and legend of the cars. While production of the original Cobras may have stopped in ’67, engines produced in the new millennium are significantly lighter, faster, more fuel efficient, and more reliable than ever before. Backdraft chose a Roush-modified, all-aluminum Coyote crate motor boasting four valves per cylinder, variable cam timing, fuel injection, and a supercharger that not only produces 630 hp, but also comes with a two-year/24,000 mile, limited warranty. The Tremec T56 six-speed trans is an ideal match.

Additional custom options retain the original flavor while embracing new technology. LED headlights turn night into day with minimum electrical draw. Also, the elegant Backdraft interior incorporates black leather bucket seats with an optional carbon dash and seven-gauge package of Auto Meter GT Carbon instruments. A Sparco steering wheel on a billet column creates an optimum tactile connection. 

Altogether, it’s clear that Backdraft knows how to build a Cobra that brings it forward.