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						Shell Valley Blue Print Cobra 1

Shell Valley builds a blacked out Cobra

Text and photos by Steve Temple

Nobody ever said a Cobra is subtle. It’s loud and proud, announcing its presence long before even arriving. So why bother with a whole lot of bling? Indeed, why not go to the other extreme and eschew all the shiny metal?

That’s exactly what Travis Roth and his crew at Shell Valley did with their shop Cobra—and more. As Roth notes, “Everything on this car was ‘blacked out’ —the windshield, roll bar, bumper, mirrors, louvers—everything!”

We frankly give him and his staff credit for breaking from tradition, considering just how many replicas with chrome and other “car jewelry” we’ve seen over the years. Not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of flash, but variety is the spice of life.

Which is right in keeping with the company’s history, since Shell Valley has done all sorts of various designs over the years. Besides the understated-yet-menacing Gen II Cobra shown here, the lineup of cars produced over the last four decades or so includes the following other replicas: Daytona Coupe, ‘29 “A” Roadster, Cheetah, and Jag C-Type, along with a line of fiberglass replacement Jeep bodies. This firm also produces custom fiberglass products for the agricultural, marine, sports, auto racing and industrial sectors. (And that doesn’t include all the original-spec components produced for other kit and restoration companies.) 

How did the firm develop such a diverse range of offerings? Shell Valley was originally founded in 1970 by Jim Swoboda, producing fiberglass pickup covers, boats, canoes, and Jeep bodies. He then partnered with his brother, Robert, in 1972. His brother Steve joined the business in 1982 and Shell Valley began producing the 427 SC Cobra Replica.

In 1997, Rich Anderson purchased Shell Valley and acquired Midstates Classic Cars and Parts from Bob Kallio in 1999. Anderson combined both technologies and the best features of the Shell Valley and Midstates Cobra Replicas to develop the Generation II Cobra Replica, introduced in 2007. In 2009, Travis and Deanna Roth purchased the company and assets, and has continued to refine this mainstay of the line.

Today, the body benefits from extensive engineering in the mold design, allowing it to be laid up in one piece. This setup includes the shoulders for the hood, trunk lid, and doors.

Inner liners are laminated into the outer door panels, creating a conventional full-cavity door. Both hinge and latch locations are molded in as well for a clean fit and finish. The same is true for the hood and trunk fit. The use of a Kevlar/ fiberglass hybrid lamination makes for an even stronger body than a conventional layup.

Beneath the tough skin is a 2 x 4-inch box-tube, ladder- style frame. A standard feature on the Shell Valley frame is the use of dropped foot boxes on both the driver and passenger side for more cockpit comfort, which fits customers as tall as 6’ 2”. This frame is fitted with tubular Mustang II fronts and a Ford 9- inch rearend. The latter features a custom Shell Valley housing with Moser axles (3.50 gear with Detroit Truetrac Locker) and a fully adjustable aluminum 4-link suspension setup. QA-1 coil-overs are at all four corners (350-pound springs in the front and 225-pounds in the rear). The steering system consists of a Ididit steering column, 9-bolt black leather wrapped steering wheel, and a Mustang II quick-ratio rack and pinion (3 1⁄4 turns lock to lock). 

The mill under the hood is from BluePrint Engines, a 351 Ford bored .040 over and stroked to 408 cubes. It started out as a standard crate engine (though BluePrint’s version of “standard” goes further than some bare-bones crate engines, since it comes complete with fuel system, ignition system, plugs, wires, and the water and fuel pumps). Added to this base package is a balancer and Petronix Flame Thrower distributor, plus some dress-up items such as polished aluminum heads and intake (the only shiny metal on the whole car).

The hydraulic roller camshaft and Holley 750 carb combine to deliver an output that’s somewhat elevated over BluePrint’s stock numbers: 435 horses and 505 lb/ft of torque. These figures funnel through a Tremec TKO 600 fitted with a Quick Time bellhousing and Ram Clutch.

For better of venting exhaust gases, the block is fitted with Shell Valley’s custom, ceramic-coated headers. The company’s custom sidepipes have a new type of heat treatment as well:

“We are experimenting with a hi-temp black powder coat that has held up well over the past year,” Roth notes. “We are also experimenting with a new sidepipe on the driver’s side with a ‘louvered’ case around the muffler on the inside of the car so you don’t see it.” While no hard data on the performance is available at this point, but he does say it keeps muffler casing much cooler! (Thus reducing the risk of a “snake bite” from a hot pipe.)

Continuing with the ebony color scheme, recessed into the dash are VDO ‘Vision Black’ series gauges. And the seats, carpet, and door panels are all done in black. Silver stitching in the upholstery echoes the silver pinstripes on either side of the black racing stripe, laid over a custom mix for the main body color.

Black trim rings surround the Tri-bar H-4 Halogen headlights, bringing up the rear are Shell Valley’s new LED rectangular taillights. The American Racing Torq-Thrust II rims (17x7 front; 17x11rear) are coated in satin black (of course). Tires are Nitto NT555 (245/45R17 front; 315/35R17 rear). So all told, this stealthy bomber shows that black is the new black! 

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Cobra Shell Valley