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									Unique Motorcars 427 Mc Henry Cobra 1

Unique Motorsports 427 Cobra

As Told by Tim McHenry

Photos by Steve Temple

I’ve been toying with the idea of building a Cobra replica since I was about 18 years old. I am now 53. After finally having one of these beasts, it was a good thing I could not afford one at 18 or I probably wouldn't be around today.

I have always liked wrenching on my own cars and/or bikes since forever, usually money always being the limiting factor. My ‘69 Fastback Mustang was originally a 302 auto, which I changed over to a four speed and built the 302 to an 11:1 3/4 cam motor. I left the stock 2.70 open rearend in, again no money to put a good rearend in, and promptly destroyed it. Great fun for a kid that likes going to junk yards for parts.

The ‘69 Mustang Grande is my current car, along with the Cobra and that Mustang was just a total suspension and interior refurbish, a good driver and bad-weather car. As long as I can remember I was always taking apart something, from my grandfather’s lawn mower to my uncle’s 3.8 Jag engine. Needless to say, neither one was happy about my foray into mechanics. I did however manage to put everything back together.

As for the Cobra, the car came to me as a painted roller. I did not have to do a heck of a lot. The wiring harness was in, so all I had to do was make the connections for lighting, dash, and ignition. The interior had to be put in with heat insulation, carpet, seats, e-brake, and five-point seat belts. 

I originally wanted to build more of the car myself, but the painting of the car was not an option for me. Since I could not do this portion, Maurice Weaver, the owner of Unique, advised me that trying to stuff a big-block Ford along with a Tremec TKO 600 down through the small hood opening of a painted car was asking for trouble. 

I only have one-garage space for this car, so I had to have Unique install the driveline and body. Kind of disappointing because I wanted to do as much as I could but things kind of snowballed because of the lack of garage space. On the other hand, the time it took for me to do what was left was only about five or six months worth of weekends, four to five hours each day.

If I had to guess the car was probably 80 percent complete. If I were going to say to people considering a project like this one, it would be to make sure you have the room for both the body and chassis, with some room left over to work comfortably. And to try to think of doing things that might not sound too important but are connected to other tasks, so you can avoid making an easy task more difficult.

For the engine, I went with a 390 Ford FE, bored and stroked to 447 cubes. It’s fitted with Eagle H-beam rods and an Eagle cast crank. All told, it delivers more than 500 horses and 550 lb/ft of torque. (The 390 doesn’t cost as much as a 427 but can be built to deliver the same power.) I used a .040 over bore with a 4.250 stroke, plus a Comp cam (.528 int. .533 exh.  dur. @.050 .242 int. .251 exh.). The intake is a Blue Thunder medium rise, topped by a Holley 750, assembled by Southern Automotive engines.

In comparison to my other cars, getting into a big-block Cobra is a huge step up in power, and in a much lighter car to boot. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know how to handle it, so the time was right to make this project finally happen. 


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