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						Cobra Museum C24
Snakes on a Plain

The Cobra Experience Museum

Photos and Story by Steve Temple

Museum displays run from A to Z, everything from aerospace to zoology. Our favorite type of collection, though, starts with the letter “C,” as in cars — especially Cobras. Which makes the Cobra Experience high on our list of tours. 

Regular readers of ReinCarNation need no introduction to snake-charmer Carroll Shelby’s automotive creations. These cars remain giants for their contributions to the evolution of the muscle-car industry in this country.

It is the promotion, conservation, education and preservation of the cars produced by Shelby American that is the linchpin of the Cobra Experience. In the early ’70s, Drew Serb, founder and curator, was captivated by the Cobra and started his journey of restoration and dedication to this special car. Through the years, he gained experience in Cobra repairs and amassed an enviable spare parts, artifacts and memorabilia inventory. He wanted to share these increasingly rare cars with the public and was able to transform his passion for the cars into the Cobra Experience. He is fortunate to run this museum with his family — wife, Janet, and daughters, Emily and Kate — further educating the masses, especially the next generation.

The Cobra Experience is a 25,000-square-foot museum located in Martinez, California, and showcases original Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, Daytona Coupes, GT40s, King Cobras, Sunbeam Tigers and a Lotus. Currently there are about two dozen cars on display, but that fluctuates somewhat depending on what else is available. There are also engine and wheel displays, posters, photos and a shop scene as it was at Shelby American in the 1960s. Unique to the museum is a 40-seat surround-sound theater that features an HD film about the cars and about the Ford and Shelby American story.

The facility is available to rent for events and can accommodate up to 300 people. The theater seats up to 40, there is a boardroom/library for small groups, and a lounge that seats up to 80 adjoins the large covered patio area.

In addition to the inside displays, the museum also hosts a Cobra Day in early June with a combination of both original and reproduction Cobras, plus vintage Shelby Mustangs and Fords. We came across a number of cool cars at this event that we plan to feature in upcoming issues, so stay tuned for more details.

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