Sunday, June 22, 2008

London Pit 'O Cobras

They don't call it anything near as cool as the "Pit 'O Cobras" of course, but that's what I would call it. The real name is the London Cobra Show, which I find to be somewhat lacking in describing an event that shuts down a few central blocks of London, OH to provide a venue for a gathering of hundreds of Shelby Cobras (99.999% of which are replicas, but still... each and every one of the possesses the winning trifecta of shiny, loud, and fast!) every June.

Flying being off of the agenda for various and sundry reasons, the criticality of the Weather-out-the-Window(tm) forecast was reduced such that I could safely delegate the task to a lesser denizen of the house:

He reported back that it was weather sufficient to the task of a top-down Miata ride across the 20 intervening miles from home to the burg of London. An early start, as usual, being desired in avoidance of heat, weather, and crowds had us (me and my photographic gadgetry) on the road by 0900. A swell drive it was, with nary a slow granny or even slower farmer to be seen on the country paths that are my preferred means of navigation when traversing the Central Ohio farm land. The problem with a drive like that is, as you may be able to imagine, the temptation to just keep a-going upon arrival at the presumptive destination, but said temptation was easily averted upon the hearing of the deep, bass tones of a high powered V8.

As mentioned, the very, very large majority of the Cobras at the show are replicas, and a very large majority of those are built from a kit, and a good sized majority of those come from a kit manufacturer called Factory Five. Factory Five could be considered as the "Van's Aircraft" of Cobra replicas: they have sold thousands of kits, peer-level support is incredibly easy to find, and the kits have gone through multiple iterative enhancements to refine the building process down to something resembling a science. I think that they are on at least their third re-design of the basic Cobra kit, with each preceding re-design having been focussed on improvements in kit quality, ease of construction, and not least importantly, safety of the end product. There are no air bags in these cars, so they are built tough and crash worthy.

Here's a naked one; you can see the steel cage that protects the driver:

Here's some of the suspension gadgetry - it is no coincidence that it looks like the suspension of a race car:

The Cobra kit can be built by using a Ford Mustang as a donor car for the rolling bits and engine, or you can buy a kit that provides all of the parts needed (except the engine and transmission) brand new.

Here's what they look like with their clothes on:

I've been looking at these things for years with the idea of building one, and I think it would be a great deal of fun to do so, but there's a problem. At the end of the day, I'd end up with an expensive toy, and I already have one of those. A car like this would not lend itself to my daily drive to work (the cost of the gas to feed even a small V8 alone would be prohibitively and painfully expensive) and would be difficult to store. Beyond that, I don't have the tools for facility to support the build. And, as it turns out, you're always having to work on the darn thing:

I could build a variant that could be used for spec car racing, but as cool as that would be, racing is expensive, time-consuming, and puts an uninsurable $25,000 car at risk every time it goes out on the track. Not for me, thanks!

So, best to just look at these every now and then:

From the comments:

Your reasons for not getting one are well-considered, logical, and show great perspicacity and restraint.

So what color is yours going to be?

A very astute question! You guys know me too well! And as fate would have it, it's a question that I have given long consideration to. I was thinking something like this:

The purists would hate it, of course, but a subtle reminder that they themselves are driving replicas should suffice to squelch the criticism.

1 comment:

  1. Great pics, Dave. I was only marginally aware of the Cobra's existence and had no idea that it had such a huge kit-builder's following.

    Your reasons for not getting one are well-considered, logical, and show great perspicacity and restraint.

    So what color is yours going to be?