Have you heard this one? A man comes up to a Cobra at a car show and asks the owner who's standing by, "Is that a Mazda Miata?"
The owner says, "No, just look at the engine and that will tell you it's not a Miata."
The man says, "I bet those sidepipes are so loud you can't hear anything."
The Cobra owner responds, "That's never been a problem. The car's so fast, all the noise is way behind me."
For Rick Findley of Easley, South Carolina, this conversation actually took place.
KIT CAR first met Rick at the Unique Motorcars Homecoming celebration. He caught us admiring his Unique 427SC roadster, with its British Racing Green paint and tan leather interior. After a few minutes of conversing with Rick, we decided to photograph the Cobra for a feature.
Rick's road to Cobra ownership had a good many twists and turns. His dad owned a Ford dealership in Pickens, South Carolina, while Rick was growing up. In 1965, after reading about the AC Cobras and Shelby American in all the car magazines, he pleaded with his dad to get him one. Frederick Findley Sr., who goes by Fred, wanted his son to graduate college. He made a deal with Frederick Jr., who goes by the second part of the name, to give him a Cobra as a college graduation present. Of course, being the owner of a Ford dealership, Fred knew that Ford wouldn't be producing Cobras in 1971, but he didn't let his son in on this little secret. He wanted Rick to get a good education and not be messing around with exotic sports cars.
Upon Rick's graduation in 1971, used Cobras were already too expensive. So he purchased a new Corvette that he still owns and set his mind on starting a career. Mind you, a '71 Sting Ray is pretty cool. But once you've got the Cobra venom in your blood, the only cure is Cobra ownership. Many years later, Rick researched the various Cobra kits and selected a Unique Motorcars Deluxe Pallet 427SC kit.
A buddy of his had a Cobra replica painted at a shop in Pickens. Maurice and Alan Weaver, owners of Unique Motorcars, in Gadsden, Alabama, referred Rick to another painter, Jodeco Auto Body, in McDonough, Georgia. So Rick decided to visit both shops. At the Pickens location, he watched the painter applying a flame job on toilet seats.
When he went to Bruce Bunn's Jodeco Auto Body in Georgia, two Cobras, a Ferrari, and a Maserati were in various stages of bodywork and paint. The Jodeco quote for a fully finished, professional paintjob was $500 less than the South Carolina shop. What sealed the deal, though, was the fact that Bruce offered to pick the body up at Unique and deliver it back painted and ready for installation on the chassis.
While the 427SC body was being painted, Rick had engine builder Ted Martin of Martin Automotive, in Easley, build a 408ci Ford stroker mill from a 351 Windsor. Ted also rebuilt a Ford C6 automatic transmission for installation in the Findley roadster. Leanne, Rick's lovely wife, requested that the Cobra be an automatic, so she could also drive it. When the drivetrain was finished, Alan offered to install the engine and trans so that Unique could craft the tubular exhaust headers. Rick didn't have to pay for the powertrain's installation-he just had to buy the car's motor mounts.
With the roadster at its new Findley home for the first time, Rick installed the included Unique Motorcars wiring harness. He and Leanne have since put many happy miles on the comfortable cruising Cobra. Rick is constantly customizing his 427SC, which Leanne always agrees to. Since the car is equipped with an automatic, she enjoys driving it as much as her husband. Building the Cobra with a C6 was a smart move, Rick!
Martin Automotive built the...
Martin Automotive built the 408ci stroker mill from a Ford 351 Windsor engine backed by a Martin Automotive rebuilt Ford C6 auto trans. The engine produces approximately 450 to 475 hp.
Rick is constantly customizing...
Rick is constantly customizing his Cobra. He had Auto Interiors' Anthony Steel craft a burlwood dash face, which the owner installed (photo by Rick Findley).
Anthony Steel, owner of Auto...
Anthony Steel, owner of Auto Interiors, in Pickens, SC, added more lumbar support to the original Cobra-style seatbacks and installed a longer, more comfortable bottom cushion suspended on modern seat webbing before retrimming them in tan leather.
For still more comfort in...
For still more comfort in the cockpit, the owner installed a heater, made a center console to fit the heater vents, and installed a custom stereo system, replete with speakers in the kick panels. To facilitate easier steering, Rick installed needle bearings in the steering shaft.
The owner replaced the supplied...
The owner replaced the supplied 15-inch wheels with PS Engineering 17-inch rolling stock. They're 8 inches wide in the front and are 10 inches wide for the rear, as shown.
At the auto impressionable...
At the auto impressionable age of 16, Rick saw his first original Cobra in his hometown of Easley, SC. It was painted British Racing Green. Bruce Bunn painted the Findley roadster Drewent Green, which is an Aston Martin hue.