What is it about the look of a small, British, '60s-era sports car that drives grown men to wild flights of fancy? When racing legend Carroll Shelby chose to use the AC Ace sports car way back in 1960, did he know something was special about the car? He has said he "dreamed the name 'Cobra,'" and perhaps he also knew the design would be part of the American car dream more than 40 years later. Whatever phantasm is embodied in the auto Snake, the Cobra has sparked a passion with its unique and fascinating design, making it among the most appealing kit car for auto enthusiasts chasing a dream.
That castle in the sky struck Carl Carey of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, a few years ago and led to his project car, this beautifully finished '65 Cobra 427 built from a B&B Cobra replica kit. Carey had trucked his Cobra replica to Biloxi, Mississippi, on the "Big Muddy" Gulf Coast early in October, for the annual Cruisin' the Coast event. Cruisin' the Coast attracts some 6,000 custom cars and trucks from around the country. This 26-mile-long block party, kind of like a Mardi Gras for cars, was the ideal venue for Carey to show off his car and draw a crowd. The attention was the result of the wheels, which are not typical of a Cobra kit, and the engine which is definitely not the norm.
While the car's badge said "427" on the side, that's not what was under the hood. Nestled in the cleanly assembled engine bay, Carey had stuffed a massive Ford 460 big-block taken from a '75 Thunderbird. However, Carl said he uses a pre-pollution control '72 timing set for some more horsepower. Flat-top pistons replaced the standard set. A Performa intake manifold and Holley double-pumper suck in the fuel. Both the mufflers and headers are from B&B.
Carey said the engine really is in a mild tune, and he estimates it is putting out around 400 hp.
The wheels are 17-inch Torq-Thrust IIs from American Racing. The wheels look like they were matched to the Cobra as if the dream gods had chosen them for the perfect fantasy match.
Carey had been a car enthusiast since high school. After working for 25 years with Texas Instruments, he found himself with some time on his hands. The Cobra was something he just wanted to build. "I wanted to build a street rod but decided to build this," Carey said after seeing a B&B Cobra in an ad in KIT CAR magazine and daydreaming about owning and building it.
He liked the result so much, he turned his hobby into a new career, restoring '60s-era performance cars. "The Cobra had a lot to do with that," said Carey, who now owns Carey Classics, a frame-off auto restoration company.
One of the most unusual features in this Cobra is the shifter. It doesn't snake around forward like most Cobras. There is a reason for this. In the original design, Carroll Shelby used a Mustang's shift linkage, which had to be reversed to match the top-loader transmission connection points. In Carey's car, he used the linkage from a Ford Fairlane. The Fairlane's shifter matches perfectly and puts the shifter in hand without a stretch, as in most every other Cobra and Cobra kit car that has been made. "I think Shelby made a mistake there," Carey mused.
Carey's Cobra is painted Signal Yellow, a Toyota color. The lights are from Lucas. The frontend is from a Mustang II as is the steering box. The rearend is a narrowed 8.8-inch Ford.
Carey was especially thorough with the interior, as you can see from the photos, which adds to the authentic look of the car.
All in all, it was a dream come true for Carey, who built this beauty to drive into others' daydreams--not a bad dream and an awesome ride at the same time. As Carey plans on snaking on down to this year's Cruisin' the Coast, you can see it up close and personal, in reality, not your dreams. For more information on Cruisin' the Coast visit their Web site www.cruisinthecoast.com.
Few cars elicit more emotion...
Few cars elicit more emotion than a Cobra; here, the purity of line and attention to detail highlight the best of the design in this build of a B&B kit.
Carey's Snake sits on a narrowed...
Carey's Snake sits on a narrowed 8.8-inch Ford rearend.
The badge may say "427," but...
The badge may say "427," but nestled easily under the hood is a massive 400hp Ford 460 renovated from a '75 Thunderbird. Note the clean installation and attention to detail.
Notice the shifter. This isn't...
Notice the shifter. This isn't your usual Cobra setup with a backward-facing Mustang linkage. Here, a shift linkage from a Ford Fairlane was used.
Carl Carey built this Toyota...
Carl Carey built this Toyota Signal Yellow B&B Cobra 427 after seeing an ad in KIT CAR. The ad fueled a dream that he made come true.