The phrase "Replication With Innovation" is pretty snappy, but it's the perfect way to describe Cutting Edge Replicas in Manteca, squarely in the middle of California. The family tree in the kit car market sometimes resembles a telephone pole-straight and without any deviation. What Cutting Edge Replicas is doing is living up to their innovative tag line and producing a product you recognize-a Cobra roadster hybrid-but with a very interesting chassis to support it.
It's also interesting to note that CER is a hybrid, too, growing out of the needs of three people-a pair of brothers and a self-admitted Cobra nut. Back in 1984, Kurt and Doug Franklin started DKW Precision Machining with their father, a company that fabricates billet steel and aluminum parts for the U.S. government and the aerospace industry.
The shop covers 14,000 square feet, and their experience with design and engineering of precision-made parts has given them an edge over the typical guy wanting to build Cobra parts. Each of them with over 20 years of know-how allows Kurt and Doug to analyze a product to the nth degree before production begins, following the product through to its completion, too.
The other person in this tri-level equation is Jim Riddell. After building Cobra kits for more than 10 years, he knew his way around them pretty well and felt he could design and build one that would be superior to any other that was on the market. And having raced midgets and sprint cars gave him the insight on what it would take to make a part that would hold up under stress as well as perform well, too. After designing some suspension parts, Jim looked around to find the right company with the right credentials to make parts as meticulous as he would. An engine builder who knows both Jim and the Franklin brothers introduced the trio and they hit it off. The Franklins got so into what Jim wanted that they all decided to join forces and, since January of 2004, they've been working together collectively as Cutting Edge Replicas.
What would be surprising, even with fate dealing its hand in throwing these three together, was the fact that both Kurt and Doug wanted to build a Cobra for themselves! The timing of Jim's entrance couldn't have happened at a better time for all of them! Jim turned his aluminum A-arm suspension designs over to the brothers so they could get an accurate and well-made piece by taking advantage of the CNC machines at their disposal. Each part gets planned out and designed on the computer, 3-D drawings are made, and every prototype is studied again and again before the final product is milled.
Working with precision-made aluminum pieces has allowed Cutting Edge to create some of the most unique Cobra parts to come along in some time. Drawing from the world of sprint car racing, the double aluminum A-arm setup has done well in both racing and hot rodding, so why not in replicars? Add to that an inboard coilover shock design and you can see how the innovation CER talks about isn't just a logo. The icing on the cake? With all of this precision machinery around, why not make other parts, such as door hinges and engine brackets, out of billet aluminum, too?
With all these well-made suspension parts, you'd have to believe the standard CER chassis is anything but "standard." Riddell really went to town in redesigning what had gone before, incorporating his own design for the actuated inboard shock system as well as some beefy upgrades to their chassis. Jim found that some chassis designs he'd seen were insufficient when it came to critical strength areas, such as the front crossmember section that supports the vehicle's suspension. Looking more like a high-end hot rod than some of the spindly designs seen on some Cobra chassis, the CER chassis appears almost overbuilt-but we know that's not the case with the way some Cobra drivers will treat this car when it's finished!