There's no question that Cobra replicas are cool cars—when they're built right. Here at RK Motors Charlotte, we probably get five or six inquiries a week from guys who have their own home-built Cobras that they'd like to consign. And sadly, we turn most of them away because, as much as we respect the effort that goes into a build, they just aren't that well done. There's a wide gap between even a nice home-built Cobra and a pro-built piece, so you know the ones we do choose to represent are the absolute cream of the crop.
This Backdraft Racing Cobra is one of those special ones that raise the bar for everyone else. If you haven't heard of Backdraft Racing, then you don't know Cobras—since 2002, these guys have been building some of the best performing, well-sorted Cobras in the business. As former racers, they know a thing or two about getting a car around a track quickly, and their hardware reflects that fact. Forget about Cobras pieced together from leftovers, Backdraft Cobras are turn-key cars that are fully developed and engineered to out perform almost anything else on the street.
This particular Backdraft Racing Cobra is a brand new build with new components used throughout. It shows just one mile, which is presumably just to make sure it works properly, but in all ways, this is a brand new car. Looking brilliant in Sterling Gray with a bright silver stripe, it's a sophisticated twist on the usual blue or red Cobra, but with all the original race-bred DNA intact. The beautifully finished body is one of the nicest we've seen, and I'd wager that the fiberglass industry has probably perfected their craft by now. There are no waves or ripples in the substrate, and the gelcoat is even so that none of the fiberglass matting shows through. Proper finish work has resulted in a laser-straight Cobra that probably looks every bit as good as a fully restored aluminum original.
Detailing is critical on a Cobra replica, and this is where a lot of cars disappoint. When one of these shows up, we look at things like the gills in the front fenders, the fit of the doors, and the overall impression we get from the car—does it look like a replica or is it accurate? This one hits all the right notes, although some liberties have been taken with the shape of the body in the interest of improved performance. But things like the riveted-on hood scoop, the front bumperettes, and the correct Lucas-style turn signals and tail lights look dead-on. The windshield is new, of course, and you simply can't miss those beautifully fabricated side pipes with the stainless heat shield protecting passengers' legs as they climb out. Someone sweated the details on this one.
Although the body screams, “427!” under the hood you'll find a built small block Ford. Based on the compact and lightweight 302, a TMD seasoned short block has been bored and stroked to 347 cubic inches and includes forged pistons, a forged crank, a roller cam and roller lifters. The engine wears cool Ford Racing valve covers that have a high tech satin blue finish, with a matching air cleaner on top of the Holley double pumper. An Edelbrock intake is the perfect companion for the Holley, and an MSD pro billet distributor and coil light the fires. Exhaust flows through ceramic coated headers into stainless steel side pipes for an intense roar that complements this cars serious looks. The owner has never dynoed this car, but believes, with all this fine tuning, that it's pushing around 420 horsepower. The engine compartment itself is beautifully finished, with a polished stainless firewall and gloss black inner fenders—heck, even the bottom of the hood has been sanded and smoothed to look as good as the rest of the body. You can see the quality in this build with the polished stainless hard lines for the coolant and that gorgeous polished overflow tank is something the originals never had, but should have.
Forget Toploader 4-speeds, this modern-day Cobra hits the road with a new world class Borg Warner T5 5-speed overdrive transmission that delivers power to a 3.46 10% limited slip BMW rear end for whiplash-inducing acceleration, yet still allows this roadster to loaf along at highway speeds. The suspension is the same MacPherson strut front and fully independent rear set up that you'll find under a BMW 3 Series. A lot of lesser Cobras use a rigid axle that the original Cobra never offered. The difference is a Cobra that will dance with you on the track instead of biting you when you push it too far. The limits of a car like this are insanely high, and thanks to the sophisticated suspension design, it's a safe, predictable machine that will make you feel like a hero and will humiliate some much more expensive hardware.
Brakes, of course, are massive discs at all four corners, and thanks to this car's featherweight construction, they're absolutely impervious to fade on the street, no matter how hard you're running. And there's simply nothing that looks better on a Cobra than a set of Halibrand-style wheels with geenuine knock offs. This Cobra wears 18x8.5 American Racing wheels up front and 18x10 American Racing wheels out back that even have the correct safety wire holding the knock offs in place. Wrapped around thopse gorgeous wheels is 245/40/18 Nitto Invo tires up front and 295/35/18 Nitto invo tires in the rear.
A set of beautifully stitched and formed black leather buckets form the foundation of the interior, and they're a massive upgrade over the shells that came in original Cobras and most replicas. Featuring the Backdraft Racing logo embroidered on the backrest, these seats are ergonomically designed with better lateral and thigh support, and are adjustable to accommodate drivers over six feet tall. The leather-covered dash is full of electronic instruments that keep an eye on all the engine's vitals, and look great doing it. A custom shifter that is canted forward like the original manages the 5-speed, while a beautiful wood rimmed steering wheel looks right at home in the vintage roadster's interior. 4-point racing harnesses are provided for both driver and passenger, and I don't think I've ever seen silver belts before, which are a cool custom addition. To help control noise and heat, the interior is fully carpeted and floor mats with bound edges and Backdraft Racing logos are included. In back, the trunk is surpsingly spacious, thanks to the fuel tank being located beneath the car. Fully carpeted as well, it can carry a week's worth of clothes for you and a passenger, or perhaps the proverbial two sets of golf clubs. Not bad for a two-seater.
So to all you guys with nice Cobra replicas out there, this is the standard by which we'll be measuring in the future. Beautifully finished, sinister to look at, and frighteningly fast, this Cobra delivers on the promises made by its appearance. Craftsmanship matters, and engineering, both on the manufacturer side and the assembler side, is critical. This is a Cobra that's docile enough to drive around town, but designed for the rigors of the track. And they simply never go out of style. This one is nice and a bargain at twice the price. Call today!
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