Talk about a lot of performance for not a lot of money! Take one lightweight tube-frame chassis, wrap it in high-quality fiberglass that emulates the most famous and curvaceous roadster of all time, then plant a vintage small block up front for whiplash-inducing acceleration. Priced for less than the cost of building one yourself, this Factory Five Cobra hits a lot of high notes, but still leaves you with the opportunity to customize it to your own tastes.

We’ve featured Factory Five Cobras at RK Motors before, and you can look through our archives to see that they’ve been universally high quality in both construction quality and parts selection. Part of that is due to the fact that Factory Five cars allow you to use virtually all the parts from the massive Mustang 5.0 aftermarket, with everything from engines to brakes to coil-over suspensions available as upgrades. They must be doing something right at Factory Five, because there’s a considerable waiting list for new kits. But if you’re the impatient sort like I am, perhaps something that is already finished is more to your liking. Get in, fire it up, and start having a blast on the road this spring.

The body on this little Cobra is very well prepped, and since it’s black, it’s easy to see that a lot of time was spent working the flaws out of the gelcoat before the paint went on. Although Factory Five puts out some quality work, it takes some time and effort to make even the best fiberglass pieces look as good as this car does. No corners were cut, and there’s something very sinister about a midnight black Cobra. Unless I was driving something like a Z06 Corvette or a Viper, I probably wouldn’t mess with this one. I like the relative subtlety of not putting stripes on the car, and obviously the builder was going for something other than the typical boy racer look of most Cobra replicas. Despite the nasty, fire-breathing image Cobras have, I think this one was built to be elegant as well as deadly quick.

All the correct Cobra details have been replicated as well, from the front and rear bumperettes (which were originally used to push-start the cars with another vehicle), to the wind wings, to the all-important side pipes. There’s no chrome roll bar to spoil the classic profile, and now that I’ve seen this Cobra without one, I think I prefer the look. Out back, reproduction taillight lenses match the original Lucas pieces for a correct appearance.

That “Powered by Ford” badge on the fender isn’t lying, and this one goes one better than most by packing a period-correct 1965 date-coded 289. Sure, the 427s get all the press for being insanely fast sledgehammers designed to pound Ferrari-shaped nails, but most Shelby enthusiasts agree that the 289s were sweet-handling, better balanced cars that were 9/10s as fast. Nicely detailed with a vintage-looking Cobra air cleaner and a pair of Cobra-logo valve covers, it looks quite appropriate in the Cobra’s engine bay. Under that Cobra air cleaner is a 4-barrel Holley carburetor just like Ol’ Shel used, and the headers dump into those killer sidepipes I mentioned before. You’ll notice modern-tech things like the billet pulleys, the electric pump for the power steering system (no need to steal horsepower, right?), and modern electric fans keeping it all cool. There’s also a power braking system to make this car a lot friendlier on the street, and it’s all tucked into that tiny engine bay very neatly, with good service access.

Factory Five’s tubular chassis is incredibly stiff and secure, not following the original’s ladder-style construction, which is a good thing. The entire frame was powdercoated black for long-lasting durability. The transmission is a T5 5-speed manual from a Mustang, which means a steep first gear for acceleration, and an overdrive fifth gear for easy cruising. The front suspension features upper and lower tubular A-arms with coilovers, while out back a 10-bolt rear is held up by a triangulated 4-link. The front steering is by rack-and-pinion, and is powered by that electric pump I mentioned earlier for razor-sharp responses without excessive effort. Brakes are discs up front and drums out back, but on this lightweight car, you don’t need massive rotors at all four corners to detach your retinas. Wheels are gorgeous Halibrand replicas with gold centers that look smashing against the black paint, and tires are 235/60R15 front and 275/50 R15 rear BFGoodrich Radial T/As.

Reinforcing the feeling that this car was built to be an upscale take on the Cobra legend is the tan leather interior. Where most Cobras use bare-bones black and aluminum panels, this one is fully upholstered and feels very luxurious compared to many of its brothers. The seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced in a Cobra, and the doors close much more solidly than most kit cars’ do. The dash has been faced in matching tan leather, and the trick reverse-rotation gauges aren’t by Smiths, but by Autometer—cool! Correct AC aluminum foot pedals were used for an authentic feel, and the shifter is just like the forward-canted original that was stolen from the Mustang, reversed, and installed in the early Cobras. Simpson 5-point harnesses were installed for safety, and a powerful Alpine stereo system provides entertainment, just in case the dynamics of the car aren’t enough. And let’s not forget that beautiful wood wheel, an excellent reproduction of the original. The trunk is very nicely finished as well, with full carpeting instead of the usual sheets of aluminum, again adding to this car’s luxury-oriented feel.

Sure, you could build your own. Order it now and maybe you’ll have the kit by next Thanksgiving. Then you can locate parts, paint and prep everything, assemble the chassis, and find a guy willing to work on a fiberglass shell. Then find an upholstery shop to stitch up a gorgeous interior in real leather. You could do all that and maybe by 2013 you could be on the road in your own Cobra. Alternatively, you could buy this one with all the hard work done. As I said, the cool thing about these cars is that they can evolve, quickly or as you have time to do it, and you can easily put your own mark on it. Want stripes? This car is ready. More horsepower? Just a few phone calls away. Independent rear suspension? There are bolt-in kits. No matter what you’re looking for in a Cobra, this car can do it. I like it just fine as-is, but the sky’s the limit on this one. If you’re the impatient sort, or simply recognize the smart economics of buying a finished car, you really need to check this one out. Call today!

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$299.00 Dealer Administrative Charge is not included in advertised price. All prices and offers are before state, city and county tax, tag, title and license fees. Out of state buyers are responsible for all state, county, city taxes and fees, as well as title/registration fees in the state that the vehicle will be registered. Dealer not responsible for errors and omissions; all offers subject to change without notice, please confirm listings with dealer.

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1965 Shelby Cobra

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