Ideally this article should’ve started from historical reference to one of the greatest battles of Le Mans or a man with a different vision blah blah blah…
Although I am a huge motorsports fan and respect how legendary of an icon Carroll Shelby was, I think that all of that only applies to the original Cobras; the ones built in sheds with the sole purpose of going racing.
So, what exactly is a Factory Five Racing (FFR) Cobra?
First and foremost, it’s f***ing gorgeous. So gorgeous and attractive that if Angelina Jolie and Mount Fuji had a baby, it would fade in the Cobra’s shade.
But, and it’s a big BUT.
All of that beauty falls apart if the car is poorly assembled. You need to remember that FF Cobra body is just a fiberglass shell laid over a steel frame. If the builder or shop assembling the components has no patience, knowledge or experience, the car will look like it came out of a 70’s cartoon.
Pay attention to the paint job quality and panel gaps; it will give you a true understanding of how well the rest of the car was built.
Although the car is a womanizer, it’s not only the looks that make the famous kit-car interesting. Remember, the original Cobra was a true track car, focused on eating C2’s and 550s for breakfast.
That heritage is not lost in the FFR Cobra. The car can still hit the pavement of your Sunday track day and compete with modern sports cars. Unfortunately, not many owners do it.
But…yes, another one.
It’s still a kit car, and each build is unique. Type of brakes, drivetrain, suspension might vary drastically. You might find an older kit car from a no-name manufacturer with 90’s Ford Escort drum brakes and a GM LS block and another by the likes of Factory Five, Superformance, or Backdraft with 6 piston Wilwood calipers and a Ford 427 under the hood. So look closely at each and every part of the car to make sure that you’re getting the top-notch build.
Market value… Are there any “BUTs” here?
Cobra reproductions (or replicas) have drastically improved thanks to a few bonafide manufacturers like Factory Five, Superformance, Kirkham, Backdraft who truly engineer everything from the chassis to the pedal layout making these modern kits, a new breed of cars. We would even re-classify them as component cars. But that can’t be said of all manufacturers. It certainly can’t be said of no-name budget builds in a shed. So never buy a Cobra without clear documentation. And never ever buy a Cobra that’s claimed to be “original” for reasonable money. Original Cobrasthat left Shelby’s factory line in the 60s start at $750,000. Yup you read that right. If you’re in that market check out Hagerty’s valuation guide on 427 Cobras.
So what if you don’t have a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket? What options do you have for ‘attainable’ replica Cobras? Well some of the most affordable ones are the kits sold by Factory Five Racing. And yes, the kit starts from 20k big ones. But(the last one, I promise), that’s a basic kit.
A good kit will end up at a 50k mark, plus shipping, plus assembly, plus bodywork, plus, plus plus… So keep your dream of getting a Factory Five Cobra for less than 70k under your pillow.
But remember, you’re not just buying a car; you’re replicating emotions that have been extinct since 1967.