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Handmade Cobra Combines Mild with Wild


If you have the hots for a Cobra but don’t have a spare half mil for the real thing – even supposing you can find one – there’s no alternative but to go the replica route.

That’s what Jonathan decided a few years ago when the Cobra bug bit. A Nelson panelbeater with some light engineering and mechanical experience in the skills mix, he decided not just to go replica, but to build it himself, a project that took more than two years over some 4000 hours.

The two-seater’s powered by a 350 Chev with alloy fast-burn heads, sequential injection, roller cam, and is chipped. But it’s far from a skitterish engine, says Jonathan. “After owning carburetted V8s I find this is a no-fuss engine.” It was built to be a road car, rather than an out-and-out performer, and at one point was being used as a daily driver and for weekend trips. “But these days it only gets used to get the newspaper two or three times a week,” says Jonathan. “Being fuel injected it’s cheap to run, for a V8, and will do 25mpg without any trouble.”  It’s so far covered some 26,000km since being first registered in August 2004. “I find it extremely smooth; effortless and quick on winding roads.”

Gearbox is a shift kitted fully rebuilt Th350 auto with a new but modified B&M 1500 stall torque converter, and a Hurst ratchet shifter.
This Cobra can take off with a hiss or a roar. The exhaust has hand-made 4-into-1 headers with HPC-coated hand-made side pipes. “Mufflers behind the rear wheels make to make it a quiet car but caps have been placed in the side pipes for removal, if you want that real V8 sound,” says the builder.

The differential and suspension were taken from a Jag Xj6 and rebuilt. The diff is a 2.88:1 limited-slip. Brake discs are cross drilled Brembos with Jag two-pot calipers in the back and fur in the front. Carrera adjustable shocks are fitted and it all rides on 17x9 ROH rims with 255/45-17 tyres. The chassis is a fully triangulated backbone-style, designed by Jonathan and made of mostly 50 x 1.6mm square RHS tube. All inner panels are alloy sheet (1.2 and 2mm thick) and the engine panels are polished.

Purchased in New Zealand, Jonathan says the body caused him a fair amount of trouble. “I had to spend a lot of time making it square and symmetrical, all the inner panels were distorted and had to be thrown away.” He widened the body 180mm at front and 90mm at rear to allow the same track front and rear, improving handling, adding more interior space and eliminating the need for different-sized tyres at each end.  All guards were re shaped and Jonathan made the inners for doors, boot and bonnet. The interior is fitted with Autosport seats, four-point harnesses, Smiths gauges and, wait for it, spider webs sewn in the door trims and between the seats. The car comes with a hand-made hard top, which is lined on the inside, with built-in sun visors.

You might think that with all that time, sweat and thought invested, Jonathan and the car would be headed into a long-term affair, but he’s selling it “because at this point I’d rather have a house than a car and due to house prices in Nelson I can’t have both.
“There’s nothing quite like driving a car you have completely made by yourself, from start to finish, but sadly I think it’s time to let someone else have the fun.”

AC Cobra replica, 2004, POA. Call Jonathan on 027 252-8995

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