Dale Amy
June 25, 2014
Photos By: Isaac Mion

Back in the swingin’ ’60s when the crew at Shelby American was busy creating and piecing together small- and big-block Cobras, they would have scoffed mightily if some crystal ball reader had predicted that versions of these charismatic, but simple little brutes, would still be being built a full half-century later. And they would have fallen on the ground laughing at any suggestion that one of those future versions—in small-block form—might boast horsepower well into the four figures, and have no less than four electronic processors onboard. Computers? What are those? Welcome, ladies and gents of the ’60s, to the 21st century.

Lu Stoddard’s staggeringly detailed, five-year Cobra build may pay obvious visual homage to the flared and fearsome 427 S/C, circa 1965, but it also positively bristles with the power and civility afforded by new-millennium technology.

“My concept,” Lu says, “was to build a modern-day AC Cobra, but maintain the original body lines and general appearance.” Mission accomplished.

This Colorado-based black beast makes its 1,009 rwhp and 1,114 lb-ft of rear-wheel torque by way of a twin-turbo 351W—admittedly one that has been bored and stroked to displace the magical 427 cubic inches. But, perhaps most impressive is just how much of this new-age roadster Lu visualized in his clearly oversized brain, and created with his own talented pair of hands. Lu’s personal ingenuity and handiwork can be seen throughout the project, from chassis modifications, to its fastidious paint and bodywork, to its hand-molded carbon-fiber interior panels that form the dash, door panels, console, and bucket seat shells, to the artful fabrication of the underhood induction and exhaust plumbing.

It all started in 2007 with a basic body and chassis from Hurricane Motorsports, and then Lu, best we can tell, just went flat nuts from there. First, he had to alter the chassis for rigidity and to accommodate the poked and stroked Windsor’s pair of 62mm Garrett hybrid turbochargers sourced from Work Turbochargers, as well as the associated snake’s nest of ducting. Of particular note are the intake manifold and inlet plumbing that draws through a pair of Treadstone Engineering air-to-air coolers that are all of Lu’s own design and fabrication. So are the Windsor’s headers, which obviously have to service both turbos themselves, as well as the roadster’s 4-inch-diameter side pipes that Lu also mandrel-bent himself, and then protected with carbon-fiber heat shields.

This twin-turbo madness is all commanded by an Accel Gen 7 DFI system controlling humongous 150-lb/hr Trick Flow injectors, and paired with wideband oxygen sensors for closed-loop efficiency and perfect drivability manners. OK, that’s processor number one. Electronic brain number two is Greddy’s Profec (Spec 2) boost controller that works in concert with a pair of Tial 38mm external wastegates. Lu keeps the boost dialed back to around 10 psi at peak for most occasions. And compressor surge is warded off by the pair of Turbonetics Raptor blow-off valves that look a bit like small air horns on those shiny inlet tubes.

The third onboard processor is a CompuShift 2 box from HGM Electronics that oversees all aspects of the roadster’s wide-ratio 4R70W four-speed automatic. Why an automatic? Likely because there aren’t many manual gearbox and clutch combos that would successfully handle all of that power and still provide decent street civility. That brings us to the fourth and final onboard piece of electronic kit, called the Shrifter, from Twist Machine. The Shrifter wirelessly interfaces with the aforementioned CompuShift tranny processor and feeds it signals from Twist Machine’s paddle shifters you can see mounted behind that very cool leather-and-suede Sparco steering wheel. Lu’s console also houses a stubby little Lokar shifter for mechanical tranny command.

But it’s not just in electronics that things have advanced over the last 50 years. Take brakes, for instance. Back in the day, a 427 S/C would roll out of the factory with decent Girling discs, but nothing like Lu’s Wilwoods. Up front are 13-inch rotors squeezed by six-piston calipers, while out back is a 12-inch, four-piston setup—should do the job nicely on something that weighs only 2,574 pounds.

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Lu also went modern with the lighting, employing HID projector headlights and LED taillights—neither detract from the original appearance of this fat-fendered flyer. Same with the V60 rims from Vintage Wheel Works that, while 2 inches larger in diameter than a Cobra’s 15-inch originals, still manage to look period correct. Those chubby rear skins, by the way, are 345/40R17 Toyo Proxy TQ drag radials, as Lu can no doubt use all the traction he can get—he reports it will still literally smoke those skins at 140 mph.

Note that the wheels, along with the roadster’s exterior/interior trim and roll hoops, are all plated in black chrome, done in a physical vapor deposition process by American PVD. The same process was used on the bright chrome bits underhood. Lu’s obsession with detail is evident no matter where you look on this project. He sums it up this way: “Five years of fabricating just about every part on this car by hand in my shop has given me a real appreciation for what it takes to build a performance vehicle. Some have asked, but it would be impossible to add up the thousands of hours of fabrication, research and thought that have gone into this project.”

It seems the result was worth the effort: “To date,” Lu says, “only four people other than myself have ridden in this car: Jack Sears, Bob Bondurant, Allen Grant, and my father, Lu Sr.—three of those guys were the original drivers for Carroll Shelby back in the 1960s when the Cobra made its name. Not only was it a complete honor to take those gentlemen for a ride, but a thrill to see the huge smiles on their faces. All three commented how they had never felt anything accelerate like that … a pretty big compliment from guys who have raced/won Daytona and LeMans.” Enough said.

The Details
Vehicle: 1965 Shelby Cobra Replica
Owner: Lu Stoddard
427-inch small-block (351W-based stroker)
Dart short-block
Forged 4340 crank
Forged 4340 H-beam rods
Comp Cams hydraulic roller
Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum heads, 70cc chambers, 9.5:1 compression
Twin 62mm Garrett hybrid turbos
Turbonetics Raptor (x2) blow-off valves
Tial 38mm wastegates (x2)
Greddy ProFec Spec II boost controller
Treadstone Engineering air-to-air intercoolers (x2)
RB Racing electric oil scavenge pumps (x2)
Snow Performance ethanol injection
Intake manifold custom fabricated by owner
Ford 4R70W 4-speed automatic, by Silverfox Racing
Dirty Dog Performance 10-inch, 2,800-stall converter
HGM Electronics CompuShift II transmission controller
Twist Machine paddle shifters (radio-frequency wireless)
Lokar shifter on tunnel
B&M cooler
TCI blanket
IRS, 8.8 center section
Moser Trac-Loc diff
Driveshaft Shop 35-spline axles
LPW diff cover/girdle
3.55 gears
Headers with 17⁄8-inch primaries, fabricated by owner
4-inch side pipes
Front: Tubular A-arms, QA1 coilovers, power rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: IRS, QA1 adjustable coilovers
Front: Wilwood disc, 13-inch rotors, six-piston calipers
Rear: Wilwood disc, 12-inch rotors, four-piston calipers
Front: Vintage Wheel Works V60, 17x9.5
Rear: Vintage Wheel Works V60, 17x11
Front: Nitto NT-555R, P275/35ZR17
Rear: Toyo Proxy TQ drag radial, P345/40ZR17
Carbon-fiber seats, dash, and doors custom molded by owner; Auto Meter gauges; Sparco steering wheel; Gallo Tech pushbutton start; upholstery by John’s Auto Upholstery
Basic body and chassis from Hurricane Motorsports; PPG Jet Black and House of Kolor Candy Cobalt Blue stripes; paint and bodywork by owner