To say that Carroll Shelby's ferocious 427 Cobra was every kid's dream ride from 1966 on up (you could even say to pre-sent day) is an understatement. Like most things we dream about, the subject matter is often unreachable by us hard working stiffs. That goes for expensive cars as well as supermodels. Come on, admit it, you had that same Farrah Faucet poster on your bedroom wall that I did; right next to said Cobra poster. Today, many people are making their dreams come true, by building a replica, clone, or tribute (choose your favorite word) of their dream ride.
From GT350 Mustangs and '34 Ford street rods to fiberglass Cobra replicas, these vehicles have allowed us "meat and potato" types to enjoy our vision of our dream ride without having to sell everything we've ever owned in our life to buy the real deal. Let's face it, if any of us did own a real Shelby Mustang GT350 (upwards of $100,000 in value), or a 427 Cobra (hold on to your hats-more than $1,000,000), we would all be too scared to drive the thing on today's roads. That's what building a replica or clone allows us to do-enjoy our dreams and be able to actually drive it, usually with a few modern and safety upgrades to make it 21st-century comfortable.
Just to show you how much of an impression the original Cobra has left on so many young people over the years, you can usually see a Cobra replica of just about any brand (Shelby still sells the Cobra as a "continuation" model today, and yes, it's fiberglass too) at a cruise night with throngs of car enthusiasts around it asking the expected, "Is it real?" question and just admiring the lines. Of course, engine specs and the famous 0-100-0 mph record, for which it held for more than 40 years, are also often heard.
That the Cobra was such an impressive (and expensive) car for the time meant that so few ever really had the chance to sit in one, let alone own one. Even the "slab-sided" 289 Cobra, which actually had more race wins than the 427 model, was more expensive than a brand-new Corvette in 1965. The 427 Cobra closed in on $10,000! It doesn't sound like much today when a new Fiesta is around $11,000, but we're talking 1965 dollars, when a new Mustang was around $2,500! Let's see, four Mustangs (with roofs!) or one Cobra? Of course, if we knew then what we know now about their rarity and value, we would have gladly paid the price of entry and socked it away as our retirement nest egg.
So memorable has the Cobra been, from Elvis movies to Bill Cosby's "200mph" comedy routine, that even non-Ford car guys have dreamt about owning one. Mike Steveski of Hudson, Florida, is one of those guys.
No, Mike is not a Ford guy, but we'll cut him some slack since he's not only a serious car guy (mostly Mopars), but he understands and appreciates the history of the Cobra. Mike's built plenty of Fords for customers over the years, and he was so enamored with the Cobra that when it finally came time to build a dream ride of his own, he knew without a doubt what he wanted to build.
The big problem, literally, was that Mike is a strapping 6-foot, 8-inch fellow and the typical replica utilizes the original Cobra's 90-inch wheelbase for authenticity's sake. This usually means anyone north of 6-feet is not going to fit, or at the least not be comfortable for any length of time behind the steering wheel. After some research Mike found Everett-Morrison replicas right in his own backyard (Tampa). Everett-Morrison's replica sits on a 96-inch wheelbase, giving tall fellows like Mike some much welcomed leg room and comfort. The stretch is also done in the door area, making ingress/egress that much easier as well. Being in Tampa meant it was easy for Mike to check things out, pick up his kit, and more (E-M is now in Texas).
Mike wanted his replica to have modern power, braking, and handling, yet retain the classic looks of the iconic roadster. To that end, Mike picked up a wrecked '97 Lincoln Mark VIII and stripped it of its 4.6L Four-Valve engine, rear suspension and driveline, and a few other needed items. Having dropped modular engines into customer cars, he knew it would give the lightweight two-seater good power with smooth manners and respectable gas mileage. The four-cam engine was left stock (nearly 300 hp makes for a fun ride in one of these for sure) and wired it up using ACCEL's DFI engine management. Since the Lincoln had an auto box, Mike backed the modular with a T-45 five-speed manual transmission donated from a Mustang. The Lincoln's IRS was refitted out back, and the kit's Mustang II-style front suspension was used up front without any modifications.
For the interior Mike once again wanted the overall look to be that of a classic roadster, yet with a few modern touches that would make driving more enjoyable and monitoring the modular an easier task. Dolphin digital gauges got the nod for the dash and a Kenwood stereo with four strategically placed speakers do their best to be heard over the roadster's side pipes (and most likely loses). The side pipes, as well as the Cobra-lettered oval air cleaner, are actually from an original Cobra-parts that Mike had stored for many years with dreams of building his own.
The roadster was completed in 1999 and Mike enjoyed it every chance he could. The modular engine certainly raised a few eyebrows when the hood was raised, but Mike never regretted the choice for a minute. Having built dozens of cars over the years, including early Corvettes, Mike says the longer wheelbase of the Everett-Morrison really made the car handle extremely well and the power-to-weight ratio certainly made many a stoplight battle a moot point when the right pedal hit the carpet.
The Cobra came to an end in Mike's life when he stumbled upon the '55 Crown Vic he had built for his dad (also with a Lincoln Mark VIII drivetrain) at a specialty car dealership in Missouri. Mike made a deal to trade the Cobra replica for his dad's Crown Vic with plans to redo the Crown Vic for his father one more time with even more upgrades. Now that's our kind of car guy. The kind who can let his own dream car go to ensure that his father gets his dream car back.
Mike Steveski's Everett-Morrison '66 Cobra Replica
- '97 Lincoln Mark VIII 4.6L 32-valve
- 3.552-inch bore
- 3.543-inch stroke
- Chrome cam covers
- Original 427 Cobra air cleaner
- MSD ignition controller
- ACCEL/DFI engine management
- 280 hp
- 285 lb-ft torque
- Tremec T-45 five-speed manual transmission
- B&M Ripper shifter
- '97 Lincoln Mark VIII 8.8 IRS
- 3.27 gears
- 28-spline halfshafts
- Custom-built "four-into-four" headers
- Original 427 Cobra side pipes
- Front: Mustang II-style double A-arm, coilover shocks
- Rear: '97 Lincoln Mark VIII IRS assembly, coilover shocks
- Front: 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper
- Rear: 10-inch disc, single-piston caliper
- Front: American Racing chrome Nitro, 18x9.5
- Rear: American Racing chrome Nitro, 18x9.5
- Front: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD, P245/40R18
- Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD, P295/35R18
- Black classic bucket seats, black vinyl-covered dash, Dolphin digital instruments, LeCarra Cobra steering wheel, tilt column, Kenwood AM/FM/CD with four speakers
- PPG Mercedes Silver (2001 color) basecoat/clearcoat with black stripes, powdercoated frame, polished side pipes