Superformance Cobra - Shelby Cobra Test Drive with Chris Moran


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Superformance Shelby 427 Cobra from D&M Motorsports by Chris Moran
It’s mea culpa time. While it’s probably best not to begin a review with an apology, I’d be fairly derelict in my auto bloggin’ duty if I didn’t admit that not only does this review represent my first time in a Cobra — ever — but that I went in wanting to love the car. After all, not only is the Cobra Daytona Coupe the single greatest car I’ve ever driven, but I’m what you might call a Shelby-head. At least once a week my fiancee is hollering at me to put one of my several Shelby books back in the bookcase. But still, before today, I’d never driven a Cobra.

Of course, purists will argue I still haven’t. This gun metal gray beauty wasn’t built on Princeton Ave. in Venice Beach. Nor was it built at Shelby America’s hanger near LAX. In fact, it wasn’t even built in America. No, this particular Cobra — the Superformance MKIII R, a special version of their MKIII — is built in South Africa. Recently, too. The MKIII R actually has a modern, square-tube spaceframe chassis with different hard points and suspension than you’d find underneath a classic Cobra’s skin. Perhaps it’s not a “real” Cobra, but here’s what Carroll Shelby has to say about Superformance’s efforts, “It’s not a true Shelby, but I’ve endorsed and licensed the car for being as close to correct and well-built as possible.” Good enough for me. And old Carroll was talking about the regular MKIII, not the one-of-two-ever-built MKIII Rs. And it’s only when you start to take in the finer details of the MKIII R that you realize just how special this particular vehicle is. First of all, unlike the bulk of Cobra recreations, the hoses coming out of the lower, jaw-mounted oil cooler aren’t anodized red and blue metal — they’re black. In fact all the trim on the MKIII R’s exterior is black chrome. Each piece is hand dipped and goes beautifully with the Viper Steel Grey paint and dual red and black pinstripes. The miniature beast sits crouched on 18-inch American Racing 427 Series wheels with custom pin drive centers.
In all honesty, the MKIII R’s one of the most beautiful vehicles I’ve ever laid eyes on… and I’ve looked at plenty. During our photo shoot, Drew Phillips and I just kept shaking our heads in amazement. You just don’t see cars this lusty, this sculpted and this desirable. We were just mesmerized by its dark, sinister charms — hypnotized even. The longer you leer the better looking it gets. From the pontoons supporting the tri-power lights, to the longer than you’d think snout, to the massive rear-haunches, to the aluminium dash and rear-firewall — every line, every curve, ever angle is placed perfectly and brought to life by a meticulous finish. Drew, for his part, has shot dozens of Cobras and kept repeating, “I think this is my favorite.” Mine too.

But is there go with all that show? I suppose now’s the point where I should explain that the “R” in Superformance MKIII R stands for Roush. And under the aluminum hood sits an absolute brute of a motor. A Roush 427 SR to be specific — one that generates 520 horsepower and 530 pound-feet of torque. And all that fury gets ram-rodded through a nine-inch racing clutch to a Dana Hydra-Lok limited-slip differential fitted with 3.46:1 gears. Superformance took great pains to point out that the entire clutch assembly — the clutch, flywheel and pressure plate — weighs just twenty-two pounds. The MKIII R rides around on Bilstein coilovers (mounted straight up and down, unlike the original cars slanted inboard shock system) and gets hauled to a stop by Wilwood Big Brakes.

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