One of the many reasons I love my wife of seven years is her admiration of (read: lust for) Carroll Shelby’s eponymous Cobra. Who knows exactly what it is about this design which speaks so powerfully to her, but I’m happy it’s that and not something dumb and ugly like a Porsche Panamera.
Thankfully, she realizes we are of mortal financial means. So rather than have us start selling internal organs that may prove useful later in life, she wants me to build her a replica. Which is okay, since many of today’s replicas rival and sometimes surpass the original in engineering and fit and finish. Performance? The sky is the limit.
One particularly fine builder of Cobra-shaped cars is Kirkham Motorsports. The Kirkham brothers build aluminum-bodied reproductions in a former MiG factory in Poland. Yes, really. I use to word ‘reproductions’ rather than ‘replicas’ because the Kirkhams used their own Cobra, CSX 3104, as the model. They took some artistic license with the engineering (making it better) but not the design (perfect as it was). The finished product is stunning.
So what could top that? Apparently, one day Oracle CEO Larry Ellison came calling, asking for a one-off, cost-no-object car. Everything is hand-made and perfect. Not nice, not close, but perfect. Two and a half years later it was done. The end result is mind-boggling, with detail work Ettore Bugatti couldn’t even dream about.
What’s next? How about a US$4500 book chronicling the process?
Much of Ellison’s Cobra was hewn from aluminum billet. Some pieces were not, like the tires and engine. Fittingly, so is the cover and binding for the book; when the Kirkham brothers say ‘hard-cover’ they mean it. The pages inside are premium 12-inch square cover stock. Each copy requires 30 hours to machine and assemble.
I would love to some day assemble a Kirkham Cobra, a lovely beast with pieces fabricated by old-world masters. These must be the ultimate Cobras this side of Carroll’s originals. But alas I can’t even afford this book. Luckily, the contents are available on Kirkham’s website in PDF format. Make a pot of coffee and blow off tomorrow morning looking at every page and reading every word. It is time well-spent.