We tested the Cobra during the same Los Angeles heat wave that contributed to the tragic race riots and found the big car to be amazingly tractable. It refused to heat up, despite several hours of chuffing along on clogged freeways, and this was a welcome contrast to the old 289s, whose temperature gauges were inclined to rise clean off the scale at anything under maybe a sustained 80 miles an hour. The in­stallation of a thick-core, 20-quart radiator, and a bigger grille opening aid greatly in keeping things cool, but the biggest safeguard against overheating is a small fan mounted ahead of the radiator that is thermostatically actuated whenever the water temperature reaches 70 degrees Centigrade.

Heat is a factor in the cockpit, however. With that great brute of a powerplant thumping away just inches ahead of the firewall, a substantial amount of heat is bound to penetrate even the best insulated flooring, and we found that temperatures around the feet were inclined to get awfully uncomfortable after a few hours running. Shelby American engineers are at­tempting to correct this problem with the use of more insulation, but we wonder if there simply just isn’t too much heat to overcome.

Being about seven inches wider than the old 289, the 427 is a more comfortable car; about that there should be no question. The same basic Cobra layout remains essentially unchanged in the new car, includ­ing those hilariously antique metal brake and clutch pedals with the art nouveau “AC” emblem, but every­thing is simply a bit roomier. The seats are deep, comfortable leather-covered buckets that would accom­modate even Goose Tatum without great difficulty. We found that a six-footer sticks a good distance up over the doors, but he’s still well protected by the windshield and any vulnera­bility he might feel is purely psy­chological. The steering wheel is per­fectly positioned, though the shift lever comes out of the tunnel about three inches too far aft to be described as ideal. Although this causes no real upset, a reasonably tall driver will find that he has to bend his elbow as if he was getting ready to let fly with a bowling ball whenever he wants to engage first gear.

For a car that lays valid claim to being the fastest production machine in history, the 427 Cobra is amazingly simple. Its powerplant is the stand­ard big Ford of the type that be pur­chased in any Galaxie at any local dealership. “It’s a big cooking engine, with a rather peaky torque curve that produces a great horsepower reading for the customer and is ideal for flex­ible road driving. But we tune the competition 427s much differently, with a flatter curve,” says Ken Miles.

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