One might expect a Cobra with an engine displacing 427 cubic inches to be an absolute beast on the street. It is utterly to the contrary, with a positively placid disposition at low speeds. This faked us out completely because we expected to find a machine with a vicious, bear-trap clutch and an engine that idled something like a Double-A fuel dragster. We found the 11.5 inch Ford clutch to be no more challenging than a normal domestic unit and the engine ticked off a 700-rpm idle with style and grace. In fact, the smoothness of the Cobra at low speeds completely belies its breathtaking performance, and only when the throttle is cracked does the driver realize the reservoir of power is practically a bottomless pit. A top speed of 165 mph is possible with the car’s standard 3.54:1 final drive ratio, and that should be sufficient for travel on any thoroughfare except the Mulsanne Straight.
Like the engine, the transmission is a standard Ford four-speed unit that operates like all the other domestic all-synchros on the market today. Lest there be any misunderstanding, that means we love it.
The 427 Cobra is bulkier looking than its forerunner, and if anything, looks meaner. It utilizes the same wild fender flares that first appeared on the 289 racing versions, and based on pure subjectivity, we think the 427 Cobra is maybe the toughest looking car on the road.
Everybody knows wire wheels are out and Shelby American is supplying the 427 with Halibrand knock-off, magnesium wheels as standard equipment. They are specially fabricated for the car and are painted black, save for a polished rim and highlights around the air slots. It is possible that special Shelby-manufactured magnesium wheels will replace the Halibrands later on in the year, but the latter will remain as an option throughout the expected production run of about 200 automobiles.
Nearly a year has passed since the 427 Cobra was announced, and skeptics can still be found who will tell you there ain’t no such thing as a production 427 Cobra. This is nonsense. There were at least 50 of the machines at the Shelby plant when we ran our test and more were arriving from England on a daily basis. The new Cobra is a reality and only approximately $7000 cash and the insatiable desire to own the fastest car in four counties stands between you and owning one. If you can scrape up the dough, we recommend that you take the plunge. Like they say, it’ll never hurt you. Or at least it shouldn’t.