A Factory Five Shelby Cobra-Replica meets the real thing on a drag strip
The Factory Five Roadster is the best-selling replica of the original AC Shelby 427 Cobra. Considering that prices for the original 427 Cobras are now hovering around the $1 million mark, the Factory Five Roadster Mk 4 kit starting at around $15,000, this is any enthusiast’s ticket to a taste of a Cobra. But how good is the replica compared to the original?
That’s what Gunpowder and Gasoline, the most popular gun and automotive TV show currently on YouTube, set out to find the answer to. The team pitted a Factory Five Roadster with a 5.0-liter Ford Coyote V8, against the big muscle car villain himself: an all-original big-block AC Shelby 427 Cobra. Of course, the Cobra has an engine capacity on the side, all 7 litres! Before both cars are put through their paces, the team decides to even things out by adding a few parts to the Roadster to help balance the scales.
It’s the age-old question of modern engineering versus classic muscle. Except that, this time, the cars are practically the same, just separated by 45 years of development!
This Million Dollar Shelby 427 Cobra Has A NASCAR Engine
The Shelby 427 Cobra is no ordinary Snake, however. It’s a whole different beast than the regular Cobra with a 4.3/4.7-liter V8. Only 300 (or 343 depending on who you ask) of the 427 Cobras were built in total, as they were originally intended for competition. Each with a 7-liter Ford V8 developed for NASCAR that produced 410 HP, with the ultra-rare competition models pushing that up to 485 HP, good for a 0-60 MPH time of around 4.2 seconds. If the rear tires can hook up, they can.
Prices are north of a million dollars, with a 427 Cobra recently selling for over two million dollars! That puts it out of reach for most people, but the Factory Five Roadster is a great alternative for enthusiasts looking to get their hands dirty.
The Factory Five Roadster is modified to face the snake
While the base Factory Five Roadster kit starts at $15,000 with no transmission or running gear, if you’re considering one as a project car, that leaves plenty of freedom to choose from. Factory Five kits have been designed to support a wide variety of motors, brakes, suspensions and more, depending on the horsepower desired. And your budget, of course. For $21,000 though, you can get a complete kit, ready for the drivetrain, wheels and tires of your choice.
This particular Factory Five roadster is powered by a 5.0-liter Ford Coyote V8, the same engine found in everything from Ford pickup trucks to the Ford Mustang. To give it a chance against the 427 Cobra, the team decided to give it a little more firepower, and beef up the braking and suspension.
For starters, the standard rear axle is upgraded to a Moser Engineering rear that can handle more power without turning into candy. While the team plans to test the handling of both cars on a slalom course, the Roadster’s stock suspension makes way for adjustable Koni coilovers. Wilwood ventilated brake discs and six-piston brakes are then added to ensure that the Roadster can also come to a stop in no time. On the engine side, the stock intake is replaced with a Ford Racing Boss 302 intake. A reflash to the engine control unit takes the horsepower from around 465 HP closer to 500 HP. The whole thing in the total build comes in at around $40,000. Not bad at all, especially considering the sequel.
The replica is faster than the original 427 Cobra!
With all the suspension and brake upgrades from the Factory Five Roadster, not to mention the new stickier rubber, the Roadster manages to be faster on the slalom course. On a short course, the two-second difference really highlights just how much of a difference modern suspension, brakes and tires can make. On a full-length racetrack, that difference will easily hit double digits. The Roadster, unsurprisingly, also stops shorter when braking from 60 MPH, but we expected that. The real question is how much faster will it be over a quarter-mile over the big-block NASCAR engine in the 427 Cobra?
Turns out the answer is just over 1.5 seconds. Even with a professional driver behind the wheel of the 427 Cobra, it manages a best quarter-mile timing of 14.43 seconds. The modified Roadster, on the other hand, crossed the line in 12.86 seconds, with a closing speed of 114 MPH compared to the Cobra’s 92 MPH.
Of course, the replica smoked the original in these tests, but we’re sure the result would be much closer if both cars were on the same tyres. After all, no matter how powerful a car is or how easy it is to handle, it all depends on the contact patch created by the tires. We can’t wait to see a rematch, this time with the 427 Cobra on modern rubber!