A Once-in-a-Lifetime 1965 427 Cobra
John Robidou first fell in love with a Shelby 427 Cobra when he was 17. While washing the car during his first job at a body shop, he remembers the experience as “one of the biggest thrills of my life.” Impressed with the vehicle’s body lines and enormous horsepower, Robidou never lost his passion for the Cobra. Finally, in 2004, the production manager at A&M Auto Body in Eugene, Ore., got the opportunity to build his dream car.
Manufactured as a limited production car between 1963 and 1967, the Cobra—priced at $10,000 when Robidou was a teen—is now worth over half a million dollars. Robidou knew he could never afford such a rare and expensive car, so he saved more than $10,000 to purchase a Factory Five kit of the vehicle. Robidou spent three years building the car, and now the Cobra—weighing only 2,200 pounds and boasting 0 to 60 mph in just three to four seconds—is all his.
CAR IN PROGRESS
A few years before he purchased the kit, Robidou bought another car in anticipation of needing it for parts while building the Cobra. Knowing certain parts weren’t included with the kit, “I bought a wrecked Mustang and pulled all the parts out and stored them away,” he says. “The [Cobra] uses the engine, transmission, suspension, rear end and wiring harness from a 1987 to 1994 Mustang.”
Though Robidou spent two or three hours a night and weekends building the car, he never worried about the time. “It wasn’t really a chore,” he says. “It was fun and interesting. I learned a lot. I’d never taken an engine out of a car before, and I did that by myself. I was proud.”
Along the way, Robidou added a few personal touches to make the car his own. “I added the original style taillights,” he says. “I bought hinges from another kit company that I bonded into the fiberglass body and inside the trunk so it would have hidden trunk lid hinges.”
The hardest part of the project came when it was time to fit the doors. “The doors that came with the car did not fit,” Robidou says. “They were twisted somehow.” He contacted Factory Five, and they assured him they would ship another pair. A month passed, however, and Robidou still hadn’t received them, so he called again. After Robidou’s third call, they finally shipped the doors, but when they arrived they were still difficult to fit. “I spent a day or so trimming the two doors. I’d sand them down and take off an eighth of an inch and put it back. I probably had each door off and on eight or 10 times.”
PRIDE AND JOY
Robidou says his favorite moment of the entire process was seeing the Cobra really come together. “The best part was when the body was painted and we set it on the frame. That was the most exciting part.”
When the car was finally finished, “I felt overjoyed,” Robidou says. “I felt a sense of accomplishment.” The admiration and appreciation from others doesn’t hurt, either, he laughs: “Everyone loves it!”