Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Not too long ago, I went for the ride of my life. Not the fastest, quickest, or most refined, but easily the most exciting (so far). If you’ve never had an experience with a Shelby Cobra, take my word for it, like it's name-sake (the venomous snake) it will terrify you. Before we get too far into it, we’d like to thank Joe, the owner of the Hemi swapped Jeep we reviewed before the world shut down (link to that article here), for coming out and taking the time to give me a ride in the Cobra on some twisty back-roads.
An editorial note here: I don’t want to talk about numbers with this one. No comments on 0-60 times or horsepower. This review is about the interesting and mind-blowing experience. Sometimes it's good to skip the numbers and stick to the feelings that an amazing vehicle like this can bring to us.
Back to the story!
It was a hot day. A very, very hot day. Western New York's first 90+ degree weather day and I needed to get out of the house in an attempt to find some relief. An earlier morning text exchange with Joe included a snip of a teaser video. A wooden steering wheel, rumble of a loud V8, an open top. Just what I needed. “Dude I’m so jealous” I shot to him in a quick note. Minutes later Joe responded with words that every automotive journalist loves to hear, “Come for a ride, I’m in town.” Done, I was going. I hopped on my bike and rode about 15 minutes to the other end of town to our meeting spot, I could hear and smell the car before I even pulled into the lot. And boy does the smell of burnt high-octane smell good, even in the heat of the day.
Joe and I stood in the sweltering heat for about five minutes before deciding to hop in the car and go for a rip. “Don’t burn your legs on the exhaust” Joe warned as I got in over the lumpy “blub blub blub” of the V8 motor and the sizzling side pipes of the Cobra. Leaving the lot we were at, Joe gave it a few revs, the V8 roared, deafening both of us for a moment.
Sitting in the car, you feel instantly like this machine was designed purely to thrill users. Typically amenities we've all become used to, NOPE. Three-point seat belts? Very funny. Legroom? Never met him. Airbags? Maybe any safety feature? No sir. See a pattern?
You can tell that this car wants nothing more than to make you scream, and it’ll do anything to achieve its objective.
Out on the road, it feels, um, savage, that’s a good word for it. Savage, the ride quality is nonexistent, the smallest potholes leave you shaking in the too-small seats. Mind you I’m not a tall person, at right about five-foot-eight, my head was sticking proud way above the windshield.
The transmission is obviously a manual and is geared in away that keeps the driver's right arm and left foot constantly in motion. From a passenger's perspective, the shift pattern is impossible to follow, and I have to mention the shift knob is something I'd expect to see on the end of a sorcerer's staff. Again, all part of the experience...
Going into a corner is easy, the turn-in is nice and the steering wheel offers great feedback, it’s coming out that’s the challenging part. Power is near impossible to manage, too much and you’ve spun, too little and in the ditch you go. It’s a true "Goldilocks" car. If the driver can get it just right, it’ll behave.
What’s a modern equivalent of the Cobra? If you look to the 90's you’d think a Dodge Viper? Correct! The Viper was made to pay homage to the Shelby. I’d like to compare it to the early C63’s, the naturally aspirated 6.3 Liter ones. You may think I’m going out on a limb here, but hear me out. The power is raw and comes on hard, and both rear ends are incredibly slippery. The C63 may be much more refined and luxurious, but it puts down its V8 power in a very similar way.
Time to wrap this one up. The Shelby Cobra, should you look to add one to your garage? If wrestling the king of the venomous snake kingdom is your idea of an experience to "feel alive", then this beastly car is for you! They are a truly menacing machine and demand respect from their drivers. If you think you can do that, pick one up, find a twisty back road with sticky pavement on a hot day, and get on it! Not too hard though so you can live to share your own story of the hair-raising experience. Remember, there is no antivenom for this snake's bite!
Image Credits: We'd like to thank Joe from @hilltopphotography for the amazing pictures of the Cobra. Check out his Instagram to contact him if you'd like him to shoot something for you.
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