The Kirkham Cobra is an all aluminum bodied replica of the legendary 427 Cobra produced by Carroll Shelby during the mid-sixties. The Kirkham brothers saw the need for a top quality replica that would exceed the original. They went to Warsaw, Poland and bought the old MiG Plane factory to produce COBRA bodies and frames. The location was ideal because it provided the square footage and tooling necessary for this project. Likewise, the former employees of the MiG plane factory were well versed in the art of aluminum fabrication.
The Kirkham all aluminum bodied 427 Cobra is arguably better than the original Cobra. Although this sounds like complete automotive heresy there are qualitative and quantitative facts to support this claim. It all comes down to (4) basic reasons; a substantially improved power to weigh ratio, substantially improved front to rear weight distribution, a more rigid frame, and better fit and finish on the aluminum body.
The original 427 Cobra was a seriously fast car with a 427 cubic inch engine that produced 475 horsepower. The downside to the engine was its hefty weight of 650 pounds. This not only added 200 pounds to the overall weight of the car but also made the car front end heavy. The Kirkham Cobra offers an exact replica 427 engine cast in aluminum (block, heads, intake manifold) which produces 650 horsepower that weighs just 460 pounds. The original 427 Shelby Cobra weighed 2,400 pounds and produced 475 horsepower with a resulting power to weight ratio of 5.05. The Kirkham Cobra weighs 2,200 pounds and produces 650 horsepower with a resulting power to weight ration of 3.38. It is self evident that the Kirkham Cobra will eclipse the original Cobra in acceleration performance.
The shedding of 200 pounds is significant not only from a power to weight ratio perspective but also from a front to rear weight distribution perspective. The COBRA race drivers unanimously preferred the handling characteristics of the 289 Cobra. The lighter engine made for an almost neutral weight distribution (51% front, 49% rear). The cast iron 427 engine was too front heavy and created a severe case of handling under steer. The Kirkham optional all aluminum 427 engine is 20 pounds lighter than the original 289 cast iron block and restores the neutral weight distribution coveted by the COBRA race drivers.
The Kirkham has a replica frame to the original Shelby but is fabricated in thick wall stainless steel (versus mild steel on the original) making it stronger. The body of the Kirkham is precisely finished with symmetrical panels and even gaps (as opposed to the less than perfect Shelby originals). The Kirkham COBRA is so good that Carroll Shelby himself uses Kirkham bodies and frames on his continuation series cars. The Kirkham COBRA pictured belongs to Peter Kraabel of Redmond, Washington. The car has a presence that defies words. Peter refers to the car as being “scary fast” and admits to physically shaking every time after he drives it.