Cosby and the Co­bra

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - TIMBLAIR blairt@dai­lytele­

THE cur­rent Mini Cooper is a de­light­fully chuck­able and speedy lit­tle run­about, due to its short wheel­base, low weight and zesty 1.6-litre turbo en­gine.

But even a Mini’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions can be im­proved. Why not start by cut­ting that al­ready-brief wheel­base down by an­other 15cm or so? We can prob­a­bly lose about 40kg. And let’s re­place that tiny four­cylin­der with, I don’t know, maybe a 7.0-litre Ford V8.

That was Texan chicken farmer Car­roll Shelby’s recipe for his awe­some 1966 427SC Co­bra, shoe­horn­ing the V8 into a curvy Bri­tish road­ster body to make a sports car so shat­ter­ingly pow­er­ful that it ruled race tracks world­wide even while be­ing so de­monic that some of the planet’s best driv­ers some­times lost con­trol while at­tempt­ing to merely keep the thing in a straight line.

Shelby died last week at 89, a re­mark­able age for some­one who spent a great deal of time in his own wicked Co­bras. Yet, in­cred­i­bly, there were some who felt the 427SC not pow­er­ful enough. One was US co­me­dian Bill Cosby, who in the ’ 60s took de­liv­ery of a spe­cial Co­bra. A du­al­su­per­charged 600kw Co­bra.

Cosby, who is some­how still alive, once de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing it:

‘‘ Ladies and gen­tle­men, I was idling. I was idling. The car had not moved. I had not put my foot on the gas pedal. And it was killing peo­ple.’’

To en­joy the full ter­ror of Cosby’s Co­bra own­er­ship, hit Youtube and dial up a com­edy piece ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled 200

MPH. And mar­vel again that Shelby and at least some of his cus­tomers lived for so long to tell their tales. God bless that chicken-farm­ing Texan hotrod ge­nius.

NEXT, THE OPEL EVE ENZO Fer­rari’s Chris­tian name adorns one of his com­pany’s finest and fastest cars. The Fer­rari Enzo, built from 2002 to 2004, re­mains a rolling cel­e­bra­tion of Ital­ian au­to­mo­tive supremacy. As opera demon­strates, the Ital­ian lan­guage lends it­self to po­etry and power. We do not al­ways ob­serve this in other lan­guages. Con­sider the com­ing Opel Adam hatch­back, named af­ter the Ger­man com­pany’s 19th­cen­tury founder Adam Opel. Now, there’s noth­ing wrong with the name Adam. Noth­ing at all. Just so long as it isn’t the name of a car. SENNA IN­SIN­CERE SCHOL­ARLY Bri­tish mag­a­zine Viz oc­ca­sion­ally runs pho­to­graphs de­pict­ing deeply in­sin­cere smiles, gen­er­ally in­volv­ing celebri­ties open­ing su­per­mar­kets and the like. For deep in­sin­cer­ity, how­ever, it is im­pos­si­ble to beat Brazil­ian F1 driver Bruno Senna, nephew of mul­ti­ple world cham­pion Ayr­ton. Punted out of last Sun­day’s Span­ish GP by Michael Schu­macher, then in­ter­viewed as Wil­liams team­mate Pas­tor Mal­don­ado stormed to vic­tory, Senna bat­tled hero­ically against the im­pulse to scream: ‘‘That should have been me!’’

His un­cle, a com­pet­i­tive fel­low, would have un­der­stood.

Car­roll Shelby: Chick­en­farm­ing hotrod­der stuffed a mon­ster V8 into a nippy road­ster

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