Cosby and the Cobra
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