Scratch-Built Snake



I have been restoring ’65-’68 Mustangs at my house for 41 years. I have done 200 Mustangs and kept only a ’65 Shelby, which took me seven years to put together.

Now at 63 years old, I have decided I would like to build a ‘65 cobra with my son. Please help me with some literature or parts I might need. Thanks.


Assuming you want to build a replica of a ’65 Cobra, there are many choices to consider. The first question of course is how much do you want to spend?

With unlimited funds The Kirkham Cobra is considered the BEST with an aluminum body, stainless frame and accurate details. Although with prices starting at 100k before adding a few options it may be too rich for many enthusiasts. Additionally, it is not really a kit, so it may not satisfy your need to build.

Arguably, many consider the ERA kit to be one of the better fiberglass kits available and have a solid reputation amongst enthusiasts.

Other Cobra kits you should consider include:

Factory Five Racing
Unique Motorcars
Hurricane Motorsports
Backdraft Racing (
Shelby Cars NW “CSX Continuation Series Cobras“

This is just a short list of manufacturers I am aware of that manufacture good quality kits. By no means is this a complete list and would encourage you to do additional research before making a buying decision.

Other things to consider:

  • Make sure you understand what parts you are getting. More complete kits can save a ton in gas just going to get bolts and it all adds up in build time lost.
  • Get a build manual and read it. If the manual is not good, move on.
  • When considering the opinions of others, determine if they were the builder or simply a buyer. Builders will know first-hand of any shortcomings in the kit.
  • Best of luck with your selection and build. Cobras are fun cars to drive and always draw their share of attention when sitting still.

    Wrench safe,

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8 Responses to “Scratch-Built Snake”

  1. Doug

    I built a Factory Five Roadster about 20 years ago and 20 years later it still turns heads.

  2. Joe Bauer

    The Shelby Cobra is what got me hooked on cars. It's a very beautiful car and is the most replicated vehicle in history, which is understandable. Before buying anything, I'd recommend figuring out what you want your Cobra to be. Do you want it to be as close to the originals as possible? Do you want it to be a Cobra only in appearance but everything that matters is built with modern reliability and easy to find parts for? How much power do you want? What is your budget? The extensive background in restoring and fixing Mustangs will help, A LOT! The questions I asked might be the most important though to answer. If you want it to be as original as possible, and you have the budget to support it, Kirkham is as close as you're going to get. Even Shelby American gets their aluminum bodied continuation / replicas from Kirkham. Shelby American buys from Kirkham and from Superformance, then adds a CSX number to it. If you don't have the funds for a Kirkham but you want the best DIY kit out there, Factory Five Racing is extremely hard to beat. It has a massive customer base and support group. No matter what you want to do with a Cobra, someone has done it in the Factory Five owners group. You can keep it original, down to the wiring and fuel pumps, or go as wild as having a Viper engine. Someone has done it to a FFR. Doing your own homework is the best advice I can give. Look at all the manufacturers and come up with your own conclusions. Find out where that company produces their kits / rollers. There are lots of good reasons why Kirkham is the gold standard for Cobras and Factory Five Racing has produced the most kits, out-selling pretty much all other companies combined. The only reason why Factory Five Racing wasn't endorsed by Carol Shelby is because FFR wasn't willing to fork up a bunch of money to the chicken farmer in a major lawsuit, Superformance was willing to pay for it. As far as quality goes though, FFR is hard to beat.

  3. John Johnson

    Am in the same boat. Have body, engine, trans, etc. Made my own sandblast booth from plywood and window glass. Suspension is being pieced together from Ford vehicles. F series truck control arms, Crown Victoria control arms, Crown Victoria spindle and brakes, etc. these are easily sand blasted, checked for damage, painted, and new bushings installed. Chassis is being scratch built from plans from "Cobra Restorers". Not all parts will be made from prints since Jaguar parts were initially used. Ford makes an IRS of 8.8" that I am considering. I have a Ford 9" that I am considering modifying into an IRS using additional F series and CV control arms. Doing so I will convert drawings and parts to CAD to lay out the chassis to scale. Brackets to mount suspension components are subject to design as required in CAD with metal shop to waterjet, laser, or plasma cut what is needed in quantity. Burning out to printed drawings by Plasma or Oxy- Acetelene is possible. Equipment is available in many shops. Mill and drill are available for machining as required. Welding and painting will be done in my garage.

  4. Bud

    My son in law has built several Cobra Kit cars. He researched for about a year, even visiting the manufacturers of a few of the kits. He settled on Factory 5 as the best kit available and has not regretted it. Based on his experience, I would not consider any other kit.

  5. JIM


  6. Edward

    I built and drove a Factory Five roadster for 12 years....IMHO, this is the best DIY kit on the market... Certainly the safest and most researched chassis made...Don't believe the hype, you can plan on at least a year's hard work, to get it finished...I was working full time when I built my car, and it took two years...Don't go for the big-block b.s., small blocks, properly set up, will rule in this kingdom. Mine was a supercharged 302, and danced with the big boys handily.

  7. Tom O'Neill

    I did the same thing beginning in October of 1998 with my youngest son. We started with what I would say was the best true kit car available at that time, A Classic Roadster's 427SC. As stated in Mark's reply, getting as complete a kit as available will save you tons of time and the Classic Roadster was just that, You were given two manuals, a donor car manual showing what you would need to take from a Mustang II or Pinto, and a assembly manual with complete details of how to assemble each segment of the build. As for parts you needed to purchase you were not only given the description but also the part number needed. The wiring harness was complete with provisions for A/C, back up lamps, solenoid door latches, Electric fan, Center High Mount Stop lamp and electric fuel pump. All mounting locations for under hood were identified in the body mold to correspond with the harness. You provided the engine, trans, drive shaft, rear axle, shocks, electric cooling fan and seat belts, wheels and tires and the donor car components listed before. I only found one mounting hole for the radiator (also provided) that needed to be slightly opened up to accept the bolt on my kit. From start to finish, including paint, we spent nine months during the build and that was while working full time and my son going to high school and he rebuilding the 351 Windsor engine we chose to power our Cobra. I have now been enjoying my Cobra for 24 years and my son will be getting the cars as his soon. Mark is correct that it is a fun car to drive and draws major attention wherever I drive it. Unfortunately, Classic Roadsters is no longer in business but I was never unhappy for choosing them for my CObra Kit. Tom

  8. Judson Shutts

    Ive owned two Factory Five Cars, a GTM supercar and currently a Type 65 Daytona and they are the best bang for the buck and the factory is great in giving support as well as the Forum. Highly recommend FFR....