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Kirkham Shelby AC Cobra

289 FIA cobra aluminum body with a stiffened 427 frame and stroked and bored small block Ford 348ci

This body/chassis was constructed in 2001 by Kirkham Motorsports and was the first of the Kirkham hybrid 289 FIA body/427 chassis, a configuration conceived by Mike Shoen and developed by Tom Kirkham. The concept was to combine a 289 FIA body with a stiffened 427 frame, stroked 289 motor with aluminum heads and a modern T-10 transmission.

Because of its metallurgy, wall thickness and stiffer alloy inner fenders, the Kirkham frame is stiffer than the original 427 frame. In 2002 Shoen commissioned Chris Harrison of Harrison Autodynamics to finish the car and add ¾” tubing frame stiffeners copied from the Cobra Daytona coupe.

This car, at 1,999 lbs., is lighter than the original 289 Competition Cobra because of an acrylic windshield and aluminum: heads, differential housing, radiator and bell housing. There is no need for a steel bell housing because the 4” multi-plate clutch has a 17,000 rpm limit.

The 427 Cobra driver’s seat is 1” higher than a 289 Cobra’s because the 427 seat rests on a longitudinal 4” tube. In this car, the seat was moved outboard one inch and the 4” tube pounded in slightly, lowering the seat 1 ¼”.

The water radiator air exit and forward-tilt radiator were copied from the Daytona coupes to keep the nose down. The windshield tilts back like the 289 FIA Cobras to reduce frontal area. The chin spoiler is a copy of those used by the FIA cars at Spa Belgium 1964. The louvers on top of the hood relieve engine heat and were copied from the first 289 Competition Cobra, CSX 2002. The front inner fenders are vented to relieve air build up, copied from the original 427 Competition Roadsters. The air scoop on the driver’s side cowl was copied from the Daytona Coupes and directs cold air on the driver’s feet. The acrylic door side windows were copied from Phil Hill’s 1964 FIA Cobra at Sebring.

Brakes are vented Willwood. The 348 c.i. motor was the last customer motor built by Don Roberts who now works exclusively for Jim Click Racing.

The idea was to use 1967 technology and build the car that Ken Miles would have designed, had he lived and had Ford financed a 1967 Shelby American Competition Cobra.

For full information about the car, the history of Cobra racing, and much more, please visit:

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