Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kirkham Custom for Larry Ellison

By Scott Araujo

The AC Ace was one of many sporty, English roadsters. It was a great car on its own but then Carroll Shelby made a deal to put a Ford 289 V-8 into the little roadsters and they became the legendary Shelby Cobra. The rest is the stuff of racing legend.

In the abstract, I usually think of Cobras and their modern day clones as hulking brutes with their 427 engines. In truth, they're quite small in person, as you'd expect of a European sports car. English roadsters are known for their tiny cockpits, it's not uncommon to need to remove a shoe to have enough room to work the pedals, and the Cobras had a wheelbase of only 90". For comparison a Fiat 500 is 90.6", a Honda Fit is 98.4". Subcompact indeed.

Kirkham Cobra interior
The folks at Kirkham Motorsports make some really nice Cobra replicas. You can get either a 289 or 427 and that comes with an aluminum body on a steel chassis, pretty faithful to the original. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and no stranger to spending money, commissioned them to build a cost-is-no-object dream car. They went into overdrive and designed an all aluminum masterpiece.

The powerplant is an aluminum block 427 punched up to 482cu. in., 643HP and 600 foot pounds of torque. Since they make some serious billet racing components they went hog wild and designed an all aluminum chassis made from billet. It's held together with snazzy bits like silver plated stainless steel nuts. They're aircraft parts, the silver plating keeps them from galling even at the temperatures jet engines achieve.

428 cubic-inch Cobra engine
One of the coolest aspects of the car is the finish. The entire body was polished to a high luster. Now you can't have a proper race car without deck stripes. They got 'em, but it looks as if instead of painting them they just surgically Scotch-Brited them into the aluminum. Very subtle, very nice.

A billet bound book of the 2 1/2 year long project is available in limited quantities for $4,500. They've had so much demand that they're considering a more traditional hard bound version. For now, you can read it at the link below.

Kirkham Motorsports
The book on Larry Ellison's car

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