Mountain Cobra

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Story and Photos by Sephen Sessa
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In the early 1960's race car driver Carroll Shelby worked with a British sports car maker and American V-8 engines to build a true sports car with the muscle to compete with the likes of Jaguar, Corvette and Aston Martin. The result was the Cobra Mark IV. While only Shelby American Inc, can legally use the name Cobra, the best Mark IV's today are built as a kit car by Factory Five, a small company in Massachusetts. We found one of these beauties in an old garage in the hills of West Virginia.
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When I moved to a small cabin in the woods of West Virginia from Manhatten 40 years ago, mechanics were not my strong suit. However, I was very fortunate to have a neighbor who--you know the type--could fix anything. Over the years there were many times I needed Bill's help. He fixed my lawn mower, weed whacker and carburetor. Bill’s forte, though, was automobiles.
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So I wasn’t surprised to see the very sleek “1965 Shelby AC Cobra” built from a Factory Five Kit. Carroll Shelby sued Factory Five over the name, because their kit was so good. They had to stop calling it a Shelby but the cat was out of the bag for automobile enthusiasts.
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Bill remembers standing between his father’s legs at age nine learning how to drive, and soon after took a bicycle completely apart and put it back together. His first car was a 1930 Model A Ford four-door sedan. By the time he was fifteen, he could fix anything and probably owned a hundred cars.
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Jump to the 2000s. Bill always loved Shelbys and decided once and for all to buy the kit and build it. More important than the kit was the donor car. In this case it was a 2004 Mustang GT automatic. Bill found one in Virginia pretty badly beat body-wise, but the motor and other parts he needed were good.
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Bill had the fork lift operator put the forks through the windshield and lift the body away a bit from the chassis. Then it was loaded onto the special trailer Bill and his son Aaron built to bring the car home. The Factory Five people told Bill the automatic wouldn’t fit. But, he knew better.
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