The AC Cobra is a legend — you may think there wouldn’t be much room to improve on such a V8 classic. One man has done just that, and remastered the legend into something truly epic.
Everybody remembers having a dream car from their childhood. Paul Bassett, the owner of Hutt City Auto Services, was no different. Since the age of 12 he has dreamed of having an AC Cobra of his own. It all began on the motorway where he saw not one, but a black and white pair of Cobras cruising. ‘Ebony’ and ‘Ivory’ they were called, and it was love at first sight.
Eighteen years down the track and it was at Graham Berry Race Cars that Paul had his first close encounter with the venomous beast. He had always admired the project cars down at Graham Berry’s, and never failed to find excuses to make a visit. One day there it was, an AC Cobra in all its glory. The passion was rekindled once again. At that time it wasn’t financially feasible to build a new car up to the specification Paul wanted, and so he focused his efforts on finding a second-hand Cobra with the necessary specifications.
“When you first lay eyes on this Cobra you can’t help but notice the gigantic wheels under the guards”
The discovery was made on TradeMe three years later. A blue, white-striped 1965 AC Cobra 427 SC Replica. Paul had found just what he was looking for. Wasting no time, he was down in Christchurch to pick his new toy up and drive it up to Picton within two days,
The Cobra was exactly what he wanted, and in fantastic condition. It had been built by an aeronautical engineer based in Christchurch and was a perfect base for what he wanted to do. I’m sure you can imagine how Paul felt as his Cobra was driven into view. He explains the feeling as “surreal”, and remembers being speechless as he stared wide-eyed at what would soon be his. It was “difficult to fathom” that what once was a dream had now become a reality, and his words sum it up perfectly: “It’s finally mine!”
Let the creative juices flow
This Cobra was destined to be something truly spectacular. Creating a Cobra that is contemporary yet still complements its ’60s design is no easy feat.
“Completing the rebuild is the easy part,” Paul says, his confidence due to his mechanical trade background. It took Paul over 12 months to turn the concept into reality. It was clear from the beginning that this Cobra was to be unique, with a combination of performance, show and usability all rolled into one. As evidenced by the final product, I think we can all agree that he has well and truly achieved his goal.
For 12 months the car remained in its original form, and countless hours were spent scouring the internet. “Thank god for broadband!” Paul exclaims as he recalls the long Google search. Component by component, he went through the meticulous process of identifying and filtering concepts to produce the final build plan. By the time the build phase of the project started, he already had a clear image of the final product in his mind.
The objective for the car was to create something unique that still retained the old ’60s appeal of the classic design originating from the AC Ace. Standing back and admiring the form of the car it’s easy to see the themes of the old flowing through. The car’s front and rear bumpers have been removed to accentuate the curvaceous styling of the Cobra, while chrome has been used to help reinforce the classic feel of the design without going overboard. On the flipside, the black and silver colour combination, Momo accessories and rather substantial wheels give the car a very sleek modern look. This really is a perfect blend of contemporary and classic, appealing to aficionados of any car era.
Size Does Matter
I’m sure most people agree with me when I say wheels can make or break the look of a car. When you first lay eyes on this Cobra you can’t help but notice the gigantic wheels under the guards. The fronts measure 20 by nine inches, and are shod in 245/35R20 Hankook Ventus Sport K104 tyres, while the tail of this snake rests on 20 by 10.5-inch wheels wrapped in 285/35R20 tyres of the same brand. Yes, that’s right, this Cobra is sporting 20-inch DTM wheels.
Of all the build, the choice of wheels was the hardest decision to make, especially with the lack of examples to follow. There are Cobras with 17s, there are Cobras with 18s, but when was the last time you saw 20-inch wheels on a Cobra? To be totally honest, my first impression was that they were too large, and even Paul briefly had such thoughts. Thankfully, seeing the wheels out on the street quickly dispelled those sinful thoughts and, looking back, the factory wheels now appear to be woefully inadequate. I commend this brave choice, which are most certainly the baboon’s arse (in a good way) of the car.