Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Royal Cobra

To all who visit and read the words written here: Greetings, and welcome to the Royal Cobra.

Before I start, a big "thank you" to my son and to my best girl - my wife, Susan - for all the help, understanding, and support they give me. Thanks Matt; this is going to be fun. Thank you sweetheart.

So. What is the Royal Cobra all about? Its "Takhli", or "King Cobra" as spoken in the Tai language, and pronounced "talk-lee."

Why call the blog takhli? The name comes from an Air Base in Tailand - Takhli RTAFB - used by the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. We flew F-105Ds and Gs out of Takhli, and a very close friend of mine was stationed there. He was and still is a great influence in my life. More on my friend later, perhaps.

For now, there are other reasons for the blog's name: It's about a car. The car in the photo. And if you're intuitive you'll know that the car is a Cobra. More exactly, a replica of the famous Le Mans winning Daytona Coupe. Takhli will be built from a Factory Five Racing Type 65 Coupe kit - their replica of six purely race-bred original cars designed by Pete Brock in the early sixties, to combat Ferrari.

A replica is good. Because if you're at all into cars, you may know also that any of the original cars bearing Carrol Shelby's name are grotesquely over-priced, especially considering their ancient handling qualities as measured against todays performance cars. True; they do hold a very important place in automotive history because in their time, they were the cars to beat, and they raised hell on road racing circuits where ever they raced.

Let's face it - the normal joe can't dream of owning an original. Especially this Joe and more especially, any of the six original coupes. One of the six is said to be the most valuable car in private ownership, in the United States - I think the figure is around $1.6 million. There are less expensive "continuations" of the type built by Superformance in collaboration with Pete Brock but still, far out of my budget.

If the everyday enthusist wants to own a Daytona Coupe, it must almost certainly be an owner-built replica, if anything. To wet the appetite, a few specifications for Takhli follow:

  • The goal for vehicle weight is approximately 2500 pounds, and I think that's high.

  • Power is in keeping with the originals; a small block Windsor Ford of 332 cubic inch displacement and about 425 horsepower.

  • 95 inch wheel base; shorter than a "Vette", longer than a Porsche SC.

  • Six-speed Tremec T56 transmission, fully independent rear susspension, four-wheel disk-brakes.

I'm hoping to order the kit by Christmas but the engine and drive train are well under way. More on that part of the build next time.