Words: Stuart Johnston Communications
What goes rumpety-rumpety-rumpety, vloo- vlo- vloo- vlooooo Aararrgh!!!? The answer is a Cobra sports car, from idle to cruise mode to full- blooded, open-throttled ecstasy.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Cobra
And on August 24 at 12 noon and again at 1pm you can hear some 80 Cobras shatter the Sunday silence in unison at the Monte Casino Piazza. That’s the open-air square on the South Side of the Randburg casino complex.
“We are having a mass start up at noon and again at one, and that’s going to raised the short hairs on more than a few neck s in the immediate vicinity, “ says Cobra Club of South Africa Vice Chairman Paul de Klerk.
“Of course, the main occasion is our annual Concours d’ Elegance, and we are expecting over 80 cars from our club membership, which is currently 150 strong, under the chairmanship of Juan Venter.”
The organisers stress that the concours is open to non-club members as well as club members, and they are hoping to track down owners new to the club scene who’d like to join in the camaraderie of this vital car club which has one of the biggest memberships on the local car scene.
So, what is all the fuss about Cobras? The cars you will see on Sunday, August 24, are all replicas of the ingenious automotive recipe made famous by the late Carroll Shelby over 50 years ago. The Texan chicken-farmer, who also happened to drive an Aston Martin to victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24-Hour, had the idea of convincing Ford in America to supply him with lightweight V8 engines and AC cars of England to supply him with chassis and bodies for their mildly-powered AC Ace. The resultant Cobra became the fastest car you could buy when Shelby decided to fit seven-litre V8s into the car in 1965, and the rest is history.
Just over 1 000 road-going genuine Cobras were built with aluminium bodies. But since the early 1980s a thriving kit-car industry has developed globally. Only two, or possibly three genuine AC Cobras are known to have been shipped to South Africa, but club member Paul de Klerk says the number of replicas here is approaching 4000.
The first known Cobra replica in South Africa was built in Port Elizabeth by Rich Industries, owned by Richard de Beer, in 1983 and two years later Kit Car Centre’s Rudy Malan started serious production of Cobra replicas, as did Cape Town’s Les Hayden, under his Shamrock banner. Since then various manufacturers have been building them here, and the most famous is the Backdraft Cobra, arguably the best-built Cobra replica of all, which is made in Durban.
Pricing for a fully-built up Backdraft starts at under R400 000 today, making it a very affordable sports car with eyelid-curling V8 power.
The Cobra Club of South Africa’s 2014 Concours d’ Elegance starts at Monte Casino at 8 am and runs until 4 pm on Sunday, August 24. There is no admission charge to see these wonderful cars. Children will be catered for by a high quality race-car simulator a the event.
For more information contact Paul de Klerk on 083 3299 263, or e-mail him on