I’ve driven Cobra replicas that wore primer only. I’ve ridden in a brushed-aluminum with polished-aluminum Le Mans-striped Kirkham Cobra replica. I’ve driven a silver FFR and 289 Unique Motorcars Cobra, a yellow Factory Five Racing Mk3, an FFR still clad in Gel Coat, a black-overred Backdraft Racing Roadster, and so on. Despite the rainbow of hues, or lack thereof, my single favorite Cobra color dates to the mid 1960s. That’s when Ford sprayed some Cobras and some Ford Mustangs in the heavenly hue of Caspian Blue.
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Dad and I contemplated for several months what color(s) our roadster should be. For the longest time, he lobbied to have our FFR Mk4 Cobra roadster replica in a racy shade of red. Cobras do look wonderful in red, but knowing the history of those racing Cobras of the early through the mid 1960s, I did not want our roadster to be red. The Cobra’s biggest rival has always been Ferrari. When these two foes battled, the Ferraris were red, and the Cobras were always white over blue.
During my tenure as editor of Kit Car magazine, I may have photographed more white-over-blue Cobra replicas than any other man in history. But our car just couldn’t be white over blue any more than it could be Ferrari red or any shade of red.
We agreed upon a midnight blue color. As silly as it sounds now, we were actually going to have a onecolor Cobra replica. We came to realize that we wouldn’t quite be honoring the Snake. The majority of original Cobras wore Le Mans racing stripes. A few months elapsed as we were toiling away at our FFR Mk4 in our home shop. Then we finally decided to also have the team stripes on the driver-side fender. Not too long thereafter, we gave two thumbs up to those delightful Le Mans over-the-top stripes in a sort of titanium color.
We wanted House of Kolor paint on our FFR Mk4 roadster, which was a no-brainer. The tough part of our decision was trying to find a reliable, professional, and reasonable body and paint shop to bring our House of Kolor Cobra to life.
We know now that the best way to find a top-notch shop would have been to contact House of Kolor and ask for painter recommendations that use its products in the area, and then go talk to them. Whether you’re using House of Kolor products or some other manufacturer’s painting finishes, contact an expert at the company and seek professional painter references in your area, either via the paint company’s Web site or on the old-fashioned telephone.
Make sure that you follow up on any body/paint referrals you get from your paint supplier. And when you negotiate a body and paint project with potential shops, get detailed written estimates. You are also well served by talking to customers of the shops that you’re investigating to see how pleased they are with the outcome on their body and paint projects.
Another way to get body/paint referrals is by talking to members of your favorite car clubs and car-buff buddies. The point is: complete your homework on this all-important aspect of your Cobra project.
Project 1: Fitment Procedure
Step 1: Install Passenger’s Door
Pro-painter and bodywork maestro Ray commenced fitting the doors. We located the door fasteners and hung the doors for Ray. Starting at the top, Ray adjusted the fasteners attached to the hinges in their slots to align the panel surfaces with the body. He proceeded to work with the passenger-side door hinge to get the door to hang right and to get the gap as even as possible before adding any sort of filler (if needed).
Step 2: Drill Hole to Rivet Body to Chassis
After the top of the door panel is in alignment with the body, the bottom of the body can be moved in and out a bit to assist in achieving the best fit between the bottom edge of the door and body. After Ray found the desired alignment, he used a couple of long 3/16-inch rivets to attach the bottom lip of the body with the chassis. Of course, he first needed to drill a couple 3/16-inch holes in the body lip/chassis to rivet the two together, shown here on the driver’s side of the car.
Project 2: Door Latch and Hardware Installation
Step 1: Install Door Latches
To get the doors to fit inside the door jams properly with an even 3/16-inch gap all the way around, the door latches needed to be installed. Find the door components and the door latch assemblies. Use a 1/2-inch wrench, a 1/8-inch drill bit, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a Sharpie, and lithium or silicone grease. First remove the original mounting bracket from the door latch striker. Only the striker and the washers are used. The mounting bracket and the nut aren’t used, so you can save them for your next project.
Step 2: Install Door Latches
Use the right amount of shims (washers) to bolt the striker onto the chassis. This is done to bring the base of the striker head flush with the door latch pad when the door is closed. Because the next step is to latch the door latch onto the striker and close the door, this is already shown in this photo. After latching the door latch onto the striker and adjusting the striker to fit the latch to the driver-side-door cutout, Ray was almost ready to mark where the holes need to be drilled into the door latch pad to install the door latch. If needed, you can use the FFR-supplied door latch spacers to assist with the alignment of the door latch to the striker. To prevent binding between the door latch and striker, use some lithium or silicone grease on the moving parts.
Step 3: Install Door Latches (Continued)
With the doors marked, use a 1/8-inch drill bit to bore the bolt holes to install the driver-side door latch. The holes all drilled, install the driver-side door latch. Repeat this same process for the passenger side.
Step 4: Install Pipe Spacer
Rather than use several shims to properly space out the driver- and passenger-side strikers to align with the door latch, Ray cut off the correct width and diameter of stainless-steel pipe to serve as spacer sleeves. After cutting, he installed the driver-side spacer.
Step 5: Install Trunk Lid
Find the fasteners that hold the decklid (trunk lid) on the FFR Mk4’s hidden hinges and install the lid. Just snug these bolts and locknuts for now. Leave the fasteners loose enough so that you can adjust how the lid fits the gap in the back of the body. To hold the lid’s surfaces level with the back of the body, you can temporarily use some of the rubber bumpers that are supplied for proper fitment of the hood.
Step 6: Install Trunk Lid
Step 7: Construct Template for Patch Panel
Step 8: Make Template and Fit Aluminum Panel
Step 9: Make Template and Fit Aluminum Panel
Step 10: Install Aluminum Patch Panel
Step 11: Drill Holes for License Plate
Step 12: Mark License Plate Light Holes
Step 13: Drill License Plate Holes
Step 14: Install License Plate Light
Step 15: Fit Trunk Latch Components
Step 16: Install Trunk Latch Handle
Step 17: Install Trunk Latch Pin
Step 18: Install Hood Hinges and Fasteners
Step 19: Mount Hinge Arms
Step 20: Install Hood Hinge Pivot Mounts
Step 21: Install Passenger-Side Hinge
Project 3: Eliminate Mold Line and Trim Body Panels
Step 1: Apply Mar-Glass to Mold Seams
Step 2: Sand Away Mold Seams
Step 3: Set Hood Gap
Step 4: Mark Hood for Trimming
Step 5: Trim Passenger’s Side of Hood
Step 6: Determine Location for Driver-Side Hood Handle
Step 7: Drill Hole for Driver-Side Hood Handle
Step 8: Enlarge Driver-Side Hood Handle Hole
Step 9: Install Hood Handle Paddle
Step 10: Mark and Drill Holes for Fuel Filler Cap
Step 11: Apply Mar-Glass to Side of Hood Sides
Step 12: Trim Hood and Hood Sides
Project 4: Hood Scoop Installation
Step 1: Cut Out Hood Scoop Hole
Step 2: Cut Out Hood Scoop Hole
Step 3: Smooth Hole for Hood Scoop
Step 4: Apply Mar-Glass to Cut Edge
Step 5: Make Cut Line for Hood Scoop
Step 6: Drill Rivet Holes
Step 7: Sand Bottom of Hood Scoop Flange
Step 8: Trim Hood Scoop Flange
Step 9: Drill Rivet Holes in Hood
Project 5: Primer Application
Step 1: Sand Body of Car
Step 2: Apply Sanding Primer
Step 3: Apply Seal Primer
Project 6: Complete Footbox
Step 1: Modify Pedal Box Roof
Step 2: Install Insulation on Pedal Box Ceiling
Project 7: Painting Procedure
Step 1: Wipe On Post Sanding Cleaner
Step 2: Use Compressed Air to Blow Off Dust
Step 3: Select and Mix Paint
Step 4: Apply Base Coat of Paint
Step 5: Apply Base Coat of Paint (Continued)
Step 6: Mix Clear Coat for Application
Step 7: Apply Clear Coat
Step 8: Tape for LeMans Stripes
Step 9: Apply LeMans Strips
Step 10: Apply Clear Coat Again
Step 11: Buff Paint to Finish
Written by D. Brian Smith and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks