The interior largely determines your driving experience. After all, it’s what you’re in touch with when you drive the car. The seats, carpet, gauges, steering wheel, console, and all the related parts project the personality of the car. While most kit car manufacturers supply a complete interior kit, there’s nothing to stop you from choosing an interior that’s different than the one supplied by the manufacturer.
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In many cases, the Cobra kit car manufacturers provide an interior that appears similar to the original to provide that vintage English roadster/Cobra driving experience. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to outfit your Cobra differently than the manufacturer supplied interior, there’s a whole universe of options. You can select different carpets, racing or performance type seats (need to have low backs, so they don’t extend over the body lines), modern steering wheels, electronics, gauges, and so forth.
For space considerations here, we cannot go into every single combination an owner could select. However, many owners stick with the manufacturer-supplied interior and often that’s a wise choice because mounting the seats, dash, and other components follows the manufacturer’s instructions.
To avoid being redundant, we won’t again describe how the doors, trunk-lid, and hood go on the car.Suffice it to say that we managed to install all the painted panels and get them to fit their respective openings with the right amount of gap all the way around.
What we must talk about, however, is installing the windshield. This crucial step was supposed to take place before the body had been painted. Fortunately for us, putting the windshield in place was not difficult. It’s best to pre-fit the windshield before your Cobra replica has been painted. But, if you don’t, you still should be able to get the glass in without incident.
Project 1: Windshield Installation
Step 1: Install Windshield Stanchions
Using the supplied FFR fasteners, the first step in the windshield’s installation is to install the windscreen’s uprights or stanchions. You need the supplied short Phillips-head screws to attach the uprights. Once you’ve attached the uprights, you and an assistant need to place the stanchions through the stanchion holes on either side of the body. Be careful in sliding the stanchions through the openings, especially if your car has already been painted. The optimum time to fit the windshield is right after you put the body back on the chassis and aligned the body on the chassis with Quickjack bolts. When you’ve successfully placed the stanchions into the openings, the uprights likely bottom out on the chassis tubes. Mark the stanchions to be cut. Cut off the stanchions at a 45-degree angle to get the proper pitch of the windshield to the body. Because the frame has already been drilled to install the stanchions to the frame, carefully trace the installation holes onto the stanchions before removing the windshield.
Step 2: Shorten Windshield Stanchions
After removing the stanchions or windshield sidebars, cut off both stanchions. You can perform this within minutes of pulling the die grinder’s trigger. Using a hacksaw takes at least twice as long.
Step 3: File Cut and Drill Stanchion
Make a clean cut on both stanchions because then it requires just a little touch up with the flat file to make the stanchions install-ready, with the exception of drilling attachment holes. With a 1/2-inch bit, drill the attachment holes that you traced when the stanchions were temporarily in place.
Step 4: Tighten Stanchion Bolts & Nuts
Re-attach the uprights onto the windscreen frame using the aforementioned short Phillips-head screws. Then, use a 3/4-inch wrench, 3/4-inch socket, and ratchet to tighten the fasteners that hold the sidebars to the frame. With the holes successfully drilled, get your companion to help you slide the windshield uprights into their home in the body.
Floor Liner and Carpet
We decided early in the planning stages of our project to equip the car’s interior with sound and heat insulation. The reasons for doing this were pretty obvious. Cobras usually run big and hot V-8 engines that make a great deal of noise and create a fair amount of heat. The powerplants are set far back in the chassis to achieve a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, which enables superlative handling capabilities at high speeds. It also means that the hot, noisy drivetrain is almost in your lap. Indeed, you’re almost surrounded by heat and noise in a Cobra. There is a sidepipe on one flank and an engine/ transmission on your other side.
Dynamat, Fatmat, B-quiet, and others make quality sound deadening mats. Dynamat is a popular aftermarket option and common for restoration builds and many project cars. We decided to equip our roadster with HushMat Ultra, the fastest growing thermal insulation and sound deadening material available for the automotive industry. Every automobile manufacturer in the United States, Mexico, and Canada uses HushMat, so the state-of-theart foil constrained layer-damping technology was installed in our sports car.
Project 2: Floorpan Finishing Procedure
Step 1: Trim and Rivet Sill Panel into Place
Step 2: Apply Silicone to Seal Against Elements
Step 3: Install Floor Liner
Step 4: Trace Cutouts in Trans Tunnel
Step 5: Cut Out Trans Tunnel Top Panel
Step 6: Use Razorblade to Cut Out Shifter Hole
Step 7: Apply HushMat Panel to Trans Tunnel Top
Step 8: Inspect and Clean Floor Liner
Step 9: Mask Off Body Where Needed
Project 3: Interior Carpet Installation
Step 1: Install Carpet on Rear Interior Wall Corners
Step 2; Cut Shifter Hole in Carpet
Step 3: Rivet Transmission Top
Step 4: Trim Passenger-Side Carpet Tunnel Section
Step 5: Install V-Section of Carpet
Step 6: Install Carpet on Footbox Walls and Floor
Step 7: Install Carpet on Doors
The mounting holes for the seats were drilled earlier in the assembly process, but now it’s time to install the seats permanently. For a couple reasons, re-installing the seats is a somewhat difficult proposition. The FFR build manual recommends that you put a wire or something in the holes that you drilled in the floor to bolt down the seats. Since we installed HushMat insulation, we covered those holes long ago. But we did manage to find them.
Project 4: Seat and Restraint System Installation
Step 1: Install Passenger Seat
Step 2: Drill for Lap Harnesses
Step 3: Install Lap Harnesses and Seats
Step 4: Adjust Shoulder Harness Straps
Step 5: Install Driver-Side Straps
Step 6: Install Driver-Side Harnesses
Custom Steering Bezel and Steering Wheel
On many customized vehicles, the steering wheel crowns the dashboard. It is the single coolest element in a first-class interior. The original Moto-Lita wood-rimmed and aluminum tri-spoked steering wheel came standard in the AC Bristol roadster, the 260, 289, and 427SC Shelby AC Cobra roadster, and many other sports and race cars of the 1950s and 1960s. It has a high-performance, yet timeless classic appeal. For this reason alone, we knew right away that we wanted that sort of steering wheel adorning the dashboard and immortalizing the cockpit of our roadster replica.
Several companies, including Andy’s Autosport and Tony D. Branda, offer reproduction Shelby Cobra steering wheels for that authentic look. But there’s nothing to prevent you from a selecting a modern steering wheel from a respected manufacturer, such as Momo, Grant, or NRG. Thankfully for us, this three-spoked wheel comes standard as part of the FFR Mk4 Complete Kit. When the time finally arrived to install this stylish piece, we were as excited as can be.
Project 5: Steering Wheel Installation
Step 1:Inspect Custom Steering Wheel Bezel
Step 2: Install Steering Wheel
Step 3: Install Factory Five Steering Wheel Emblem
Miscellaneous Bits & Baubles
Some people call these dress-up items. They include the mirrors, shift lever, shift boot cover and bezel, and check straps.
Install Hurst Shift Lever & FFR Boot/Bezel
Written by D. Brian Smith and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks