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Shelby's lawsuit against Cobra replicas

andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382
edited March 2014 in Ford
against Factory Five a Massachusetts builder of replica Cobras and kit cars. The court ruled that Factory Five could not use any Shelby or Cobra logos on their cars or in their advertising.
Factory Five claimed it had not done so for some time and that Shelby had failed to convince the court that he owned the actual shape of the Cobra.
You can find more information in Peter DeLorenzo's rant in the Feb. 27th issue of www.autoextremeist.com
Do you think Shelby is being greedy here or does he have a legitimate ownership to protect?

2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93


  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    There is extensive info on the Cobra forums. (of course)

    Shelby wanted to have Factory Five destroy their molds for the Roadster (Cobra). Along with not using the name Cobra (which is owned by Ford, NOT Shelby) on their cars or in their advertising. FF has not done this for several years. He also wanted to have every owner of a Cobra replica pay him $10,000.

    Basically, the court said, "you cannot use the name Cobra". So, it is business as usually for FF. Shelby went home with nothing. Hardly a win.

    Shelby also has the exact same suit filed against Superformance. FF is the largest maker of kits and Superformance is the largest maker of "turn key minus" cars. (Complete car without engine and tranny) He was trying to cover his bases here. Interesting thing here is the same judge will be hearing the Superformance case.

    Here is MHO - Shelby did NOT design the Cobra. The body and chassis are from AC cars. He simply modified them. Mainly by putting in a different engine. That hardly makes it "his" design. (Steve Saleen does not claim to own the Mustang)

    Some 30 years later Shelby is producing his own kit cars. He tries to pass them off as originals and charge accordingly. They cant be originals, they are NOT made by AC. Information I have seen, says that he molded his new body from a replica body. He was also caught saying that he found original frames in a wherehouse and trying to sell those cars for BIG $$$. It was a scam. He built them and left them outside to rust to look old. AC published an official statement that there were NO unaccounted for frames. His history is that of shady deals and scams, always has been. When he was trying to promote the Cobra idea, he only had one car. He painted it different colors several times to make it appear that they were in production.

    Bottom line. He is building Cobra replicas (using Nevada state prison labor at that) and is simply trying to wipe out the competition. He has also slapped the people that idolized him right in the face. Pure greed.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    Some corrections if I may.

    AC was done supplying frames after the 289.The 427 chassis was a tube frame, coil over(replacing the leaf spring) built in house. I've heard the stories of the "rusted frames"
    Could be true but I believe there were only 5 of them(and that they had 1960's VIN's) and the asking price was a cool 500,000.

    There are currently 2 Shelby replicas. One is fiberglass and one is hand formed aluminum(like the original)

    My original understanding of the 10K surcharge was that it was to go to heart disease research and that Shelby would pocket nothing.

    My buddy was building the Series 1 out at the race track, I was able to hang out quite a bit during mid-shift.....had a great time!!
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    Actually, the 427 frame was designed by Ford. The 427 frames were built by AC cars in Bristol, England (as were the 289s). A full "roller" was then shipped to Shelby where he installed the engine and delivery prep was done.

    AC cars built ALL of the original frames, 289 and 427.

    The "lost" frames deal was a sham. There were 60s VIN numbers left over (Cobras did not really sell all that well), but there were no frames. Clifornia issued a series of VINs to be used. AC cars issued an official statement citing this fact. Shelby claimed that this warehouse had all of the parts to build Cobras. This included the side oiler 427. If it was a fact that these 427s were sitting around since the 60s, then why did he put 428s is some of the "427 Cobras"? The buyers were not told either! The reason was, there was a shortage of 427 side oilers.

    Yes, Shelby is producing replicas (Fglass & Al bodies) but is calling them a "genuine Cobra". Yes, he is licensed by Ford to do so. And there are quite a few replica makers out there. Kirkham also does Aluminum.

    As far as the 10K surcharge, on somebody elses product, PUHLEESE. And his charity has been investigated for shady dealings before. I believe the $500,000 "original" frame cars were part of this.

    I love the cars. I just don't love what CS has been doing lately. (And come to think of it, he's been doing it all along)

    I honestly think a major reason the suit was filed is that Shelby discovered that there is more of a market for Cobra replicas than for the Series One.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    I just dug up my favorite book, "SHELBY'S WILDLIFE" and it stated the 427, "was the first truly Shelby-designed Cobra"

    It goes on to say CSX3001 was built in England. So I assumed that the rest were built by Shelby, even though it doesn't say one way or the other.

    I see your point on the old chicken farmer. Whether it's greed or his advisors misleading him, I don't know.

    I'm just glad he came up with the original concept.
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    I agree. The whole Cobra concept was incredable. Also the Daytona coupe and the Shelby Mustangs were great. If you stick to the cars, Carrol Shelby is awsome. (The business side is ugly though)

    I was riding in an FFR Roadster (Cobra replica - no association with Carrol Shelby, Shelby American Inc, Ford Motor Company, blah blah blah) on Saturday. I don't think the smile is off of my face yet. What a truly awsome and exceedingly FUN car, especially with the modern technology included.

    Thanks Carrol for starting this.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    These replicas...are we talking about a Pontiac Fiero with a Cobra body, or a car mechanically identical to the original?
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382
    almost all have fiberglass body work that copies the 427 Cobra (especially the SC a kind of street/race variation of the 427 snake). Most ride on tube frame chassis designed by the kit car maker, these are patterned more or less on the original chassis but often employ strengthening and some reinforcements to improve stiffness etc. Jaguar rear suspensions and diffs are usually employed. Engines are chosen by the buyer with Ford or Chevy blocs favored. It is possible to buy a brand new 427 cid "side-oiler" like the ones in the fastest of the original big block cars. I have seen kit-Cobras so well done that you can't tell they aren't original without looking up the VIN or sitting on the fender (which might be enough to dent an original Al body). I have also seen lash-ups
    with tan upholstery, in-dash air-con and stereo
    that you could tell were fakes a mile away. As you might guess the number of replicas so far outnumbers the original that it's better to assume you're looking at a replica.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Fiero based Cobra? Fieros are popular platforms for Lambo and Ferrari replicas but I don't think it would work at all as the basis for a Cobra or any other open top car. I did see a Cobra replica kit based on a C4 Corvette chassis. Obviously, the dimensions were not correct.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    Pure and simple. he took a lovely car bult by AC (modeled directly after the Ferraris of the period, by the way), shoehorned a V8 into it and created an instant classic. He deserves no credit for the styling or the concept -- Americans were doing engine transplants long before the Cobra. That the execution worked out well is credit to his team, and for that he deserves our thanks. But in terms of Cobra replicas, HE is the Johnny-come-lately, not the kit builders who have put their asses on the line for 40 years. And his new Cobra is just another bad joke. That thing is butt ugly, and how many cars has he actually delivered since relieving prospective customers of their deposits?

    Oh yeah -- how does everybody feel about his selling the Cobra name to Ford so they could slap it on Mustang IIs? The man has no class and no ethics. A real, honest-to-God jerk.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382
    Badtoy, I believe 'ol Shel is taking some well-deserved hits for these stupid lawsuits but let's have a little respect for the good things that Carrol Shelby has done.
    He's one of an almost mythical group of Americans who went to Europe in the fifties and went toe to toe with the best in sports cars and F1. You can't get a Yanks to do that anymore. They're all Indy Cars and (ugh) NASCAR. I think Shelby was the first American to drive a LeMans winner (co-drove Aston-Martin DB?, 1959 w. Ray Salvadori).
    It's true that putting a V8 in a European sports car was nothing new but putting one into the lightweight AC was brilliant and created an exceptionally fast, competitive car.
    Let's not forget that Shelby (and his team) was instrumental in the success of the Ford GT-40.
    For sure he's a bit of a huckster and grandstander but he's also got some real achievements under his belt and we shouldn't forget that.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Not always competitive. Cobras got whipped on some tracks.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382
    Even Porsches get beat sometimes. I'd say FIA GT championships speak for themselves.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, yes, all stars have their bad days.

    What I meant by all that is that the first Cobras needed LOTS of sorting out. It wasn't like Shelby put his first V8 in an AC Ace and suddenly had a great car that won races. It didn't.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, that is called the "auteur" theory in film-making, that the director is responsible for the film. That is certainly one way to judge it, and perhaps quite valid. I myself like to think that many people and many talents make success, and that the auteur theory is more a creation of our media age. The reason I question it is that there are many cases of brilliant team builders who just didn't have the right people, and also less than brilliant ones who just got lucky. The only time I tend to ascribe success to the workings of one man is when the victories span many decades, as with Ferrari. In that case, there's more proof that the man worked with whatever he got, with whatever luck he did or didn't get, and whatever cars he had, and still somehow won most of the time.

    I hope all this isn't too obscure, sorry if it is.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    hadn't sold the rights to Ford to stick on whatever POS they saw fit, sat by while others carried on the tradition of one of American's most loved and respects cars and then jumped back into the game when he thought he could jack maximum value out of those unused Cobra bodies (and then sucked trusting investors into droppping large deposits on a truly ugly and still undelivered car), I'd think the guy was exactly what he wants all of us to think he is -- an American icon. As it is, he's just a fading star trying to cash in on something he and many others did a long, long time ago.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    two of Shelby's contemporaries -- Jim Hall and Dan Gurney -- were much more resourceful and innovative than Shelby ever was, and they have done nothing that I'm aware of to lessen my admiration for them and their contributions to racing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Jim Hall was a bonafide genius, maybe THE most innovative American designed of race cars of all time. He'd certainly get my vote for #1. Right up there with Harry Miller. I don't think of Shelby in that caliber, although he is certainly deserving of praise in certain accomplishments.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,382
    racing in Can-Am or Endurance races you'd never forget it!

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • danf5danf5 Member Posts: 38
    In late summer, 1962, at the Connelsville, PA SCCA regionals, I saw what I think was the first AC Cobra to turn a wheel in anger in the U.S. Driven by Ed Hugus (anyone here remember him?). IIRC, he had a deal with Shelby and AC to assemble Cobras in Pittsburgh. He showed up with his first car late for practice, and was allowed to start his laps after the mixed D, E, F, production race had gone ~ half a lap. He did one slow lap, put the car back on the trailer, and went back to the shop. Overheating. The early Cobra radiator was sized for a 2 liter motor (don't know if they used different rads for Bristol and AC motors), and wasn't up to cooling a 4.25 Ford.

    Saw another 260 the next spring, Sebring weekend IIRC, at the Meadowdale, IL regionals. Street car, the owner drove it over from Milwaukee. Much much slower than the Nickey Chevrolet Sting Ray coupes.

    Later on, of course, with bigger radiators, wider tires, and, yes, a bigger motor, Cobras were much more successful. But not always that much faster than 250 GTOs. Again, I remember a USRRC event at MidOhio, where M. Gammino in a GTO set up to oversteer pressed K. Miles in a 289 very hard until Miles spun artfully, put a front bumper prong into a Ferrari wheel, and ended Mike's race. Miles recovered and won.


  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    The Cobra replica that I was in was by a company called Factory Five Racing. This is NOT a fiberglass body dropped onto a production chassis. (that's what makes "kit car" a bad word)
    It is a full tube chassis (stronger and stiffer than the original), aluminum floor, footboxes, etc. Coil over shocks, Ford 8.8 rear (some have IRS). The big thing is that you have to build it yourself (there are professional builders out there).

    So, over all, with a modern engine, brakes, suspension, a better handling, faster, and more dependable car than the original.

    IMHO - a great looking car with tons of power, great handling, and an unlimited supply of FUN.
    A car you can really drive, or get into trouble with if you don't know how to drive.
  • hdriderhdrider Member Posts: 49
    What do those replicas run ($$$) both as an owner-build unit and as a pro-built unit?

    Also, what are the specs and numbers?
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    or one of the other major mags ran a whole article on Factory Five last summer or early fall. They covered both the roadster and coupe, and they were enchanted with both. I believe a turn-key car runs anywhere from $45-60k, but don't hold me to it.
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    I am researching right now and think that a budget of 25 - 30K will give me a very nice, well handling, and fast Cobra. That is with me building it using a Mustang donor and having the body / paint done professionally to near show quality.

    You can do a budget build under 20K (some guys have).

    I think that Badtoy above is a little high for a turnkey FFR, but on the mark for Superformance and others.

    Go to www.cobraforum.com it is a forum (not by FFR, so you get the good and the bad) for FFR owners and wannabes (like me). The guys there are very nice and helpful. I have met with several of them, helped unload two kits, and been to a BBQ with 4 FFRs there and a two hour ride. All just by making contact on the forum. These guys love their cars. If you are going to build, you couldn't possibly get more help. (security in my book)

    With the research I have done, FFR is by far the most bang for the buck. There are others that are more accurate replicas (ERA and Kirkham 50-90K$), but I feel FFR has made changes to enhance reliability and safety and also take some pressure off the wallet.

    HEY CARROL - "FFR has no association with Cobra, Shelby, Shelby American Inc, or the Ford Motor Company." There - happy now.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    avalanche - For clarification, my post was not directed at you at all. I was referring to the post from Rea98d who said something about a Fiero based Cobra. The reference to the Corvette based Cobra was because that was the only Cobra kit I was aware of that starts with a full chassis from another car. Most, as you noted, start with a full tube frame. I was researching building one myself until I realized that I barely have time to keep up with my oil changes so I went for a less labor intensive toy.
    Maybe when the kids are in college (only 13 more years).
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    Just think you might have a hydrogen fuel cell powered Cobra.

    What's that other toy?
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    I just tinker around on my MR2 turbo when I get a chance. But I get to drive it almost everyday.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    are all alike! =O)
This discussion has been closed.