THE LEGEND OF THE SUPERFORMANCE MK III A Review by Ronnie Kruger
(ed: Ronnie Kruger was the CEO of Superformance from 2000-2005) www.superformance.org/supernews
In the early 1980's Jim Price became financially involved in a small fibreglass shop near
Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where a friend was constructing replica MG's on VW Beetle chassis. When a relatively large order went bottoms up as a result of sanctions being introduced in the US against trade with South Africa, the business was over-extended and JIM overnight became owner of his own 30,000 square feet replica auto fabrication shop.
He was not particularly interested in continuing the production of MG replicas, but he thought that the Cobra replica kit that his erstwhile partner had imported and was stored in the shop, could be an interesting project to pursue.
Although he had never seen a real live Cobra replica or a REAL Cobra in the flesh, he had read about them and had an idea that IF he could make the kit work, he may have a product that was exportable to interested world markets.
He made enquiries and established that the kit had been acquired from Contemporary in North America. He learned that the Contemporary body had been splashed from a real Cobra 427, which convinced him that he had something to start with.
He bought every book ever written about the Shelby Cobra and the then rapidly growing Cobra kit business in the US and the UK, and learnt that although the replica kits being produced by a dozen or so manufacturers worldwide all purported to be true facsimiles of Carroll Shelby's original 427, no two kits looked exactly the same, nor were they absolutely faithful reproductions of the original.
When the Contemporary body was placed on a measuring table, he found the front fenders and headlight surrounds assymmetrical. This led him to believe that the original body the Contemporary had been splashed from, had been in an accident and had been poorly repaired - especially when he found that the right and left door openings differed in width.
He also established that the rear fenders were the more desirable and correct S/C versions, which he found visually pleasing and left it intact. Jim thought that the slightly protruding "Roman nose" or top part of the large front air intake was visually too prominent, and shortened it so that the oval was perfectly flat.
A lot of effort was expended getting the interior as close as possible to the original, to the point of visiting the former Smiths instrument factory in England and finding the original tooling to replicate the original gauges, finding a source for the original switches and even the original turn light indicator (1963 VW beetle) The windscreen frame, down to the original maker's name tag was also replicated, as were the side screens and soft top
The chassis, which had been designed to take a used Jaguar suspension, was abandoned for a simple but very robust rectangular frame which would take a purpose designed suspension which, in turn, was designed using the Ford Thunderbird differential and brakes as the USA was always the target market and spares would be easier to source.
This basic design, although in Jim's opinion a bit "agricultural", has stood the test of time and has proved to be absolutely trouble free. After all, the strength had to be in the chassis as the body is simply a passenger shell and windcheater bonded to the chassis, which has to be able to handle 600 hp and more.
In the late 1990's Jim considered replacing the chassis with an original AC frame and suspension, but the SPF dealers convinced him that it would be a retrogressive step as the Mk III was a far better handling vehicle than the original, both on the street and on the track. Over the years there have been many refinements to the original concept, but although the original Superformance Mk III may have been conceived as an offspring of the Contemporary, there is no doubt that the SPF Mk III - the only Cobra replica that is endorsed by maestro Carroll Shelby himself - is indeed the fruit of the fertile and perfectionist brain of Jim Price of Hi-Tech Automotive in South Africa.
rsk: 01.02.2011 ref: SPFMkIIIdoc
2/15/11 - THE BACKGROUND OF THE CONTEMPORARY... A Recap by Randall Thomas
(ed: Randall compiled this from info in part by Brian Sundue & from an interview with Peter Bayer by Jeff Gagnon in 2009, and from additional information from Jeff Gagnon in February 2011)
Contemporary Classic Motor Car Company was started in 1978, and founder Peter Bayer devoted all his time into the company from 1983 to 1996 before it was later sold to the Burtis family who eventually closed the business in 1999. In the 1970's Peter used his own original Shelby Cobra, chassis number CSX-3045 as the "master form" to splash the fiberglass mold for the Contemporary Cobra Replica. The first bodies were pulled from the first and second series of molds in the last three months of 1981. Then the final refined third series molds were put into production in latter part of 1983.
Like the original CSX 427 cars, the series 1 and 2 molds had a drooped right rear fender. This was corrected on the plug used to create the final series 3 molds in 1983. The front and rear wheel openings are slightly smaller than the originals so that the lower profile tires in production at that time (vs. the taller original tires) looked correct in the wheel wells. The rocker panels were extended downward to cover the outer frame rails. The parking light mounts were given a raised/flat mounting surface so that the lights sat straight. Finally, the front blinker mounts had a rise which was not original, in the respect of designer liberty.
The following link is the original sales brochure from Contemporary Motorcars backing up the claim to the CSX-3045 origin as stated by Peter Bayer. >>> CLICK HERE TO VIEW .PDF BROCHURE <<<
2/16/11 - THE BACKGROUND OF CSX 3045... A Follow up by Randall Thomas
(ed: Randall compiled this from the info in part of of an RM Auctions listing with info applied from the SAAC registry)
CSX # 3045 is a well known and fully documented S/C, and is pictured three times in the Shelby American World Registry. CSX 3045 was invoiced to Shelby American on February 23, 1965 and completed to S/C specification under Work Order #15103. On April 21, 1966, Shelby American received an order for an S/C model including a request to install a modified race exhaust system to be delivered to the customer, Mr. Hall, on May 31st. Likely "Mr. Hall" did not actually take delivery or kept the Cobra on its MSO since the next recorded owner, Peter Bayer, acquired # 3045 as payment for promotional work done on behalf of dealer Larsen Ford of White Plains, NY and was the first to register this car in 1967. Doug Carsen of Rimersburg, PA who is believed to have raced this particular S/C in several SCCA events, became the next owner.
In the mid-1970s, John Parlante of Whitestone, NY began some restoration work prior to passing the S/C to Geoff Howard in 1978 who completed the work including the Guardsman Blue paint scheme. By 1979 it was offered for sale with 10,400 miles: "Fresh restoration, all competition options, polished Halibrands - expensive!" Well known historic and Cobra collector Jere Clark of Phoenix, AZ bought the car, installed Arizona plate "427 S/C" and went vintage racing.
At SAAC-5 in Dearborn, Michigan, # 3045 won first place in the Competition Shelby Popular vote category, after which Dick Smith gave a white-knuckled Rick Kopec an on-track demo-drive at 185 mph! In the spring of 1983 the car was sold to European Coachworks and then on to Cobra aficionado George Stauffer of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin who advertised it as "A real S/C, has run at Laguna Seca several times and ready to win more historic races. Guardsman Blue, fuel cell, not for the timid".
Bob Jordan of Investment Motorsports bought the S/C before passing it, in 1986, to Carl Schwartz of Grand Blanc, MI. For the next eight years, beginning in 1988, # 3045 resided in the famous John Mozart Collection where it was subjected to a full restoration carried out to his impeccably high standards. It was contracted to Mike Giddings of Robin Automotive in Northern California who refurbished the suspension, braking systems, rear end and transmission as well as doing all of the final assembly and detailing. The original engine was rebuilt and dyno'd by Elgin Cams and Tech Craft, with the paint work handled by Scott Veazie Restoration Services of Los Angeles, CA.
In December of 1994 the owner assigned Cobra expert Dave Dralle of Redondo Beach, CA to carry out an inspection prior to his purchase of the car from John Mozart in early 1995. Although the car was then, as it is now, in show condition, much post-purchase detail work as well as meticulous servicing was carried out by both Cobra Restorers Ltd. (GA) and Conover Racing & Restoration Inc. (PA) during the next decade. A dossier of invoicing for this work, totaling $23,013 accompanied the sale of the car.
This proved to be money well spent as # 3045 won a Gold at the 1998 SAAC Convention in Charlotte, NC plus Best Cobra & Best Comp Cobra at SAAC Ann Arbor, MI in 1999 in addition to many regional SAAC Show First Place Awards. Only 30 Shelby 427 Semi-Comp Cobras were built. Below is CSX 3045...