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Fall 2016 4



We have to park here for about an

hour while the batteries get charged.

You know, Billy, it wasn’t that long ago

that we used something other than

electricity to power cars. This was

back before you were born. It was a

liquid called gasoline and it was re-

fined from decomposed fossil deposits

found thousands of feet underground.

Over millions of years they liquified

and had to be pumped to the surface.

Then the liquid, called “crude oil,” was

shipped to large petroleum refining

centers, sometimes in giant oil tankers

a couple of football fields long.

It came out as gasoline, a highly

toxic, flammable and combustible

clear liquid that had to be stored

below the ground in large holding

tanks at “gas stations” which were in

every neighborhood – sometimes one

on each corner of the same intersec-

tion. All cars had fifteen or twenty-

five-gallon “gas tanks” that had to be

filled from gas pumps at these gas sta-

tions about once a week. And gasoline

wasn’t cheap. It was about $20 a gal-

lon and you could only go about 40

miles on each gallon of gas


If it was so dangerous, Dad, how

did they keep it from exploding or

catching fire while it was being

pumped into cars?

Believe it or not, fires at gas sta-

tions were pretty rare. People were

usually pretty careful and they didn’t

allow smoking near gas pumps


weighed about 450 pounds and put out

a little over 300 horsepower.

“What’s the electric motor in our

Cobra weigh?”

“It only weighs about 35 pounds,

so to go just as fast as the car origi-

nally went in the 1960s it only needs

to produce about 50 horsepower.

That’s about the same as our new leaf-


“Where does the electricity that

powers our Cobra come from? I know

that one end is the power cord that we

plug into the car to recharge it. What’s

on the other end?

“Large electric generating compa-

nies produce the power by burning

coal or natural gas and converting it

into electricity, Billy. It flows through

overhead wires and provides lights for

houses and electricity to charge bat-

teries. The batteries in the Cobra are

a brand new technology. The Cobra

takes four of them and each one

weighs about 5 pounds. They charge

up in about an hour and will provide

power for the car to go about 400 miles

before they need to be charged again.

And they never need to be replaced.”

“Don’t those power companies that

burn coal and natural gas emit pollu-

tants into the air just like the old gaso-

line engine?”

“Hey! Lookee here. What do you

know? We’re charged up already. Hop

in, Billy. Let’s go get an ice cream


Jim Sfetko photo.

What’s ‘smoking,’ Dad?

Oh, you wouldn’t understand,

Billy. A long time ago people used to

poison themselves by inhaling smoke

from burning leaves. Anyway, once in

a while a car would crash and the gas

tank would rupture and explode in a

huge fireball, but this happened

mostly in movies and on television


What happened to all those cars

that needed gasoline to run, Dad?

Well, Billy, the government out-

lawed them because they caused air

pollution. They were replaced with

cars powered by electricity and compa-

nies made retro-fit electric motors that

could replace gasoline engines in cars.

Like our Cobra, here. The old engine

In the last issue we provided an example of

how Cobra history is being diluted by inaccu-

racies printed in nonauthorative places which

are accepted as fact by those who don’t know

any better. Jay Talbott provided another ex-

ample: one of those Internet “click-bait” time-

wasters that provide a series of mildly

interesting nostalgic photos. This one was, “


things only ‘60s kids will understand

,” and it

showed images from the 1960s that someone

born after that time would have no knowledge

of. A 427 Cobra S/C was a car enthusiasts

swooned over – except the picture they

showed was a Cooper-Monaco “King Cobra.”


If you were a car enthusiast you swooned over this powerhouse on wheels.

20 Things Only ‘60s Kids Will Understand