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SAAC: So, the kit Cobra was your

next project?

BURGY: I kept talking to ERA about

building a 289 FIA car but they

weren’t doing one. Nobody was except

Pacific Coast Cobra. I remember try-

ing to call them but they never an-

swered their phone. Finally, one day I

called and somebody did answer it. I

said, “

I’m interested in your 289 Cobra

kit car I’ve seen in Kit Car magazine.

The guy said, “

I’m from the sheriff’s of-

fice and we’re cleaning this place out

right now. If you want anything you

better get out here quick.

” A guy in

Illinois ended up getting their molds –

I think his name was Randy Berry. He

was doing Marauder cars and a couple

of other replicas, but I could never get

him to start making FIA bodies. I went

to Carlisle’s kit car meet several times

and Run ‘N Gun several times and I

ended up ordering a 427 car from ERA

with the idea of having my body guy

chop it all up and put a 289 grille in it

and modify the flares. At that time, the

wait time was about a year. Six

months later Peter Portante called me

and said, “

We cancelled your order.

You what?

” He said, “

Fran Kress

wants us to do an FIA car and you

want us to do one and there are

enough guys who want them now that

we’re going to do the FIA car. I figured

you’d be pretty pissed if you bought

the 427 car and we came out with an

FIA car six months later.”

So I got the

very first ERA FIA. It was actually a

prototype car. I went to ERA in Con-

necticut three times to take a look at

it. One time was when Howard was re-

tiring from the Coast Guard and there

was a big party for him. It was good

that I went to ERA to check it out be-

cause I was going to put that 351

Cleveland in it, which they had never

done before, so we had to do some

frame modifications. I got that car to-

gether and started taking it to conven-

tions and having some fun with it. I

had planned to open track it and au-

tocross it because I used to autocross

my first GT350, at Nelson Ledges and

a bunch of parking lot autocrosses. But

by the time I got the car done my leg

was so bad that I could drive the car,

but that was about it. [

Note: as a child,

Burgy suffered from polio, an infec-

tious disease caused by a virus which

resulted in muscle weakness, most

often in the legs. Decades after recov-

ery, between 25% and 50% of individ-

uals who have



childhood polio can develop post-polio

syndrome, which is a slow develop-

ment of muscle weakness similar to

the initial infection and fatigue. Burgy

is now suffering from muscle weak-

ness in his right leg

.] At SAAC-29 at

MIS in 2004, on the open track, I

passed everything in front of me and

then spun it. I blamed it on the fresh

tires I had on the car [


]. Luckily,

the guy behind me was paying atten-

tion and didn’t run into to me. I got the

car back on the track and then decided

that was about enough of open track

events for me. Earlier in the day I had

taken my wife, Claudia, out with me

and we sat in the staging area for

what seemed like forever, waiting and

waiting, and wondering what the hold-

up was. When we made our first lap

we discovered what the waiting was

for. That’s when we saw Barry Smith’s

aluminum Cobra replica was in the

wall. It was about half the size it used

to be. When Claudia saw that, she

said, “

Take me in. TAKE ME IN! I’ve

had enough.

” The combination of that

and my spin the next time I went out

was enough to convince me to hang it


SAAC: You’ve had a lot of experience

with owning cars early-on. You’ve cer-

tainly owned more cars and had more

experiences with them than today’s

average member.

BURGY: I’ve had a couple of dozen

Mustangs, a lot of them Hi-Po Mus-

tangs. Three GT350s and a GT500 and

two Tigers. I’ve never built an engine

by myself but I’ve taken a lot of cars

apart and pulled the engines out. I

used to do the bodywork on my daily-

driver cars but I wouldn’t do anything

that I was showing. I liked customiz-

ing my cars. In my ERA I put the 351

Cleveland in it and 427-style side

pipes and a different roll bar. The

same guy who did the roll cage in my

Pantera did the rollbar for the ERA.

Actually, he was retired and came

back to the business he had sold and

did the roll bar work to my drawings.

I made drawings and bought convo-

luted plastic tubing that I could shape

to show him how I wanted the side

braces to drop from the rear hinge pil-

lar down the side so I could climb in

and out of the car. It worked out pretty

well. I had another guy polish the

wheels for me. The aluminum wheels

on the Cobra were much tougher to

polish than the magnesium Campag-

nolo wheels on the Pantera. I did the

magnesium wheels myself but I tried

the aluminum wheels but just couldn’t

get them to shine. I finally ran into

someone who had the right equipment

to polish the aluminum wheels and

they came out nice.

SAAC: When you were working at

Ford you were probably able to meet a

lot of other car guys. We’re guessing


Fall 2016 57

A 289 Hi-Po Comet Caliente occupied a spot in Burgy’s driveway for a time. Like the

rest of his cars, it didn’t stay stock for long, acquiring a a very rare (for 1965) twin-scoop

fiberglass Cyclone hood and then grew Guardsman Blue LeMans stripes. Wheels were

14-inch Shelby ten spokes.