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Spring 2016 4

Beginning in 2017, small au-

tomakers will be able to legally sell

a maximum of 325 turn-key repli-

cas that resemble the body of a

motor vehicle produced at least 25

years ago. Prior to this, all manu-

facturers had to comply with the

same rules and regulations. This

made it impossible for low-volume

automakers to meet the same fed-

eral laws that major manufactur-

ers were forced to adhere to.

For replica manufacturers who

desired to sell completed cars as

opposed to the parts in kit form

from which they could be built, this

resulted in the replica two-step: a

completed rolling chassis (essen-

tially everything except the en-

gine) was sold to a buyer who

would then contract with another

company to build and install the

engine. The car was considered a

kit car or hot rod by the state

motor vehicle department and

would not have to meet federal

safety mandates. They usually had

to meet emission standards based

on the year of manufacture of the

engine. If it was earlier than 1967,

that effectively meant no stan-


Driving Force

is SEMA’s monthly pub-

lication which reports on the state and

federal and state governmental issues

they are monitoring.


We hate to see someone else’s bad

luck but like any other rubbernecker

who encounters an accident on the

highway, it’s impossible to look away.

Conflagration Consumes Classic

Car...vintage Cobra bursts into flames

in Walmart lot

” was the headline in


Mountain View Voice

. Forrest

Straight of Los Gatos, California re-

ceived the article from a friend who

feared it was his 427 Cobra. Fortu-

nately it wasn’t, but it was hard to

know if she was worried about his car

or the fact that a million bucks just

went up in smoke. He tried his best to

console her. In the article, the car was

reported as a 1965 Shelby Cobra, “


classic speedster that, in top condition,

is valued at around $1 million. Only 150 were produced.

As it turned out, the car was a fiberglass-bodied replica. Far from being

worth a million bucks, it was insured for $50,000. The owner parked it in the

lot and went into the Walmart (another clue it wasn’t an original 427 Cobra)

and when he came out smoke was coming from under the hood. In a classic

What do I do? What do I do?

” panic mode, he opened the hood, thereby allow-

ing more oxygen to feed the fire. Leaving it closed would not have helped, so

you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Without a fire extinguisher

the owner attempted to use a shirt to put out the flames, but they were fed by

gasoline so the only thing he succeeded in doing was to get his eyebrows singed.

The fire department was on the scene in record time. They had no trouble spot-

ting the column of thick black smoke rising from the parking lot, visible from

blocks away. Unfortunately, they were not on the scene fast enough to do more

than smother the flames engulfing the car with flame retardant foam.


Mountain View Voices

’ coverage was typical of the misinformation put

out by a reporter not familiar with Cobras. It’s pretty much what we’ve come

to expect. However, a newspaper article has a megaphone affect and everyone

who reads it, and who is not familiar with Cobras beyond what they may have

seen during a Barrett-Jackson auction or in a photo caption in



zine, become similarly misinformed. The key word missing from the reporting

was “replica,” which would have changed the complexion of the story.