|Back to the delivery which was now scheduled for Monday
Invincashield moved back to Tuesday and the Wednesday departure date
now with very little time on the car to find any bugs before a 1200
plus mile trip. It was going to be tight and not nearly a comfortable a
buffer as I would have liked but still doable.
Monday morning 9:00 with the car due to be delivered to the dealership at 1:00 PM. Call the niece to tell her my wife and I will be there around 12:30 to talk lunch and see some pickup trucks. We?re contemplating a pickup since my wife?s Z3 and the Cobra won?t really cut it as utility vehicles if we want to bring any groceries home or pick up someone from the airport. My 89 Toyota Supra is getting pretty long in the tooth with 215K miles on it and is due for replacement. Niece still has no idea about the car. Have been dying keeping the secret since arriving on Friday. Niece tells me she?ll be in a meeting until 3:00. Frantic call to Rich who is about one and a half hours out of Denver ? Scrub delivering it at the dealership, deliver it to the niece?s house. Fortunately his son lives in the Denver area so he?s not totally unfamiliar with where this latest of many changes will take him and he promises to call me about an hour out.
.Rich calls about 12:30 to let me know where he is and I give him the turn by turn directions off of the freeway to my nieces house. He?s now about 20 minutes out. Did I mention I have no patience. That last 20 minutes took at least a day and a half. Hear the truck pull up outside. The moment of truth. Keep in mind this is an ERA turnkey and this is the first time I?ll have seen it all in one piece after a 15 month wait.
I greet Rich at the back of the trailer and wait for him to open it up. Feels like another hour and a half but is in fact about 20 seconds.
Rich drops the back door of the trailer and all I see is the back of a T bucket roadster. I?m thinking to myself, uh, Rich, uh, it was supposed to be a Cobra.
I look farther back over the side of the T bucket and there it is. I can breath again. Rich backs the T bucket out and I get my first look.
Even from the rear it has a hugely authoritative look. From the muscular hump of the rear fenders to what looks like three foot wide tires (315/35/17) it seems to say ?Don?t even think about it?. It?s pretty dim inside the trailer so I can?t really appreciate the color on the finished car but it?s a bright sunny day out and I don?t have long to wait. I help Rich take off the tie downs and he mentions that I?m perfectly welcome to back it out myself but most folks like him to do it since it?s pretty close quarters in the trailer. I grudgingly let the tiny part of myself that is rational speak and tell him to go ahead. He climbs carefully into the little red car. I watch him turn the key and flip up the red safety cover over the starter toggle and then hit the switch.
The engine turns over about twice and Joe Lapine?s mastery of things mechanical bellows into life. Have you ever heard a 428 start inside an enclosed trailer? It may have been my imagination but I?d swear the walls bowed out at least 6 inches. As I stood there a grinning drooling idiot as Rich slowly backed the car out of the trailer. The term symphony came to mind as I listened to the exhaust note and the term is still valid even though it?s been three weeks. I don?t think it will change in the near future. Every start still makes me feel like the small hairs on my neck and arms should be standing on end.
First Look: Coming out of the trailer into the full sun reinforced my appreciation for the artistry of Walt Wosco and his son Walt III. The paint lit up like a fireworks display reflecting various prisms of light and color as the car changed it?s angle to the sun. It was a positively gleaming jewel even with the light coat of travel dust on the surface.
Rich and I changed places in the driver?s seat and I moved the car off to the side out of the way of the trailer. As I was moving the car I got my first scare. Looked like smoke coming out from under the hood. Did a double then triple take and then realized it was reflections off of the paint through the windshield that gave the impression of smoke. Started breathing again. Since then it has gotten my attention any number of times. I guess that?s the price you pay for near perfect paint and polish from an expert. Looks like I?ll just have to live with it. Bummer.
Shut it off and still grinning (I?d stopped drooling but the front of my shirt was still wet) walked back to Rich and damn near dislocated his shoulder shaking hands with him and thanking him. He was grinning back even though he must see a lot of those dumb grins on peoples faces. I?ll be eternally grateful to him for all the effort he expended on a stranger to help make the dream come true.
Moved the little red car into the garage, carefully dusted it off and spent a good twenty minutes just walking around it and gawking. Everything I?d expected and more, I was having a bit of trouble believing it was there. My wife, who is infinitely tolerant of my, at times, odd and/or eccentric behavior, was even in awe of the work of art that was the Cobra.
Enough gawking (couldn?t do anything about the grinning, even my wife) time to get it on the road. Checked the oil, coolant in the expansion tank, tire pressure, spinner safety wire, put on hat and sunglasses, warned the wife for the umpteenth time about the side pipes, walked her through latching up the four point belts (going to need a little practice there) got my own belts on turned the key, flipped up the safety cover on the starter switch and grinned even wider as the big block coughed into life. I was ready for my first real drive in the object of my almost undivided attention for the past 15 months.
Backed out of the drive (after looking very carefully in all five directions, left, right front, back and above, you can never tell where trouble may be coming from) and eased on down the street followed by the restrained growl of the exhaust at neighborhood speeds. End of the street and stop for the stop sign. Check all five directions again and pull out onto the main street for a straight shot to the gas station half a mile away. Check the gauges no more than 40 or 50 times in that first half mile. Primary check, oil pressure, holding at 60 lbs. Water temp coming off the peg, oil temp still not showing any signs of life, voltmeter a steady 14 volts (100 amp heavy duty alternator) fuel gauge showing about 1/8.
Half way to the gas station my first thumbs up from a car going the other way. Not bad for the first quarter mile with the car. Ease up to the gas pump and let the lumpy idle go on for about 15 or 20 seconds before shutting it off. Undo the belts, climb carefully over the pipes, walk around to the back and hit the latch on the Le Mans filler and watch it pop open. Another touch of the uniqueness of the car. Slip the credit card in and out of the pump, press the premium button and let the tank begin to fill. About half way through a couple of high school girls driving by give me my first ?You?ve got a beautiful car? shout. My wife and I both wave a thank you acknowledgement of the compliment. Finished fueling, back in over the pipes, re-latch the 4 points and grin even wider as the engine again redefined the phrase ?exploding into life?.
Pull onto the road and head for the freeway that will take us to my niece?s office at the dealership. A little less than a mile and the freeway on ramp is coming up, water temp is nearing 80C, the oil temp is off the peg and coming up through 60C and the oil pressure is steady at 55 lbs. Fuel and voltmeter where expected. Take the on ramp and accelerate carefully through the gears to 60mph. The Tremec TKO600 has all of the gears exactly where I would expect them to be and the positive shifts have a very reassuring feel. The gear ratios feel very good to an admitted novice to these machines but with a bit of an autocross background in my somewhat younger years for some perspective.
Keeping it at 60 which takes about 2000 rpm in 5th and keep an eye on everything. Water temp. stabilizes at 85C and so does the oil temp. Looks like the oil cooler thermostat is working since the needle climb was at a pretty steady rate until then. Oil pressure down to 50lbs but not unexpected since it?s now warm. Fifteen minutes at 60mph and all O.K.
Time for another 10mph to keep up with the traffic in the next lane. Sure doesn?t take much pedal to get that extra 10mph, as a matter of fact I was there with doing little more than just thinking about it. Seventy and the tach is showing me only 2300 rpm thanks to the TKO?s 0.82 overdrive 5th gear and the 3.07 rear end. Oil pressure is up to 55 lbs with the increased rpm and just what I?d expect. Passing an older van in the right hand lane and I get an arm out the window with a thumb up, can?t see the driver, just the arm and thumb. Another thank you wave for the compliment. That?s three within the first 30 minutes of putting the car on the road. This is going to be a beautiful relationship.
Arrive at the niece?s dealership and park the car front and center in front of the main showroom. Check gauges again, all o.k. and shut it down. Walk into the show room and poke my head around the corner into my niece?s office, she can?t see the front of the building from her office. Ask her how much she?ll give me for a trade in on one of the new trucks we were talking about. Puzzled look from her followed by ?What are you talking about??. I tell her to come with me and give me an estimate on trade in value.
Still puzzled we walk out to the front of the showroom and out to the parking lot.
My niece inherited the conversation gene from my mother?s side of the family. Anyone with the gene is driven to engage in conversation about something or someone at all times. If there?s no one around the mirror will work just fine as a conversation partner and, barring a mirror, a blank wall will work. This was the first time I?ve ever seen her absolutely speechless. All she could do is stand there and stare at the red and gold jewel shining in the afternoon sun. I glance over at my wife and she?s turning purple trying not to laugh at my niece?s reaction.
She finally gets over the initial shock and the questions start and I, being the true sensitive and caring uncle I am, did my best to help ease her over the initial shock.
Niece: What is that?
Me: Ah, a Cobra?
Niece: I know that, what are you doing with it?
Me: Ah, it?s mine?
Niece: Well I figured that, where did it come from?
Me: Ah, Connecticut?
Niece: How did it get here?
Me: Ah, truck?
It took about another 10 minutes with my able assistance but she finally go the whole picture. While she was getting her head wrapped around the idea about 10 of the sales people were forming a circle around the car and the questions were starting in earnest along with smiles all around and mine being the widest. More smiles and glowing eyes when I opened the hood to display Joe Lapine?s artistry. More grins and knowing looks all around when I fired the engine and ran it up and down the scale a couple of times. Running it up and down flushes out another half dozen people to come over and stare and ask questions. A few minutes later my niece tells me the dealership?s owner ?just has to see this one? and pops back inside to return in a minute or so with the owner in tow. Another pair of wide eyes and a grin join those already there. Spent the next 10 minutes talking to him about the car and starting it again so he can bask in the rumble of the exhaust.
Have to accompany the niece back to the service department where she tells the service manager she needs an evaluation of a car out front for trade-in. He asks what year and make and she tells him a 66 that?s some kind of British Roadster. He rolls his eyes and follows her towards the front of the dealership. She?s starting to get into the spirit of things.
Out to the front watching his face. There go the eyebrows in a steep climb towards the hairline. Add another big grin. More questions. Goes back inside to get some more people who ?need to see this?.
Another 4 or 5 people. I?m starting to loose track of how many at this point.
An hour and a half later we?ve wound down and it?s time to leave to beat any rush hour traffic that may develop. Tell the niece they need to get one of their own and put it in the show room just for display. Her answer is that, while it would make a great display, she wouldn?t be able to take the bickering, whining and fights over who got to drive it for demos.
The wife and I climb in, belt up and I bring the little red car to life again all under the envious stare of about a dozen people still standing around. Check all five directions again and pull out of the parking lot to a bunch of waves and thumbs up. Back to the freeway checking the gauges every 5 or 10 seconds. It?s still a car with only 55 miles on it of which 11 are mine. The operative word here is MINE.
Hit the on ramp and bring it up to 65 to merge with the traffic head snapping around like a prairie dog looking for a threat but everyone seems to be giving the car a wide berth and letting me go just about as I please. I can see heads turning in almost every other car as I blend with the other traffic. About 5 minutes and 20 instrument checks later a beat up tanker passes me in the left lane and, once in front, starts some alarming weaving in his lane. Watching through his rear window I can see him craning to look back and in his mirrors to get another look at the car. Note to self, be sure take notice of this type of behavior and give them plenty of room just in case.
Five more miles of smiles from other drivers another two thumbs up and we?re off the freeway and I?m fixing to turn off the off ramp and go under my first overpass. I?ve been awfully good today and I deserve a reward. While not a Freeway Overpass Acceleration Test it is still an overpass and I give in to my impulse to hear the exhaust note. I watch the tach take a quick run up to 4500 (still a new engine) and see my wife?s hands come up to cover her ears. A pure symphony in the echo chamber of the overpass. I give my wife a quick look and grin (juvenile?, sophomoric?, you bet) and receive her answering ?I know you?re happy but let?s not make this a regular thing with me in the car? look. O.K. I can live with that, she isn?t going to be with me when I go under every overpass or tunnel.
Get back to the niece?s house without incident just another bunch of head turns and stares from pedestrians. Waiting to turn left at one intersection and a car coming the other way stops and waves me through in front of him. I?ve heard about this but it?s is another first in a day full of them. Shut the engine off and both my wife and I just sit there for about 2 or 3 minutes just letting the afternoon with a dream soak in.
The narrative of the drive from Denver to Portland will be coming shortly.
Postscript: MassFlo Fuel Injection
Did a Mass-Flo EFI installation last winter on my 428 FE and got a season on it this summer (about 7,000 miles). Very pleased with the driveability of the setup and it's performed without a hitch from sea level to 14,000 feet.
Put the car on a chasis dyno before I took the Holly off and after I put the EFI on. No significant changes in power or torque but the curves for the EFI were considerably smoother.
Minor early teething problems but they were immediately and correctly addressed by Chris at Mass-Flo. Very easy to talk to and knows his stuff.
Looks pretty much like a carb but with fuel rails. Very complete kit, nothing extra needed.