Electrified Cobra will strike in silence

Superformance reveals development of electric-powered Cobras

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Cobra-E
Prototype for the Superformance Cobra Mk III-E is currently tuned to provide 2,500 pound-feet of torque | Superformance LLC photos

Lance Stander was sitting at a stop light recently in one of his Superformance Cobras when someone pulled up next to him in a Tesla. The Tesla driver indicated he wanted to race when the light flashed green. 

“I don’t stand a chance,” Stander recalled thinking. 

Although his Cobra accelerated smartly at the green signal, “he just left me,” Stander said of the electric vehicle’s ability to put its full torque to the pavement instantaneously. 

Oh, he added, while the Tesla drove off in silence, “with the kind of noise the Cobra made, I was probably attracting every cop in the area — and he won the race!”

But that scenario figures to be changing very soon with Stander and Superformance revealing development of an electric-powered Cobra, with Stander telling the ClassicCars.com Journal that if the car isn’t ready for its coming-out party by the end of this year, it will be officially unveiled in January 2021 during the Barrett-Jackson auction and automotive extravaganza in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I was one of those guys totally against electric cars,” admitted Stander, chief executive and president of Hillbank Motor Corporation and owner of Superformance, distributor of replica and continuation cars. 

“I said I wanted to die never having driven an electric car,” he continued. But then he did.

“The power and performance, you cannot deny these cars. The acceleration is crazy, mind-blowing, like nothing we’ve ever experienced in a petrol car unless it has 1,000 horsepower and drag racing slicks.”

But, he added, you get that sort of experience in a standard Tesla.

The push to electrify Superformance Cobras came from customers, Stander said. Some see a Cobra EV as simply being cool, he said. Others said they were tired of waking the neighborhood when they got up early for car shows, or even just to drive for a morning cup of coffee. Others said they want to be able to experience EV acceleration without the exhaust noise that attracts unwanted attention.

He also said that customers said they aren’t giving up their Cobras with internal combustion engines, but simply buying another Cobra that can be driven in what amounts to stealth mode.

Serious Cobra owners don’t consider electrification blasphemy because they know that Carroll Shelby oversaw the early development of an electric-powered Cobra some 15 years ago.

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“Contrary to the belief of most people, Carroll didn’t live in the past,” Stander said. “He always said the best Shelby is the next one. He was always looking into new technology. He was a very forward thinker.”

In fact, when Jovan “Joe” Katic and his team at Gotech Performance in Pompano Beach, Florida, began working on the electric Cobra with Superformance, Katic said “We asked ourselves, if Shelby was around, if he was standing there, what would he do? That’s how we tried to build it. We didn’t change dimensions or suspension geometry. We just snuck the motor in there.”

OK, so it wasn’t quite that simple. For one thing, Katic said, the torque had to be limited — to 2,500 pound-feet! 

“I could go to 4,000,” he said, and then correcting himself and noting that it actually could go much higher.

“There’s plenty,” he said in summary.

Specific performance numbers have yet to be revealed as the powertrain continues in development.

“The performance numbers don’t make any sense,” Stander said. “They’re just unbelievable.”

The team is working on the right setup for the car so it will offer adequate range along with power and will be light enough to still handle like a Cobra.

“We’re shooting for 150 to 200 miles,” Stander said, noting that batteries are heavy. “We want to keep the light sports car feel; the Cobra is a light British sports car with American horsepower.”

Superformance did a “soft announcement” of the car at the recent SEMA360 show. 

“We haven’t opened the order book,” Stander said. “We haven’t finalized the price, but we don’t see it being a whole lot more (than the current gasoline-powered Cobras). 

“The big expense is in the batteries,” he added.

As development of the Cobra MkIII-E continues toward the car’s formal unveiling, the Superformance team is looking at similar treatment for the GT40 and Daytona Coupe. It’s also looking at the possibility of front and rear motors, and thus all-wheel drive.

Already, the team is looking on down the road, just like Shelby would.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

13 COMMENTS

  1. As a car collector for most of my life ,and with a Superformance Daytona coupe in my sights , it is disappointing to hear that my favorite car builder company is planning to make a cobra GOLF CART !
    I drive a race prepped C-5 as a Dailey and love hole shooting every Tesla golf cart that I can at every opportunity, I don’t expect to beat them past 100 ft. So I always let off ,so that I hear the silent whoosh as they finally go by. These aren’t valid cars, they don’t sound like anything at all…why perpetuate this fraud? I’ll still have my Superformance 427 Roush powered Daytona Coupe, that sounds and smells like it’s supposed to, and at 73 I’ll drive the hell out of it too! All of my car buddies feel the same as I do !

    • Totally get that!! More than half the fun for me is driving my 68 Charger, the sound of a big cammed 440 shaking at idle to balls out acceleration while going through the gears. Nothing better than that IMO.
      Watching that Cobra go down the road with a whisper reminds me of our shepherd when he got neutered.
      Just glad they didn’t put side pipes on it.

    • Funny how every video of every “race prepped” C5 vs ANY Tesla shows the Vette getting its a** handed to it. I love how when EV cars started crushing ICE cars everyone fell back on the “I can’t outrun them but I SOUND better than they do” argument. Well, keep on sounding better than them while they wave at you in their rear view mirror.

  2. Among the reasons Lance Stander offered for an electrified Cobra were customer requests, spectacular performance, etc. But another, if unmentioned, likely is the fact that there are places that already are banning petroleum-fueled vehicles (European center cities, for example) and electrification of vehicles such as the Cobra (and other collector vehicles) is a way to keep them on the roads of the future. Note, as well, that Carroll Shelby was experimenting with an electric Cobra more than a decade ago.

  3. Likewise did Lee Iacoca but dropped batteries realizing it’s about ‘living an era of racing celebrity’. Auto racing with a crowd soundtrack due to Covid fits with electric racing, add V-8 soundtrack and then get rid of Indy and just do it virtual. Uh-huh, and pay per view, get your snacks in the kitchen and order an autograph picture with your head overlay.
    I love Cobra fans, families and kids stopping by the car and seating them for pictures. Redmond Targa 66 PBDC I heard ‘that Cobra is the best sounding car out there’. Wanna play cowboy you go to Wyoming… or you can ride a Mery-Go-Round. Put the two cars running 50′ apart and the crowd will gather around the V-8. That’s an electric Cobra over there… ‘Oh really, I didn’t notice.

  4. Once development of the fake 427 exhaust sound is proven and finalized…. Then they will have a product. Lol

    Honestly, sounds and smells are a big part of the allure of a 427 Cobra!

  5. “In my day we didn’t want any part of those dadburned new fangled horseless carriages, with their smoke and engine noise! Give me the sound of a horse whinnying and the smell of manure and the feel of droppings being kicked off the road into my face any day!” A quote from grandpa

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