In the car world, few people are as legendary as the late Carroll Shelby, and few cars are as iconic as the original Shelby Cobra. The Cobra’s combination of a lightweight British body and a powerful American V8 made were hard to beat, and Shelby’s 50-year career building performance cars made him a household name. Now, a new Italian company called Puritalia is launching a Cobra tribute, the 427. Will it live up to the legend?
The Naples-based company will unveil its new sports car on July 1, but it released this teaser image on its website. The 427 definitely looks like it was inspired by the Cobra. Its round headlights and ovoid grille make the connection, although the ostentatiously sculpted side vents are more of a modern touch. The original Cobra, based on the AC Ace, was beautiful in part because of its simplicity; hopefully Puritalia won’t clutter that original shape with too much jewelry.
Under the hood, Puritalia is sticking with the original Cobra formula. The car will have a V8 which, if the name is any indication, will displace 427 cubic inches. The base model will have 440 horsepower, and an optional supercharger will boost that number to 600.
The Puritalia 427 will also have a low curb weight. The frame is made of aluminum, and the body is made from unspecified lightweight materials. Puritalia wants the car to weigh less than 2,205 pounds which, combined with the powerful V8, should make the 427 ferociously fast. After all, the same combination is what made the original Cobra so great.
The first Cobra debuted in 1962, as Carroll Shelby’s answer to the Corvette. Powered by Ford V8s displacing 260, 289, and 427 cubic inches, the Cobras were more than Corvette rivals. They didn’t just beat Chevy’s sports car on the track, they also beat Ferrari and other European marques. Today, original Cobras are some of the most collectible cars in the world, with some examples selling for millions of dollars at auctions.
Living up to all that is a tall order. The Puritalia 427 might turn out to be a good car, but it might not compare well with a legend that just celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. That’s the problem with modern interpretations of classic cars: sometimes, people want the genuine article.