Superformance Cobra – 50 Year Old Record Falls in the Desert
After Ted Taormina finished building a Superformance Cobra (MK III model) at his shop in San Carlos, CA it did not take him long to figure out what to do with it. He took it to the Mohave Air and Space Port where he shattered a 50-year-old top speed record for Cobras by going 201.1 mph.
Taormina, owner of Taormina Imports, has done the grunt work of installing the power plants and transmissions on over 60 “rollers” that were sold to customers by Superformance. Plus his shop works on plenty of high end supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini to offer him additional inspiration and insights.
He had built a few Cobras on spec and always ended up selling them to customers or dealerships. But this Superformance Cobra, he built for himself and even the paint scheme reflects his Sicilian heritage. Taormina was originally going to put a V12 engine in it to mimic one he built for racing legend Phil Hill. But his engine builder called one day offering a 427 FE with a 700 horsepower output. As he was putting it together, he heard of the record that had been set by Dick Smith fifty years ago and figured he should be able to beat that record using today’s technology.
Taormina had taken some aerodynamic courses at local colleges and by studying the styling of the Ferraris and other supercars realized he would need to make some modifications to help keep the Cobra stable and safe at those high speeds. He built from scratch front canards, spoilers and diffusers along with aluminum belly pans to control the paths of the airstream. Taormina noted that “I’ll never sleep if I don’t do this after I committed.”
Just with a stock set up, with a windshield in place he was able to reach 160 mph. Taormina actually took the car out to Mohave in October 2016 for a few runs but fuel delivery issues and high winds stopped him from breaking the records. Taormina said the “gusts were so bad; I had a hard time trying to keep it on track”. This same runway is where Carl Edwards previously set a record with a Toyota Land Cruiser at a crazy-fast 230.03 mph.
Taormina was given the opportunity to run it again this spring. The jet runaway actually allows for a 1.5-mile measured distance as the balance is left for the cars to slow down and safely come to a stop. As Taormina explains, “At those speeds you need to slowly lift off of the gas, downshift and slowly apply the brakes. It had rained the night before and the winds were calm.” On his first run, he topped out at an impressive 191.8 mph but knew he had more in the Cobra.
His second run topped out at an official 201.1 mph. Taormina noted the Superformance Cobra was still pulling and he feels he could go faster with a longer launch pad. Taormina is content with the record for now, but like a true racer is open to trying to top it at a different course. He’s got the time slip to show for his efforts and a race car that is street legal.