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  1. #1

    Buying an older Cobra?

    Hi - looking to buy a Cobra - hopefully this year - but really interested to know your thoughts on the below...

    Just to set the scene - I'm no mechanic but do like getting my hands dirty with basic car tinkering jobs. I would be looking for a built/on the road car. Ford/Chevy V8. Carburettor (not injection). It would not be for track use, just weekend drives and shows etc.

    1970/80's RAM ...or... early 2000's GD / AK / Dax / SR

    Main question is - does buying an older car (e.g. RAM) potentially mean a lot more problems with spares, replacement parts?? Or due to low mileage and if well maintained - makes little difference? (other than a small road tax saving)

    Many thanks for your thoughts in advance


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Chelmsford Essex
    Hi Rob,

    Regarding the spares you will not have an issue. All the suspension parts if Jaguar based like xj6 or xj40 are easily available and very reasonable prices. I have a 1993 built car and owned 26 years with Jaguar running gear I have renewed the bushes and brake calliper rebuilt, due to a matter of age and due to my vigilance to keep the car maintained. Change the fluids oils, antifreeze and brake fluid regular and you should have trouble free motoring. I poor built new or old will let you down but with any car parts fail but our cars are straight forward on a carb with no ECU to worry about.
    I would look at eliminating contact points and fitting a magnetic pick up which reduces maintenance and improve reliability.
    What I would look at is aged wiring and replace especially in the engine bay where you get a lot of heat. Some of the early chassis did suffer bump steer and there are upgrades to eliminate this in 80's chassis.
    Our cars do very little mileage each year and ageing is the problem with rubbers and the new fuel E10. So I would look at fuel lines are replaced if they look old.
    My car is on historical classic status so zero road tax which is a bonus and make sure 100% it is registered correctly on the V5 and not just as a Jaguar. It should have the kit cars manufacturers name on the form Dax, Ram , GD. AK/ SR.
    Don't discount Pilgrim in your list as a Rover 3.5 will be less and just as much enjoyment. Some have Ford running rear which is available.
    Last edited by jon1d; 20-01-22 at 04:29 PM.
    John Desz

    Essex & Herts Area Rep. UKCC

    Crendon No5 S.A. 452Cu in, Ford Fe, Tremec TKO600,

    Dax 351 Cleveland T5 2.88 PL

    Events posted and meeting updates follow Face Book.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Hi Rob, what is your budget?
    .............never drive faster than your guardian angel. - this is the link to my build photo's you have to put w w w . h t t p : / / in front of it!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Pros and cons with buying an older car but that depends on its history. Most of the gremlins would have been sorted out by now although as previously said, aging then comes into it with bushes etc. The bodywork being fibreglass would have settled down so blistering should not be a problem, unless of course it had been rebodied within the last few years.
    Bespoke spares for the manufacturer may cause issues depending on whether they are still trading. But the manufacturers had to have things made for them, there is no reason why you couldn't do the same for that one broken item. Although usually there are acceptable alternatives. Coolant expansion tanks, fuel tanks etc.
    Chassis corrosion may be another thing to look for but you would be buying an uncared for dog if that were an issue.
    Thats my input.


    Life is driving the Cobra. The rest of the time is just waiting................till I fix it!

    Wessex region caretaker rep.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Its entirely possible to buy a badly built kit that came from a great manufacturer.. but these are simple cars and that kind of thing is easy to spot. I wouldn't be too worried about mileage or age either for that matter.

    There is very little the people on this forum cant help you with. There are decent specialists too - Cheng Lim at Thunder road was the development engineer on the RAM for example. Very occasionally there is an odd part, like a radiator, or maybe track rod ends, thats not off the shelf. In which case its not that hard to have a firm make it up for you - usually for far, far less than a modern BMW bit would cost!

    Basic car stuff applies:
    Make sure the engine is cold, to see how it starts.
    Does it go and stop in a straight line? Is it fidgety on a bumpy road?
    Listen for funny noises (although thats hard with sidepipes!)
    Make sure you take it for a decent run & restart it when its hot.
    If you arent confident at this stuff, taking a car for an MOT which you pay for is a pretty good way to get it checked before you buy it. Look underneath whilst its on the ramp (minor oil leaks are fairly common/standard issue on some engines!), look for rust, play in bushes etc.
    Looking at the wiring behind the dash is a good place to see the care taken in build - is it neat and tidy?.
    Check the date on the tyres (Anything older than 5 years I'd change, and anything that says 'Cooper' or 'BG Goodrich' has no place on a light performance car these days).
    Make sure the car is registered correctly - ie the v5 says something like cobra, or AK - not 'Jaguar saloon'.
    All cobras feel fast to the uninitiated, so don't believe a bhp figure until you see a dyno test (and even then...) and ideally receipts for proper parts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Reading, Berks, UK.
    Good to see another in the area, keep a look out for out meets, Tony usually starts the question, " anyone out for a drive/meet".
    Pop along and have a chat and look.
    Where about in the Reading area are you ?



  7. #7
    Great info and advice - thanks John

  8. #8
    Thanks David - will certainly look out for the meets for a chat. I'm North Caversham.

  9. #9
    Thanks Alex - great advice - appreciated!

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