How to Survive a Cobra Bite

Just apply 535 horsepower to the area.

WRITTEN BY: Christ Constantine (RS: @silentcartographer)

PHOTOS BY: Pablo Bayo (RS: @airmadrid)

Some people buy their dream cars, but Ruark Dreher (RS: @sp03332) had his built. To the untrained eye, Ruark’s car just looks like a regular ol’, one-of-27 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C, but the 2017 Superformance Mark III replica in his possession is much more than that.

Ruark is a Cobra aficionado through and through, as it’s the car that jump-started his automotive obsession. After riding in an original Shelby at 18 years old, he knew that the Cobra was the car for him…someday. “People enjoy seeing it because it’s something different and it’s classic,” Ruark explained. “The old guys know exactly what it is, but a lot of younger people enjoy seeing it because it’s something a little different.”

He discovered Irvine, CA-based manufacturer Superformance 15 years prior to buying the car, the only Cobra replica chassis manufacturer officially licensed by Shelby American, so he knew this might be almost as good as the real McCoy. “Last year I ended up with the opportunity to get the car… and instead of buying a used car, I decided I wanted it done the way I wanted it.”

To pick out his dream configuration for his Cobra, Ruark put down the computer and picked up an Xbox controller, using “Forza Motorsport 6” to test different color combinations on a virtual Shelby Cobra. He settled on Shelby Navy Blue with Viper Steel Gray Le Mans racing stripes and custom Monza Red fender stripes. After ordering the car from Hillbank Motor Sports, Superformance’s primary dealer, Ruark recruited Voss Performance of Anaheim, California, to add life to his new ride. Voss installed a carefully-chosen Ford Performance 427 cubic-inch crate motor and Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual transmission, as well as power steering and electronic fuel injection for what Ruark calls “a touch of modern mechanical convenience.” The Franken-snake currently spits out 535 horsepower.

In the span of a year, Ruark has put 6,000 miles on his car, as he enjoys bombing around the canyon roads of the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains whenever he can. “With that short wheelbase and all that power, it’s quite the beast,” he explains. “[I]f you mistreat the car, it’s gonna let loose on you and you’re gonna be in trouble. Driving something like that, you’ve gotta have a healthy respect for it.”

The bread and butter of Ruark’s relationship with his Cobra however comes from the shows he goes to. He attended the Carroll Shelby Tribute Car Show for the first time this year and won a recognition award in the Cobra class, which he claimed over a couple of original examples. But it’s not strictly Shelby stuff, as people who go to Piazza Gran Turismo in Thousand Oaks or Malibu Cars & Coffee at the Malibu Bluffs Park may encounter Ruark there, having a stare down with some Ferrari owners. Ironically, he dreams of someday owning a Ferrari 308 or Dino 246 GT.

Don’t worry though, Ruark is still loyal to his first love, and wears the car’s chassis number, SP03332, proudly on his sleeve wherever he goes.

Connect with Ruark (RS: @sp03332)