1965 Shelby Cobra

As seen on Season Two of FantomWorks


 Owner Insight:

While Clay was serving with the U.S. Navy in Manama, Bahrain, he saw an advertisement for Factory Five Racing (FFR) in the back of a recent issue of Car and Driver.  The idea of building one of these “kit cars” captured his imagination – recalling that he and his father had considered such a project when he was a teenager – and he sent for the promotional DVD.  After his return stateside he ventured up to Wareham, Massachusetts for a tour of the Factory Five facility, and after he saw how much attention to detail and robust construction technique went into the Factory Five products, he was hooked.  He diligently put pencil to paper and realized up front that he didn’t have the critical mix of time, tools, talent, patience, and real estate to cannibalize a late model Mustang that is required for such an “owner build”; so he set about looking for a “previously owned” roadster.  One day he discovered the Capital Area Cobra Club website, and Ben’s For Sale notice; you can guess the rest.  The roadster moved from Maryland to Virginia on Christmas Eve, 2008.

This particular Factory Five Racing Mark2 Ford Cobra Roadster Replica was originally built in 2002.  Ben Lambiotte (the third owner) undertook a complete body-off rebuild in 2007 using all new, state-of-the-art parts, with the heavy lifting accomplished by Larry Casey and Fred Kelley, noted Maryland FFR builders and racers.  The car was a familiar competitor on the Washington DC area autocross circuit, and posted several top 25 finishes at Cumberland and top five finishes at Capital Driving Club events in 2008.  Ben sold the car to Clay Riales in December 2008, and Clay subsequently enlisted the services of the DRS FantomWorks gang in Norfolk, Virginia to continue customization of the car.  Since 2009, FantomWorks has made the parking brake fully functional, reworked the sheet metal of the tranny tunnel to provide more leg room in the cockpit, installed a fresh wiring system, an aviation intercom to permit headset operation on the open road, a passenger-side racing seat and a matching roll bar, an under-hood hinge structure, three faux machine guns , and oversaw the re-skinning of the shell with a heavy duty vinyl wrap.

This FFR Cobra Roadster Replica is the ultimate driver’s car.  It is extremely well balanced, corner weighted, with a 54-46% weight distribution.  New Konis, and all rubber suspension bushings on control arms and IRS knuckles have been replaced with race quality Teflon rod end or spherical bearings, among many other details too numerous to mention. Clay has been enjoying it for over 5 years now, and plans to hand it down to his son Logan who is in the process of completing his Eagle Scout requirements.

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Strip & Metal Fab


Body & Paint


Detail & Trim




Long about 1961 Carroll Shelby, an ex-Texas chicken farmer, was forced to leave racing because of a health problem, and was looking for something to do.

One of his first thoughts was how well a compact American V-8 engine might work in a light, but sophisticated European sports car chassis. The chassis he had in mind was the A.C. Ace, a featherlight two-seat roadster that A.C. had been building for several years. The first engine he considered was the small-block Chevrolet, which had come into the world in the 1955 model year and changed everything everybody thought about Chevrolet. It was an engine so good that it would still be in volume production 40 years later.

Charles Hurlock at A.C. Cars was more than ready for the new engine, particularly since his company always seemed to be hovering near the abyss — which seems to be the fate of most sports car companies. With little more than a phone call from Shelby as his go-ahead, he had a small-block Ford installed in an Ace chassis.

In April 1962 a prototype of the Cobra was exhibited at the New York Auto Show and the automotive press went ga-ga. Of course, that kind of press was just what Iacocca had in mind, and to keep the positive ink flowing, the Ford exec bankrolled the Shelby effort and installed some of its own engineering talent to make sure development went smoothly.

Read more about Shelby Cobras at: http://www.wate.com/story/11723174/when-ford-met-shelby-the-story-of-the-shelby-cobra

Other Season Two Projects