When Vince Quatromani was growing up he was like a lot of kids. “I used to love building models,” he said, adding that he still has everyone he ever built.
As he’s grown older he hasn’t lost that love of putting together the pieces in a kit to create a replica of a favorite car. But today, the model has just gotten a little bigger.
In 1992 he started his grandest model project, a 1966 AC Cobra reproduction. He got the entire kit from Classic Roadster, one of the oldest companies to be making the Cobra kits.
The Cobra, of course, was manufactured by the British firm of AC Motors but was the brain child of American automotive icon Carroll Shelby. A successful driver, Shelby retired in 1959 due to health reasons and turned his attention first to a high performance driving school and then to the Shelby-American Company. It was through the latter that he teamed with AC to have them design a car that could be fitted with a small block V8 engine.
Development of the Cobra was quick. Shelby had asked AC to create the modified version of the car in 1961 and by early 1962 he had fitted it with the V8 and a new transmission and was testing it. The car was officially manufactured through 1967.
Shelby, of course, then went on to do work with Ford, helping to design the Daytona Coupe as well as numerous Mustangs that bear his name. He would later move over to Dodge where he had a hand in developing the Viper.
As for the Cobra, several companies cropped up that began creating kits for enthusiasts to build their own versions of the car.
Like many of those enthusiasts, Vince bought a kit and, in 1993, after having it for a year, was ready to paint it the medium metallic burgundy with silver that it sports today. But it wasn’t until 1994 that he actually got the car on the road.
“What took so long was that I was trying to find the right motor,” he said. He eventually used a five liter 302 horse power small block V8 that came from what he called his “donor car,” a 1989 Mustang. The transmission also came from that machine. He also used a Mustang II suspension in the front and the rear end from a 1994 Mustang.
“There’s nothing hard with the kit, all the pieces fit together perfectly,” Vince said. “Really, I didn’t run into any problems.”
As was the case with all those models Vince built when he was growing up, putting the Cobra together was a very entertaining. “The fun of it is building the car yourself,” he said.
One thing this kit can do that the models of his youth couldn’t, is run. He takes it out on weekends whenever he can and absolutely loves to drive it.
Vince told the story of having the topless car out for a drive one day when the skies started clouding up. “I was up to 130, outrunning the rain storm,” he said, adding that he could have taken the car faster but held back. “I got into the garage just before it started raining.”
Not bad for something a long time model builder put together out of a kit.