AC 427 Cobra Days
By “Animal” Jim Feurer
I don't know how many readers ever had the pleasure of driving a Shelby AC Cobra 427. I not only drove one but serviced and worked on one. Almost owned one.
In 1966, a little over a year before I opened my own full-time shop in Lacon, Illinois, I was still working in Peru, Illinois at Peterman Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, a good sized dealership. Shelby had upped the performance standard of his earlier 289 AC Cobra by offering Cobras with 427FE Medium Risers that sported two 715 CFM Holleys.
As my good luck would have it, a local doctor (mine in fact) ordered one of these beasts through Peterman Ford-Lincoln-Mercury. Doc's optional blueprinted 427 was boasted by Shelby to dyno at 485 h.p. Ha!... That engine made well over 500 h.p. The 427 chassis was slightly heavier than the 289 version at 2529-lbs. curb weight, but the extra power more than made up for it. It was blue (looked like “Richard Petty Blue”) with white stripes and the price was just under $7,000.
Perfect image of Doc's Cobra
When it arrived at Peterman's and was unloaded the Cobra got lot of attention. Not just gear heads. People of all automobile persuasions came. Even media people showed up. Peterman had his own daily full-time radio program from the dealership to help promote the occasion. Since I was the shop's resident gearhead and familiar with 427s, I got to do the pre-delivery and test driving. That car had a super sound. When I took it out for a run, it functioned like a huge slot car: indescribable acceleration, handling and braking. You could dart this way and that, and with lightning acceleration and de-acceleration. Cornered like nothing I ever drove before (or after, for that matter). Zero to 100 and back to zero in less than 13 seconds! When I got back into my 2-ton, ‘63 427-425 h.p. Merc - which was one of the quickest cars in the LPO area - it felt like a 352-powered truck in comparison.
Before long and when cooler weather arrived, Doc decided to have a "Fiber Fab" hard top installed. So…guess who got to do that? I was plenty nervous drilling holes in that rare aluminum body. But I gained confidence because Fiber Fab did a good job with accurate templates and instructions, and all went well. The side windows of that top were Lexan. The front of the windows had a small handle to slide one-half of the front back along the rear portion if it needed opening. This side window function will come up later in my story.
Interior, Color is exact. Wish I had a picture with Fiber Fab top.
Somehow word would get out, resulting in a lot of people always coming by to see the Cobra whenever it was in our shop for service or repair. Most were impressed, but, with human nature sometimes prevailing, some were skeptical and thought Doc wasted his money. One day I was getting ready to test drive the Cobra after a tune up when one of our teenage, wiseass wash boys and car wranglers made fun of the Cobra, calling it a “joke.” I said to him: get in! When we returned from a little test drive, our car wrangler got out staggering and puked his guts out!
I had taken him through the remote new housing development north of the dealership, with new black top streets and roads but no structures yet. Then, it was out to I-80 for some top speeds. With the Fiber Fab top off at the time, I gave the teen wrangler a ride I’m sure he never forgot. 180 to 190 mph for 5 miles was very fast back then. (I-80 was new and not so busy in ’66.) Then I took him back through the streets of the housing development again. To give you an idea of the power, on Interior, Color is exact. Wish I had a picture with Fiber Fab top.the way back from giving our little wrangler a Cobra demo, I was cruising at about 60 on SR 51, nearing the dealership. A guy I knew, with a brand new RT Dodge, pulled alongside, downshifted and jammed the gas. I was in 4th. I just stepped down and left him like he had hit the brakes.
I need to tell about Stan Peterman, owner of the dealership. He was a little pear-shaped Jewish man in his late 50s in 1966. Stan had been part of the huge Forman Motors group in Chicago, but had come to Peru to make his own mark (which he did accomplish). Sometime after Peterman was established in Peru, a disgruntled customer came into Forman Motors sales office in Chicago, and used a 12-gauge for payment of his unrealized huge balloon payment, killing some of Stan's former colleagues. That incident resulted in some new legislation regarding balloon payments.
Hail, Hail Rock and Roll and the wild 1960s!
Stan was curious about the Cobra, and would come in the service department, look at it and ask me questions whenever it was in his dealership. I would tell him to take it for a ride, but he was fearful of it. Stan was cool and I loved the guy. He took off frequently in the afternoons. Whatever he planned to do that day he would arrive in the morning to do his radio program in the proper attire for the afternoon. I could always tell what that later outing would be. If he was going golfing, he would don putter pants, a golf shirt and golfing-type hat. If boating in his yacht on the Illinois River, he would have light blue canvas pants with rolled-up cuffs, crepe-soled deck shoes, boating-type shirt and a sea captain's hat.
Continued on next page...
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