Bitten by the Cobra
A little book called Build Your Own Sports Car for as Little as £250 – and Race it! Inspired Martin Goggins Campos to toy with the notion of building his own, right here in Doha.
For the garden-variety auto enthusiast like me, owning a super car is a thought regularly interrupted by the obnoxious ring of an alarm clock every morning. Martin, however, took Ron Champion’s book seriously – he not only realized his dream of owning a super car but went ahead and built one himself.
Inspired by a Hyundai
Martin’s automotive interest began in his teens with modifications to his parents’ Hyundai station wagon while they were on holiday. A long shot from the thundering American muscle car he drives today, but an indicator of how his passion for cars runs too deep than to be satisfied by a weekend trip to an auto gathering. One particular machine held him captive through his tour of many auto shows, so much so that he decided to take on the project of building his own rendition of the legendary Shelby AC Cobra.
Given the tediousness of servicing my not-so-super car at the industrial area, it’s hardly surprising when Martin says his dream project had to be put on the back burner for quite a while thanks to the uninspiring facilities out there. He was forced to abandon plans to build a chassis here in Doha, a decision made much easier by the astronomical rates quoted by the body shops. But five years later, while in the United States, when a partially-completed build was up for sale, he knew his dream was ripe for the picking.
It takes a village…
We know that just about anyone can get behind the wheel on Qatar’s roads. But for the Cobra to be considered roadworthy, Martin had to get his hands greasy yet again. With the support of a tremendous online community and his similarly-inclined wife, Martin set out to build his candy blue beast. The QR50,000 assembly kit, originally manufactured by Factory Five, was not quite in line with the £250 price tag Ron Champion had been able to conjure. Kit cars similar to Martin’s usually require investment around the QR150,000 mark.
Seeing Martin pull up in this head-turner, there is no doubt in my mind that it’s worth every single dirham. Martin went full steam ahead with the project. The kit started on its way to becoming a fully-fledged AC Cobra replica when it was moved to a large facility in Northern Virginia, where the panels were put together to make the body and internals. This was then transported to a paint-shop for the sleek blue rendition. The finish spread across several other locations – an empty slot in a friend’s two-car garage, an underground parking lot, the kerb, and (naturally) Martin’s kitchen, where the transmission was assembled.
With considerable support from AC Cobra communities such as the ‘Capital Area Cobra Club’ he was able to fix problems that tended to recur in projects similar to his. After an exhausting building period of about 250 hours, spanning 30 months, the completed replica finally made its way into the State of Qatar officially dubbed a ‘Ford Cobra’.[boxify cols_use =”1″ cols =”2″ position =”right” order =”none” box_spacing =”0 0 10 10″ padding =”10 10 10 10″ background_color =”#3c3c3c” border_style =”solid” color=”#fff” ]
Set to inspire more kit cars?
Having experienced the best of automotive communities in the United States, Martin has set out to bring Doha’s enthusiast community together. The community there had provided support which was imperative in the building of his AC Cobra replica. With Qatarcarclub.com, an automotive forum, he hopes to build a similar engagement. Enthusiasts can discuss every nitty-gritty to do with cars in Qatar; certainly a great initiative that makes car enthusiasts like me optimistic. This is not just another website, it’s the notion that there is an automotive community in Qatar that needs a little push to evolve into something worthwhile. Being in one of the most super car populated cities in the world is all well and good, but seeing enthusiasts climb out of bed at the break of dawn on a weekend to get together out of love for the machine is a whole different ball game. It will certainly be nothing short of interesting to see how the site develops and hopefully creates an online community that can go on to become a physical one.[/boxify]
Qatarising the Cobra
Additional mirrors, catalytic converters and exhaust noise silencers are some of the changes that had to be made in order for the Cobra to be legally registered in Qatar.
The silencers installed on this car, however, have about as much effect as using Scotch tape on the opening of a volcano. Rest assured, it still manages to wake up hell the second the key turns in the ignition and the thunderous rumble begins to echo off any walls within reach. This, coupled with its heavy steering and firm clutch, only adds to the replica’s striking charm and character.
Yes, it may be difficult to drive in heavy traffic without a learner’s sticker on the trunk, but this may be due to the seats and pedals being tailored to Martin’s height, which conveniently allows him to be the person one able to drive it comfortably.
Although, being pushy, I was able to overcome this inherent security system and wobble into place for a quick spin, this is absolute genius since it saves Martin the trouble of having people drive
It’s also one of the many reasons he politely turns down the overwhelming number of offers made by interested buyers; the main reason, of course, is the resilient bond
We know that just about anyone can get behind the wheel on Qatar’s roads. But for the Cobra to be considered roadworthy, Martin had to get his hands greasy yet again.
The hood is a traffic stopper
This bond is also the reason Martin never compares his ‘baby’ to the myriad super cars which roar through Doha’s streets on a daily basis.
In addition to its brash exhaust noise, the Shelby definitely does have a conspicuous element of rarity just as worthy of a head-turn as any other super car.
In order to cope with Doha’s summertime heat, Martin had a hardtop built to fit his Shelby, which is not equipped with an AC. The custom top was built over four months by a talented craftsman in Pittsburgh, USA, with a lot of work from Martin’s end as well
In his opinion, however, having sanded fiberglass dust stuck in his pores for four weeks is a small hiccup in the ongoing process of modifying his Shelby.[boxify cols_use =”1″ cols =”3″ position =”left” order =”none” box_spacing =”0 10 10 0″ padding =”10 10 10 10″ background_color =”#3c3c3c” border_style =”solid” color=”#fff” ]
5.0L Mustang V8
Independent Rear Suspension
Upgraded Fuel Injectors
Front Disc Brakes – Rear Drum Brakes
He makes the most of the winter temperatures to cruise around town and take in the sights during weekends. In addition to the fact that it seems impossibly difficult to manoeuvre, the Shelby’s unforgiving rumble isn’t really ideal for an early morning drive to work. This is why, on weekdays, Martin navigates the world of screeching halts and close-calls with… wait for it… a Toyota Land Cruiser. Although it may be a far cry from the car culture Martin is so actively involved in, it is completely understandable that he would opt for a Land Cruiser over risking the product of his dreams on a daily basis.