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Page 2  - Non - 'Stang of the Month April 2022 - Russ Foster's '65 Daytona Coupe Replica 

 

        In the engine compartment, I took some liberties for the sake of driving comfort by adding power steering, air conditioning, electronic fuel injection and lots of polished aluminum and stainless steel. Even with all these amenities, however, it is clear that this replica is a loud, brutal race car, not a comfortable cruiser. What follows are some hard-won lessons from my lengthy project.

        Overall, I’d emphasize that perseverance is a requirement because most kits don’t just fall together. I had some serious setbacks during my 15-year build. The worst of these were the loss of my dear late wife of 40 years, and increasing responsibilities at our business in Silicon Valley that I founded with three friends in 1999. Through it all, I remembered that I had finished almost every project I’d started throughout my life and was darn well going to finish this one. So before embarking on one of these projects, ask yourself if it’s a realistic task for you, given current (and possible future) family and work responsibilities and financial requirements.
       In terms of nitty-gritty details on this particular project, wiring was one big challenge. Even though I worked in the electronics industry, I had difficulty with the nuances of automotive wiring. Not the least of which was reading the tiny writing on the dozens of wires in my universal harness that came with the kit.
        I got some initial help from a local hot rod shop but it went out of business, so I was on my own again. I asked around with some of my Cobra-building friends, and one name came up repeatedly: Glenn di Orio. He was an early Factory Five roadster builder who had decades of experience in all aspects of automotive maintenance. This gentleman has been a lifesaver for me not only on wiring, but on many other parts of the build. Experience really helps, particularly when the person is of high integrity. (That wasn’t the case with a couple of suppliers, but that’s another story.)
        Several years later, I traveled to Southern California to visit the shop that was supposed to paint my car. It was well worth my time and expense, as my high expectations were exceeded. Jeff “Da Bat” Miller of Miller Customs in Temecula does great work and manages his cash flow well.

       My decision to add EFI also posed some difficulties. Very early in my build, I purchased a well-regarded aftermarket EFI kit, which included the ECU and its huge, general-purpose wiring harness to go with my individual runner (stack) induction system. During the long build time, however, this product was discontinued, and it was also best tuned by an EFI expert. Even with years of experience building racing karts and a Devin in my earlier years, the job simply wasn’t for a mere hobbyist such as myself. I did use the system during the car’s first few thousand miles and it worked fine, but I have since changed over to a Holley system, which has a much wider following among both professionals as well as hobbyists.
        All told, my diverse background in microwave test instrumentation and racing sailboat hardware came in handy on this project. The common denominator: Products must be able to be shipped around the world and perform reliably to specification in harsh environments over long periods of time. In my Cobra replica project, I have sought to incorporate what I learned in these businesses. As noted above, I hit a few bumps along the way, but have done my best to overcome them in making a nicely finished, reliable vehicle that does justice to the remarkable legacy of the legendary Cobra Daytona Coupe.
                                                                                                  - Russ Foster