Robnell Cobra: Our Shed
Our shed: Head bean-counter Andrew Stedwell lives his matchbox-car dream
It was love at first sight. Actually, it’s love every time I look at one. My eyes never tire of the lines of an AC Cobra – the low-slung body and muscular posture, the elegant nose and fat rear-end, separated by the open cockpit. Not to mention the hair-raising performance and the sound of a worked V8 with 4.0-inch sidepipes!
As a kid in a Superman T-shirt, the Cobra was the most treasured in my Matchbox collection. I dreamt that one day I’d own one.
But I thought my Matchbox dreams would never come true. As an 18-year-old, I sat in the driver’s seat of a green Robnell Cobra SC302. Excitement turned to ecstasy when my mate’s dad threw me the keys and told me to take it for a spin. Unfortunately, I couldn’t lift my leg to change the clutch as I’m six-foot-three. Not a car for anyone above six foot, I thought!
Nevertheless, over the years I kept a look out for Robnells in the pages of Unique Cars. I even managed to drive a silver Robnell press car, albeit very uncomfortably.
Two years ago I stumbled across a burgundy Robnell Cobra from the Northern Territory. The description read: "will suit tall driver". I couldn’t book the flight quickly enough and the rest is history.
There were only 67 Robnell Cobras ever built – mine is build number 19. Strangely enough, the one I was thrown the keys to all those years ago was build number 18.
My car has just 19,000km on the clock, yet I recently had it overhauled by Plus Four Automotive in Dandenong. It was a non-factory built car and runs a 6.3-litre stroked Cleveland with a Motec computer, Porsche fuel injection, working four-inch sidepipes, Truetrac limited-slip differential and a four-speed Top Loader gearbox.
So far it has proved extremely reliable, and with over 300hp at the rear wheels and weighing in at just over a tonne, it has ‘enough’ performance to match its aggressive looks.
Robnell Cobras have a reputation as superbly built replicas that are becoming collectable. A recent 7.0-litre version sold for $105,000 at Shannon’s late last year.
It’s not a daily driver, but for taking my son Jesse for a blast across to the beach or up the mountains on a sunny weekend, I can’t think of a better car.
Jesse certainly thinks so. Perhaps it’s even worthy of his Matchbox dreams…
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