The Corvette, particularly the Stingray models, have often been accused of being the vehicular embodiment of a man's unmentionables. While there might be something to that, the Corvette is a withering prude when compared to the Superformance Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. If the Stingray is the middle-aged guy who's always thinking about sex, the Daytona Coupe is the guy who's always getting it on. With multiple partners. On the same night. The Stingray is Bob in sales. The Daytona Coupe is Ron Jeremy. All it needs is a mustache.
Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
Even though it's only got two major curves – the hood and the cockpit – the Daytona Coupe is a fantastically beautiful car. It's a loose, rather than exact, copy of the race car; an artistic interpretation designed, like the race car, by Peter Brock and Bob Negstad. The founder of Superformance, Jim Price, wanted a street version of the race car, so to make it more palatable it was stretched by three inches and given slightly larger dimensions overall.
Unlike the Superformance GT40's steel monocoque, this car's skeleton is a steel tubular space frame wrapped in a glass composite body. The suspension is independent, unequal A-arms front and rear – also designed by the braintrust behind the original Cobra and GT40 – and employs Bilstein coilovers and H&R springs.
As usual, you can order the engine you want that's based on Ford's Windsor 351 block (Superformance delivers a rolling chassis), but the one we sampled came with a Roush V8 tuned to about 500 horsepower and mated to Superformance's standard aluminum crossflow radiator and oil cooler with dual electric fans and braided lines.
We know the original car that it's based on actually raced in the '60s, but the Daytona Coupe is all about the '70s to us (perhaps because that original car was ahead of its time?). In fact, it is a Stargate straight to open-necked rayon shirts, hairy chests and Born to be Wild (another '60s reference that we're pulling into the '70s).
Open the door and, if you want, remove the 14-inch, three-spoke steering wheel and drop in. The cabin is fitted, cozy, but not at all uncomfortable or claustrophobic. There's a little more room than in the GT40, but there's less glass so it feels more intimate, despite being more spacious. It's also got one more inch of ground clearance, which feels like an entire foot.
The center console contains a suite of beautiful Stewart Warner gauges, only a couple of which you'll need to regularly pay attention to. The toggles control ancillaries like the wipers, fans and headlights. Directly in front of you are just two dials: the 8,000-rpm tach and the speedometer. The wide center tunnel supports the crooked, six-speed gearshift and an upright parking brake. It's a simple, crystal clear and gorgeous cabin. Interestingly, the windows are manual, but the car comes with remote door locks and an immobilizer to thrust it towards the end of the 20th century.
Put the little metal key in its slot, turn and usher life into the motor. The sound is full, compelling, but not overbearing. You can have your choice of exhaust – working sidepipes or a rear-exit setup – and while the Daytona's outcry is on the loud side, it's not as tweaked out as the Shelby Super Snake nor the Roush 427R, and nowhere near as hackle-raising as the Eleanor Mustang.
The Daytona uses a Tremec T56 transmission for shifting duties, which has seen service in everything from the Dodge Ram to the Aston Martin Vanquish. It's a fine shifter with positive action and comfortable throws, which came in handy as the Daytona Coupe is banging on the door of Mr. Go Fast. The Daytona weighs about 700 pounds more than the GT40, which you'll only notice it if you drive the two back-to-back, but that still makes it just 2,910 pounds – about the same weight as a Volkswagen Golf. Only the Daytona has a far superior suspension, about 250 more horsepower and 300 pound-feet of additional torque, along with 10-inch Dunlops out back stretched over 18-inch wheels.
That's a lot of power in a well sorted chassis on a lot of rubber. That gets the white stripes to highway speeds in less than four seconds and on to a 200-mile-per-hour top speed.
But we didn't really give the car a beating, neither in straight line runs nor through turns. To be quite honest, we didn't want to. It felt so damn good to just relax and enjoy the car, to leave a light with a long, powerful pull through first, like a deep draw from a Marlboro. It felt so damn good just to cruise, frankly, knowing how good we looked behind the wheel, imagining what we'd be saying to Roller Girl were she lucky enough to be riding with us, and wondering where we could get a chocolate leather jacket with fringed sleeves at that time of the afternoon.
Sure, we worked in a few downshift-and-peel-away shenanigans to keep the blood flowing, but if Superformance owner Lance Stander hadn't been in the car we'd still be driving, probably hitting Halifax right about now. We never wanted to get out.
This is a GT that epitomizes the word "grand."
We concede, however, that the Superformance Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe might not be for everyone, in the same way Ron Jeremy isn't for everyone. Figure the entire car – rolling chassis, engine, transmission and suspension – will put you back $90,000. There are obviously a lot of other cars you can get for that money. But if you're the kind of person who's ready to put it all out there, this Daytona Coupe takes its place at the front of the line. Once you take it home, all you need is a mustache.
Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.