Know this: I don’t have real Shelby Cobra money. Neither does Ashton and neither does his dad, Lance Stander, CEO of Superformance, maker of this Carroll-Shelby-approved replica. And know this: if you feel that replicas are just the bastardization of original, you’re right. A replica isn’t an original. And you’re wrong. Replicas aren’t bastards. And if they are, finally, know this: driving a Cobra on a Sunday morning through carving and underpopulated roads is the birthright of every person born in the era of the automobile. You need this sensation. There’s some sub-cortical connection to this exhaust sound and the rumble that envelops you in a embryonic rush of sensory satisfaction. I could stay here all day. And Lance Stander believes that you should have a chance to, too.
He has customers who have lived their whole life dreaming of owning the dream, and now they’ve sold their car, sold their wives’ car, sold their kids’ car and are buying this and dammit, if they only get to drive it from 68 to 72 that’s four years in the greatest ride of their life.
So. Sticker price for a replica Shelby Cobra: $84,670. That’s for a black Shelby Cobra MKIII Sports Coupe with a Ford Racing 427CID Windsor 535 horsepower engine and a Tremec TKO600 5-speed manual gearbox. That’s for a hand-laminated fiberglass body, side exhaust pipes, stainless steel roll bar, a Moto-Lita wood steering wheel, Smith gauges, Lucas switches, leather seats and a carpeted interior and trunk. $84,670 to own a version of one of the greatest American sports car ever. That, for you and for me, is within reach. And though Superformance has customers who are filling an empty spot in the back corner of their acre-sized garage, he also has customers who have lived their whole life dreaming of owning the dream, and now they’ve sold their car, sold their wives’ car, sold their kids’ car and are buying this and dammit, if they only get to drive it from 68 to 72 that’s four years in the greatest ride of their life.
After driving his rumbling beauty, I talked to Lance Stander, the man bringing back the greatest American race cars, about his motivations for reviving these iconic automobiles (did we mention he makes GT40’s, too?).
When I saw how massive the companies were in the US and I saw the challenge I’d be up against, I decided, well maybe I’d want to go and try different fields. And I heard about a Superformance dealer in California that wasn’t performing, and Superformance offered me the franchise. Initially, I wasn’t interested, until I found out what Cobras sold for in the US. Even 19 years ago, Cobras were selling in the $50,000 range.
That’s the emphasis of Superformance — to not only build replicas but actual, licensed continuations.
So I said, “Well okay, this might make sense.” And we started as a dealer in Costa Mesa and we called it Hillbank. Hillbank is the company that my dad started in South Africa in 1977, on the hill next to the bank. And he called it Hillbank. And it was a dealer for high-end cars.
So in 1999 we opened in Costa Mesa, California. And in 2004, HiTech, the factory in South Africa that owned Superformance USA, wanted to sell distribution rights. And initially I negotiated the distribution rights for Superformance. And then they said, “Well, if you want to own the whole lot — tooling, cars, everything — you can. So we agreed on a price and I bought it.
But I wanted to change the way Superformance was positioned. All we had was a replica of the Daytona Coupe. And I wanted to get away from the replica idea. We started talking to Carroll in 2003 and 2004. And part of the deal when I bought Superformance was that I wanted to negotiate a deal with Carroll to build the Shelby Cobras. To build a car that’s not a replica, but a continuation.
And now that’s the emphasis of Superformance — to not only build replicas but actual, licensed continuations.
I love the ’60s car because the shape of the Cobra is a shaping that will last forever, same with the 911 and 308 Ferraris. And on a ’60s car you have a big engine, body and very little else, and you get a real sensation when you drive one.
Ours are unique and exclusive, and they don’t depreciate. After a couple years they increase in value.
That’s not the case with our car. Ours are unique and exclusive, and they don’t depreciate. After a couple years they increase in value.
And, you know, that normally strikes a chord in them and they’re like, “Okay. This guy is making a point. I’m no longer 40, I’m not 50 either, I’m now 60; am I still going to be driving at 70? How do I know? So let me get that car out and enjoy it.”