2nd time around

2nd Time around – light-weight Side-Oiler

With my second build, I was able to ‘step the game up’, just a little bit. I had placed an order for a Bear side-oiler block but was having issues with long lead times. I was fortunate enough to find a new, un-used Shelby aluminum block.

I combined the lite-weight block with the other aluminum pieces and ended up with a complete engine weighing in less than 450 lbs. 

The new TrickFlow aluminum heads were a pleasant surprise. Ported from the factory, they should be good for at least 600HP. 

I learned on the first car, the pedigree really gets boosted by being a side-oiler. No doubt, it is at the top of the heap. I included the top of the line internals with it – there was no expense spared on this build.

If it’s a 427, it’s gotta be a FE !

This is the first build information, left here for those who may wish to learn other ways to keep the period correct look

As I began my research, I asked a number of different owners if they had any regrets in their build or car. A couple comments that I got back steered me to my choice of engines.

  • 1) From the small block guys, it was common to hear, “I wish I had gone up to 427 so I so say it’s a 427 when someone asks what’s in it”
  • From those that knew Cobra’s, they stressed the use of a ‘FE’ block was more important than the actual cubic inches. It would give the actual appearance of the classic Cobra.

Enter the dilemma. My budget wouldn’t allow a 427 FE Side Oiler, the classic Cobra engine. Not only are the blocks scarce and expensive, anytime you order a part and say it’s for a 427, the price TRIPLES! Parts for the 390 & 428, both “FE’s” are considerably less and much more readily available. I decided to go with the 390 when I found a couple blocks for next to nothing.

But as I began putting together all the pieces, I still struggled with the Cubic Inch thing. The badge on the side of the car says “427”, not 390. As I built my budget projections, I found that the cost of a stroker kit for the 390 was only a few dollars more than reworking the pieces I had. That would get me over the size hang-up. The fact that most if not all ’66 Cobras were built with the 428 motor made it even better.

It’s a slight stretch on originality, but my car has a FE that has 431 cubic inches, same size as a 428 with a clean up bore job. Sounds the same, runs the same, and as a side benefit, the rotating assembly is internally balanced.

The links to the right give a little more details and experiences with the various components. Shortly after I chose this configuration, I found the website of Doc Frohmader. His credentials among the “FE” group are pretty high. Seems a few years ago, he built a Cobra motor with the exact same details. It was really comforting to learn my “wild idea” had been validated by someone who knows about these things. Check out the site www.webrodder.com and more specifically, these articles about the FE motor.

Oh, and before you say it, I know the tri-power setup is not period correct for the Cobra. But the WOW factor it provides more than makes up for it.