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Editors Note:
Ok, the first thing you have to ask yourself is "how much money am I willing to spend for a used Cobra", and what my usage is going to be. Now, by usage, I mean a either a daily driver, weekend cruiser, show car/trailer queen, 1/4 mile drag racer, road racer, or any combination of the above. Once you have set your budget and have a pretty good idea of what you want to initially spend, your next goal is to find the right car for you. Whether your spending $22,000, or $150,000 should not matter at this point, as I've personally seen beautiful, well built cars at $22,000, and some truly horrible cars with over $100,000 in to the build.

Your qualifications:
Know your strengths and weaknesses when shopping for a used Cobra, if you know bodywork, and not the mechanicals, take along someone who has a greater mechanical ability than yourself. Vice versa if your strengths are in the mechanical end of things, and not the cosmetics. Two sets (or more) of eyes are always better than one.

If your going to see a cobra in person:

What to look for:
Fit: How does the body sit on the chassis, do the doors, hood, trunk all line up?

Finish: How is the paint, are there runs, drips, sags. Does the paint have a nice shine to it, or does it need to be buffed out or stripped and repainted?

Interior condition: Does the interior show a lot of aging, do the seats need to be recovered.

Mechanical: Are there any leaks or drips under the car? What about the overall appearance, does the car look like it was well taken care of, or does it look like it was ridden hard and abused.

Engine: Again, any leaks or fluid drips, how does it sound (this can be tough on a car such as the Cobra). Check the engine warm, cold, at partial throttle and at idle. Make sure to check the temperature gauge once the car is warmed up and at idle. Also check to make sure the thermostatically controlled fan (if so equipped) kicks in when it is supposed to.

Transmission: Take the car out for a road test if possible (don't expect to let the seller to allow you to drive it), does the clutch work properly, does the transmission shift smoothly through the gears. Check for leaks here as well.

Rear End: Does the rear end clunk, leak fluids (check behind rear rims for signs of fluid, along with the front and rear of the differential housing)

Suspension: Check the bushings, do they look cracked and worn out, if so, factor in replacements to your costs. What about the shocks (coil overs or ???), if you ask the seller to push down on each corner, watch the rebound, if they bounce forever, then expect to replace them. If the car is equipped with coil over shocks, set the car on an even surface and see if the car sits level or not. if so, then the shocks do not have to be adjusted, if not, then expect a few hours getting things right.

Brakes: If you place your hand on the front disks (do this before the car has been driven), can you feel any grooves in the disk itself? Does the brake pedal feel firm when your sitting in the car, what about on the test drive, ask the seller to do at least one hard braking maneuver so that you can tell whether the brakes are adjusted correctly for the car. Some cars will have a combination of disks and drums, others will have four wheel disk brakes. If set up correctly, a disk/drum set up will work for all but the most extreme usage (IE: heavy road racing, endurance racing, etc).

Wheels: Are the wheels balanced, bolted on, or held on with knock off's? Bolt on wheels are a matter of personal preference, if you like what is on the car, great, if not, factor in a replacement some time down the road. Knock off's should be checked to make sure they are tight, if the knock offs and safety wired on the car, that shows a level of attention worthy of a good owner/seller....

Tires: Are the sidewalls cracked, are the DOT approved, radials or biased ply? What about the sizing, do the fronts both match? What about the rears?

Electrical system: Do all of the lights function, hi beams, lo beams, turn signals, brake lights, horn, etc? What about all of the gauges, do they read correctly?

If your buying a Cobra sight unseen:

Use the above as a reference guide as to what questions need to be asked. If the owner is forthcoming with detailed answers, then you can feel a little more comfortable in dealing with them. if the answers are a little more ambiguous and vague, then perhaps the owners is trying to hide something, or does not really have any mechanical ability or qualifications to answer the questions above..If this is the case, and your still interested in the car, pay to have the car professionally looked at by a qualified inspection service.

In closing, most of the above is all based on common sense. Don't let your emotions get involved in the decision whether to purchase one car or another. Also don't let other so called "experts" sway you to this brand or that, after all, it's your money, not theirs that your planning to spend..Finally, if you need assistance, or don't understand something fully, feel free to ask questions.

If you have read this far down, I do hope you found this FAQ posting educational.


Yours In Fords,

Bill S.
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