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Hagerty Employee

A Cobra makes the case for preservation

Honest and original, Jim Taylor's 1964 289 Cobra bears the scuffs, scratches, dings, and cracks that 58 years can bring to an automobile. No doubt about it, this roadster is weathered, but I recently got to discover firsthand that it's also the embodiment of a preservation-oriented driver.
Pit Crew

It’s a “Real” Cobra for crying out loud there is no right or wrong answer

Enjoy it and lament the time when a common man could have owned one

The closest I ever came was Tiger and unfortunately I was able to keep it while spent time in SE Asia. Regardless the Cobra truly was the realization of the American Car Dream of all time
Intermediate Driver

"A car is only original once." Read Phil Hill's quote and remember that not all restoration costs are for parts and labor.
Intermediate Driver

I don't get the argument between preservation and restoration. What's the difference between a 1964 Cobra that has been properly maintained for the last 60 years and a car that's been neglected and then brought back up to snuff by performing that neglected maintenance today?
If it got scratched or damaged in 1966 it would have been fixed in 1966 vs doing the same repair in 2022. If the seat were damaged by mice or the body rusted in 1975 it would have been repaired in 1975 vs 2022. If the engine needed to be rebuilt in 1980 it would have been rebuilt in 1980 vs 2022.
Which car has been preserved vs restored?

FigueroB, yours above is the best question and summation I've seen in 48 years of fooling with vintage cars. Thank you.
New Driver

What a great article…
Thank you for taking us on this journey…
The comments were like a summer book you cannot stop reading..Wordsmiths all!
I never comment but I just wanted to thank you all for refreshing the small dream I hold around all the cars I love or lost!
Advanced Driver

There's no such thing as a perfect restoration, you can come close and some folks even consider restorations as molestations. There's something cool and honest about seeing the car as it lived its life.

I admit I would want to restore it to some degree. I would want the interior at the minimum to look better, especially those seats. A paint job would probably come next.
Advanced Driver

I dunno-this unrestored/Patinaed thing bothers me--Unrestored just means cars are going to continue rusting & falling apart---They won't be worth fixing--Much of this driving "Survivors" & these cars just won't be around for future generations--
Advanced Driver

People put entire new chassis under the svelte skin of a Lotus Elan all the time. I think that's just fine. I don't see anything wrong with freshening up the paint and interior either. Just so long as you keep driving it.

As others have noted this Cobra is not the best poster boy for so-called "preservation". It's simply too valuable, in any condition. But if its condition makes the next owner worry less about taking it for a spin then I'm all for leaving it as it is. If it was mine I'd fix those seats though, and stop the rust. To me preservation doesn't mean "fix it mechanically but leave it alone cosmetically." If means keeping the car drivable and dare I say presentable.
Intermediate Driver

I feel many people go too far when they restore a car. I hate seeing great sport cars looking better than new. They are beautiful...but are they ever driven? These cars were built for driving. Drive them. If you restore a car like the Cobra, fix the obvious. New seats, carpet. Get rid of the rust. Even get a new paint job, just not Concours level. The main thing, DRIVE IT!
Intermediate Driver takes years for a car to develop this kind of character.....and although I can appreciate a restoration,I will take them like this....
Intermediate Driver

What’s the point of owning a car like this? So you can have a million dollar daily driver? If you want fun driving, there are lots of newer cars that handle better, have more horsepower and look great.
Or is it the status of having a rare million dollar car that the average car nut cannot afford. I think it’s the latter.
New Driver

In 1964 my Dad and I went to Dean Moon's shop to buy a Cobra. Everything was okay until Dad phoned home to tell Mom; she killed the less than $7,000 purchase.

I often wonder if my Dad would have kept it or sold it and bought a new truck for his business.

To restore or not to restore, that is the question. How deep are your pockets? I have a C2 Vette, thought it would nice to have a fresh paint on it, it is pretty nice now. A really good paint shop said $30,000 big ones. Well, that's not going to happen especially since my second car was painted by Earl Shiebe in 1960s for $19.95, any car any color. My 40 Chevy looked great. Fortunately, I am not a purist, can't afford to be. If you have the money and want it restored, do it, it is your car and don't worry about what others think. No, I would not take my Vette to Earl, or Maco, I would most likely do it myself since the body is perfect. Nah, that's not going to happen either, at 80, just going to drive it and let somebody in the future worry about it.
Intermediate Driver

Nice Cobra, but there is an earlier unrestored long-time owner Cobra now on display at the Cobra Experience in Martinez, Ca. It had been tucked away in the original owner's barn for decades until he passed and the car was placed on display.
Intermediate Driver

There's nothing I hate more than trailer Queens, often over-restored, so to please Concours d'Élégance crowds of millionnaires. It's Ok, in the case of early unique luxury cars that would'nt be affordable by the common man anyway.
In the case of this car, I'd make sure that the basic mechanicles are updated, not modified, to make it drivable and enjoyable. As for it's looks, at least the engine bay, the interior is clean, buy also repair the torn leather, As often Iain Tyrrel's guys do on on clents cars. As for the body, a few color matching touch-ups on rusted parts and a good polish and wax.
That's it. I could'nt drive an as dirty car as a garbage bin. No way.
Pit Crew

I have become quite fond of older cars being in a state of arrested decay. Not everything needs to be a showstopper. Cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed. Patina is a nice thing. And just as it is when it comes to people, scars just mean a life was lived and there are stories to be told.

I prefer my cars to drive and look nice. I take pride in my cars, especially a Cobra, of course I thought it was ridiculous not to restore the Bullit Mustang. I enjoy washing and waxing to keep it looking nice. I would be embarrassed driving that awesome Cobra around looking like that. Maybe we should do the same for our homes, lawns, furniture etc My house isn't a dump, its unrestored.

So many barn find homes in the city I grew up in!


You made me laugh SJ.

Advanced Driver

There is a big difference between upkeep and restoration. This car needs paint, seat repair, and something done with those wheels, as upkeep. It does not appear to need anything further.