Superformance Mk III is featured in the September 2008 issue of Classis
Motorsports, a respected journal featuring vintage sports cars.
The article "Replica vs Real" compares the Superformance Mk III to an original 427 Cobra. The coverage of Mk III SP 218 is quite positive. The complete article is recommended for your reading pleasure. An excerpt with comments about SP 218 follows.
See ClassicMotorsports.net for additional information on the article, back issues, and subscription.
Click here to download a pdf of the article.
A Worthy Successor
A quick look through our Superformance's logbook shows that this car was built to run, not simply to be admired. It has covered about 42,000 miles in 11 years, with 3000 of those miles spent on track.
Owner Mike Stenhouse lives in Davidson, North Carolina, and has run at several East Coast tracks: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Virginia International Raceway, Carolina Motorsports Park and even Lime Rock Park up in Connecticut.
Interestingly, Mike doesn't own a trailer and drives the Superformance to these track events. Only once did the car need help getting home, and that was only because Mike zinged the engine. He doesn't even change the setup once he arrives at the track: it's a straight unpack-and-go operation.
If the Superformance is a copy of a real 427 Cobra, then it should feel the same, right? Well, yes and no. As genuine Cobra owner Jim Maxwell was quick to admit, well-built replicas like this one are actually faster, safer and more fun to drive than the originals.
While Jim's words ring true, there were certainly more similarities than differences between these two cars. The overall experiences were just so close—the view from the cockpit, the music coming from the pipes and the way the top of the doors made the perfect armrest.
Then some small differences cropped up-like just how well the Superformance is built compared to the original. While the real Cobra is a pretty tight old car, the 11-year-old Superformance felt brand-new. Not a squeak, rattle or flaw could be found. Credit for that has to go to the modern South African factory that produces these cars.
Unlike the originals, the Superformance cars come as rolling chassis, leaving the owners to choose their own powerplants. Mike went with a potent small-block Ford that, appropriately enough, displaces 427 cubic inches.
The engine is based on a four-bolt main Ford Racing aluminum block; boring it to 4.125 inches and running a 4-inch stroke delivers the magic number. It also features a forged steel crank, forged steel rods, forged pistons and David Bamber-ported Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads. This engine puts out 550 horsepower on the dyno.
"The drivetrain was selected for maximum acceleration without excessive wheelspin, road course performance, exciting back road cruising and relaxed interstate cruising," the car owner explains. "First gear provides a brisk but controlled 2.4-second sprint to 52 mph. Second and third are good road course gears, with fourth for straightway speeds. Fourth is also right on the money for back road blasting. Fifth provides relaxed and reasonably economical interstate cruising."
The Superformance was noticeably quicker off the line than the real Cobra, and once underway it was no contest—a modern chassis and a big boost in horsepower gave the replica a huge advantage. Our Superformance was also running a more leisurely final drive—a 3.08:1 vs. the 3.73:1 found in the real Cobra. If the gear ratios were equal, the performance gap would have been even wider.
Both cars demonstrated similar handling and braking traits, although the Superformance had a heavier steering feel. On the other hand, its chassis felt better composed over imperfect pavement. And despite the nearly 100-degree temperatures of our test day, the Superformance's cockpit never got hot.
The replica's do-it-all manners are certainly hard to ignore. "Imagine a back road sprint to the Rockingham quarter-mile drag strip and ripping off the FTD on street tires with the only preparation being taking the top out of the trunk," Mike explains, "then a 1300-mile vacation with spouse to the Gulf Coast of Alabama; then a four-day weekend running the Tail of the Dragon with serious mountain road work there and back; then some hot laps around the VIR North Course at SAAC 31—all in a three-month period without even changing the tire pressure."