More Than 427: Superformance’s Shelby Cobra Summons Godzilla

Few cars have been immortalized in kit car and replica form as the Shelby Cobra, especially the 427 version. The sports car’s legend looms so large that it inspired a modern successor, the original Dodge Viper. But even icons can be eclipsed. And with the help of Ford’s ‘Godzilla’ engine, the Superformance MKIII-R might do just that to the Cobra 427.

The Superformance MKIII-R has an aero arsenal—and now, the Ford 7.3-liter ‘Godzilla’ V8

A turquoise-with-silver-stripes Superformance MKIII-R drives down the road
Superformance MKIII-R front 3/4 | Superformance

Although California-based Superformance builds a variety of replicas, it’s arguably best-known for its Cobras. And these aren’t just homages, either; Superformance is officially licensed by Shelby American, Gear Patrol reports. The company not only builds Shelby continuations but its own roadsters, too. The MKII is based on the original Shelby Cobra 289, while the MKIII references the Cobra 427. And then there’s the Superformance MKIII-R.

Technically, the Superformance MKIII-R is still a MKIII. That means it offers fully-independent suspension, a limited-slip differential, four-wheel vented Wilwood disc brakes, a TIG-welded frame, an oil cooler, and adjustable Bilstein coil-overs.

A red-with-black-stripes Superformance MKIII-R with Godzilla V8 inside a dealership
Superformance MKIII-R with Godzilla V8 | Hillbank Motor Sports

However, the MKIII-R has more aero features than the MKIII, including a functional front splitter and rear diffuser, Automobile reports. It also has a redesigned hood scoop, functional fender scallops and vents, and new electronic gauges, Motor1 reports. Plus, Superformance offers a ‘Big Brake Upgrade’ for the MKIII-R, along with custom sway bars and American racing wheels.

But the biggest difference is what’s under the hood. Superformance sells the MKIII and MKIII-R as rolling chassis, Autoblog explains. That means, while the roadsters come fully-assembled, you have to pick out an engine and transmission, then get it installed. And among the recommended options was a Ford 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 with a five-speed manual.

The engine bay of a red-with-black-stripes Superformance MKIII-R with a Ford 7.3-liter Godzilla V8
Engine bay of Superformance MKIII-R with Godzilla V8 | Hillbank Motor Sports

Now, though, that’s been supplanted. Together with California-based shop V’s Performance, Superformance created a MKIII-R with Ford’s 7.3-liter ‘Godzilla’ V8, The Drive reports. In standard form, the V8 makes 430 hp and 475 lb-ft. However, it’s possible to boost it to make 600 hp “with basic mods,” Road & Track reports. And with a supercharger, the ‘Godzilla’ V8 can make up to 1450 hp, R&T reports.

How does the Superformance MKIII-R compare with a ‘real’ Shelby Cobra 427?

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Superformance hasn’t specified how much power the Godzilla-equipped MKIII-R makes. But it’s worth pointing out that the MKIII previously offered a Roush-tuned 7.0-liter V8 with 527 hp, Top Gear reports. And even if ‘only’ has 430 hp, the MKIII-R should weigh around 2600 pounds.

The original Shelby Cobra 427 is about 100 pounds lighter, Car and Driver reports. But its 7.0-liter V8 might be weaker. Back in 1965, Car and Driver claimed the V8 made 485 hp and 480 lb-ft. However, that appears to be a ‘gross,’ rather than a ‘net’ rating, MotorTrend reports, which was standard practice back then. Using conversion formulas supplied by Hagerty, the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 was likely putting out closer to 340-345 hp. Still, that was good enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds, Car and Driver reports.

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However, the Superformance MKIII-R is likely even faster. Top Gear clocked the Roush-tuned MKIII’s 0-60 mph time at 4 seconds. And compared to the original Shelby Cobra 427, the MKIII-R has better brakes and suspension. Plus, a significantly stiffer chassis, ClassicCars.com reports, and a roomier interior. Oh, and even though it’s lighter than the Cobra 427, the MKIII-R still offers power steering and LED lighting, Top Gear reports.

How much does the replica cost compared to the real thing?

Getting a Superperformance MKIII-R with the Godzilla V8 won’t be cheap. Without a powertrain, the MKIII-R starts at $79,900. But the version built by V’s Performance stickers at just under $135k, The Drive reports. And if you want one, you’ll have to act quick, because Superformance only makes 20 MKIII-Rs per year.

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However, that price isn’t far off the cost of a Shelby American continuation Cobra 427. A fiberglass-bodied example, minus the engine and transmission, starts at $95,995. And even used examples sell for over $100,000 on Bring a Trailer.

So, as weird as this is to type, a Cobra with a Godzilla engine is kind of a bargain.

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