It’s gotten easier than ever in recent years to convert classic cars, even exotic ones, into EVs. And with electric crate motor availability growing every day, the same also applies to kit cars and vintage replicas. That includes one of the most iconic and most-replicated classic sports cars, the Shelby Cobra. Not only has UK builder AC gone electric, but now US Cobra replica builder Superformance is testing out its own spark-powered snake. And from the looks of things, this charged-up Cobra has plenty of bite.
The Superformance MKIII-E ditches traditional Shelby Cobra 427 power for an electric Tesla Model S heart
In Superformance parlance, ‘MKIII’ is code for the California-based company’s officially-licensed Shelby Cobra 427 replica. And though buyers can install other engines in their kit cars, the most common powerplant is, naturally, a 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Ford V8. While the original 427 wasn’t quite as powerful as period figures suggested, modern crate versions can genuinely crack the 400-hp barrier.
In that context, the electric Superformance MKIII-E might seem like a less-threatening Cobra. After all, it doesn’t have a roaring V8 under the hood. However, it has something just as good: a Tesla Model S P100D motor over its rear axle.
In the Model S, that motor makes 503 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque, MotorTrend says. As of this writing, Superformance is still dialing the MKIII-E in, so final horsepower and torque figures aren’t available. However, while MT says the motor makes 405 hp, Motor1 claims it makes up to 650 hp. If that latter figure is accurate, that makes this electric Cobra replica more powerful than even the Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake. The 1500-lb-ft torque claim is wheel torque, though, not motor torque.
However, the Superformance MKIII-E isn’t just as or more powerful than a gas-powered Shelby Cobra. Even with a 32-kWh (31.2-kWh usable capacity) lithium-ion battery pack under the hood, the electric Cobra is 100 pounds lighter than a standard MKIII. It also rides on Nitto NT555R street-legal drag tires. Furthermore, it has a custom-tuned version of the standard fully-independent coil-over suspension as well as power-assisted four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes.
Superformance’s electric Shelby Cobra replica has less of the sound, but all the fury
Apart from the electric powertrain-specific touches, the Superformance MKIII-E is no different from the company’s other Cobra replicas. There are no ABS, traction control, stability control, airbags, or windows. The prototype car even lacks the optional roll hoops.
However, though it has a mechanical handbrake, it lacks both hill-holding assist and a true ‘park’ mode for the single-speed automatic. And the wood-rimmed steering wheel lacks power assistance, too. The MKIII-E isn’t a ‘traditional’ EV, either, Car and Driver says.
One might argue that, without that V8 burbling away from side-exit exhausts, that the Superformance MKIII-E isn’t a ‘real’ Shelby Cobra anymore. The lack of noise and smell might deter some classic car aficionados, Car and Driver muses. However, it’s worth noting that Superformance only developed this electric Cobra replica because owners expressed intense interest, MotorTrend reports. And while the MKIII-E doesn’t have a V8 soundtrack, it doesn’t need one to be a total thrill.
For one, this is Superformance’s fastest Cobra replica. It goes 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, 1.5 seconds faster than the 427-powered version, Motor1 says. Furthermore, the motor is allegedly limited to 1500 lb-ft of wheel torque. That’s also why the company fitted upgraded tires—the standard ones couldn’t handle the output, Car and Driver explains. In a straight line, the MKIII-E electric Cobra “is an absolute monster,” MotorTrend reports.
But while nothing is stopping you from spinning or sliding this monster—apart from skill and respect—it won’t try to cook or deafen you. There’s no ridiculous heat wafting from the engine bay or the transmission tunnel like in a regular Shelby Cobra. The tunnel is still wide, but no clutch means more legroom, Motor1 notes. There’s no exhaust note, but that’s perfect for those with neighbors and nearby decibel-monitoring cops. And no carbs make it easier for anyone to get in and drive.
So, no, the Superformance MKIII-E isn’t a regular Shelby Cobra 427 replica. But it bites just as hard.
How much does a MKIII-E cost?
As of this writing, Superformance is still finalizing a few parts on the MKIII-E. The final version, for example, will have physical transmission buttons, rather than a touchscreen display. Also, the company wants to bump the range from 100 to 150-200 miles and give the car Level 2 charger compatibility.
In addition, the MKIII-E uses the same chassis and body as the V8-powered model. And because there’s a backlog of MKIII orders, Superformance estimates the electric Cobra won’t be ready until September 2022.
That does give you more time to save up, though, which you’ll need because this kit car isn’t cheap. Once you add the cost of the engine, paint, and other components, a regular 427 MKIII costs around $110K, MotorTrend reports. The MKIII-E, though, will likely cost around $180K. That makes it a bargain compared to a real original Cobra, but there are cheaper kit alternatives.
Still, if you were worried that an electric Cobra couldn’t compare to the V8 version, don’t be. This snake’s fangs are as sharp as ever.
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