This article & photos by Joe Greeves, the editor of Kit Car Illustrated.
Bill Kemp drove his pride and joy on a 1,600-mile round trip to participate in Run and Gun.
West Coast Chassis
The interior is an eye-catcher, with buckskin leatherette appointments and a matching, easy-to-raise top. The compartment looks classy with is VDO gauges and woodgrain Cobra Steering Wheel on a tilt column.
Mixing Ford with Chevy, Kemp has a 300-cid Chevy engine under the hood, connected to a 1991 700R4 automatic transmission.
|Bill Kemp enjoys all the seasons at his home in Fenton Falls, Ontario, Canada. So, it was natural for him to want a car that was just as versatile as the beautiful Canadian climate around him. Since Cobras have always fascinated him and he is a licensed automotive technician, Kemp decided he would build his own. The car pictured here has become an official member of the family, happily residing in the Kemp garage for the past 10 years.
Kemp chose the West Coast Cobra because he wanted a larger, roomier car that would be exciting to drive, yet still capable of hauling a trunk full of luggage. It also had to be easy and reliable enough so that his wife could enjoy it, too. The 96-inch long rolling chassis cost Kemp about $25,000 back in 1990.
West Coast uses a tubular steel frame with a steel and foam backbone. Crumple zones are designed in, and the chassis is equipped with a race-legal, 25 gallon fuel cell. A four-bar, trailing arm rear suspension with coil overs, controls the movement of the 9-inch Ford rear. He added Locker 4.10 gears to the Detroit Locker differential to ensure neck-straining performance. The Mustang II front suspension benefits from Saginaw power steering and Delco gas shocks. Stopping power comes from Howe calipers up front and girling discs in the rear. Sway bars front and rear keep the car flat in the turns.
The current 300-horsepower, 1995 350-cid Chevy engine is the latest of three engines Kemp has had in the car. It's essential stock except for the Paxton blower that provides extra boost when Kemp needs it.
Because of the high parasitic loads, Kemp removes the blower drivebelt for around-town driving. An electromagnetic clutch that automatically disengages is a scheduled addition. The motor is connected to a 1991 700-R4 automatic transmission. When we noted that the Chevy was a bit of a departure from the standard Cobra powerplant, Kemp reminded us with a smile that "Carroll Shelby went to Chevy first when he was building his original Cobra."
Kemp also said "The Chevrolet is particularly suited to kit car applications since it offers so much flexibility in fuel and electronic management. Flexibility should be the key, rather than absolute authenticity." We're sure Kemp's extensive GM background also influenced his decision.
In addition to being a qualified mechanic, Kemp also spent the last 20 years as an automotive instructor for General Motors, and Centennial College in Toronto. After mounting the West Coast body, Kemp taught a class in fiberglass preparation and got a little help from his students in readying the gel coat car for paint. His crew must have received an "A" because the 10-year-old gold-and-white paint job still looked great when we saw it at last year's Run and Gun. Details on this more-plush-than-usual Cobra included a buckskin leatherette interior with matching, easy-to-raise top, VDO gauges, woodgrain Cobra wheel on a tilt column, pulse wipers, daytime running lights, and a remotely operated 150-watt Sony stereo. Kemp uses the removable plexiglas side windows when he wants to warm or cool the air-conditioned interior.
The completed car, which took Kemp about $40,000 and four months to finish, seems, at times, more like a high-speed Cadillac than a Cobra. But, it has proven to be a versatile addition to the family. Kemp's wife, Doreen, uses the car to get to tennis and to work. Together, they drove it to Run and Gun 1999 from Ontario, (800 miles, one-way!), competed at the event, drove the road course in credible time, and drove it home again without incident. How's that for versatility?
The car's 10-year-old gold-and-white paint job still looks like new.
|When it comes to buying on of these Cobra's for yourself, what's it all cost? Well, as you can see from the wide variety of engines available, you have to decide that on your own. How much of a good thing do you want? How deep is your wallet?
The first step, no matter what you decide, is to
call West Coast and book a Visit.
|Back to Home Page|
|Back to Previous Magazine Article||Continue on to Finished Car Article|
West Coast prides ourselves in producing the safest Component car available today. For more information ask for our 40+ page brochure (including pricing) on West Coast dream machines by contacting us by phone at
or E-mail us email@example.com with your complete mailing address