Superformance is well-known for its Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40 “continuation“ cars, made under license from their respective trademark holders and offering enthusiasts modern re-creations of the scarce and valuable 1960s-era originals. Continuation Cobras have their supporters and detractors, but there is no denying that without these new replicas, few people will come close to experiencing what it’s like to own one of the historic Shelby originals, of which slightly fewer than 1,000 were made. And there’s much to appreciate about the freedom gained driving a brand-new car and not a fragile, priceless relic that brings with it a little angst to every outing.
The newest member in the Superformance stable is the MkIII-R roadster. Imagine a heavily restomodded Shelby Cobra that doubles down on the aggressive look and stance of a flare-fendered original, adding splitters, ground effects and conspicuous rear diffusors certain to stimulate lively discussion. The flamboyant side strakes evoke the (once) avant-garde styling of Ferrari’s Testarossa and Lamborghini’s 25th Anniversary Countach, and will appeal to those for whom “more is more.”
What buyers get when they take delivery is a rolling chassis—a completely assembled car ready for the buyer to install their drivetrain of choice. By selling a completed car without an engine and transmission, small-volume manufacturers legally circumvent the draconian and cost-prohibitive certification process required by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency for selling new models in the United States.
At about 2,450 pounds, with a Ford V8 drivetrain installed, the Superformance MkIII-R roadster has anywhere from a 1,000- to 2,000-pound weight advantage over many contemporary high-performance sports cars. Buyers can go with modern or heritage engines (add a quartet of Weber carburetors for real nostalgia), and installation kits are available for small-block Ford 302 and 351, or big-block 460 and 427/428 cubic inch engines.
Transmission choices are a Tremec 5-speed or original-style Ford top-loader 4-speed. Superformance enlisted V’s Performance Shop in Orange, Calif., to install a Roush Performance 427SR crate motor, Tremec TKO600 5-Speed transmission and fat matte-black side pipes into their first example, whose steel reinforced, hand-laid fiberglass body is finished in Atlantic Blue with Anthracite stripes. The vehicle’s fully independent front and rear suspension uses Bilstein coil-over shocks, and Wilwood 4-piston or optional 6-piston brakes sit behind 18-inch wheels.
Modern amenities include power steering and LED headlights, while the interior is nicely updated with Superformance electronic gauges that emulate the classic layout of the original dashboard. French-stitched leather seats and transmission tunnel are the most luxurious details of the otherwise purpose-built roadster, though air conditioning, custom sound systems and a hardtop are available options. Superformance plans to produce only 20 examples of the MKIII-R per year, each starting at $79,900.