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Cobra fever
By Carol Sponagle

In 1993, Denny and Sandy Dickman retired, sold their possessions and their house on Lake Springfield and launched a 10-year ocean voyage in a 50-foot Kadey Krogen yacht. In 2005, having lived enough of the nautical life, the couple bought another house near Lake Springfield and again settled into regular life. 

Being landlubbers once more meant the Dickmans had to make a fresh start. They needed everything from furniture and appliances to cars and lawnmowers. Denny, a former car mechanic, race car driver and motorcycle racer, wasted no time making his choice of new possessions.

He found a 1965 Cobra replica and bought it.

"I was just looking for a hobby. We didn't own a car for 10 years. I always was a car person and desired having a Cobra, ever since the '60s," Denny says.

"It was mostly completed," he says, "... just finished up odds and ends. It had no miles - had never been driven."

Denny put his mechanical knowledge to use fixing up the car to his liking, but Sandy wasn't left out.

"Sandy's the chief polisher," says Denny.

"I do all the detailing when we go to shows," Sandy says.

Since purchasing the car, the Dickmans have joined nearly every car club in the area and attend numerous shows.

"When we got the car," Sandy says, "there was a car show in Pawnee. We drove down there, met some people and got into some car clubs. It was our first show, and we won first place in our class plus Queen's Choice."

"We have a total of about 70 trophies now," Denny says. "Fifty of those are first place."

The Cobra is a winner, but the Dickmans aren't afraid to take it for a spin when they feel like it. 

Denny says, "If you can't drive it and play with it, why have it?" 

You might catch Denny taking Sandy or one of his grandchildren out for a drive, but he won't return to his racing days, despite the Cobra's ability to run close to 170 mph. 

"It's been certified for racing, but we're not going to race," he says. Still, his old racing number is painted on the side panel of the car.




Debuting in 1962, the Cobra was conceived by world-class race car driver and auto designer Carroll Shelby with hopes of achieving top race car performance over competitors like Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar and Corvette. 

Auto Carriers in Great Britain built approximately 1,000 Cobras from 1962 to 1968. The aluminum frames, chassis and undercarriage components were built by AC, and then shipped to Shelby's California plant, where AC-supplied six-cylinder engines and transmissions were installed.

Since AC was getting out of the business of engine supply, Shelby struck a deal with Ford for an American V8, and the Cobra "muscle car" was born. In 1964, the Cobra team took first in its division at LeMans and continued to dominate racetracks on both continents into the decade. 

The last original Cobra was manufactured in 1968, but since the late 1980s, Shelby and associated companies have been building "continuation cars" modeled after the original Shelby Cobra. There are more than 40,000 replicas being driven today.

- Source: www.shelbycsxinfo.com




Denny and Sandy Dickman's replica 1965 Carroll Shelby (or A.C.) Cobra


  • Body and frame by Factory Five Racing
  • Three-link suspension and steering
  • Guardsman blue and Wimbledon white
  • 2,068 pounds
  • Auto meter gauges
  • BF Goodrich tires


Engine block, 1989 Mustang


  • 347 cubic inches
  • 411 rear wheel horsepower - dyno tested
  • Scat crank and rods
  • Forged pistons
  • Canton Road Racing oil pan and main support system
  • COMP cams 




  • Hardened push rods
  • Roller rocker arms


Edelbrock aluminum heads

Ford racing parts (from Factory Five Racing)


  • Cobra intake manifold
  • Cobra ECU
  • 30-pound injectors
  • Cobra high-performance clutch
  • Racing aluminum radiator


Ceramic coated headers and side pipes

Transmission: 5-speed Tremec



  • 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds
  • Estimated top speed 155-160 mph
  • Certified for racing by the Sports Car Club of America



Story published Friday, May 6, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 3 )

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