Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and few cars have inspired as many tributes, spin-offs, replicas, and kit cars as the Shelby Cobra. At one time there were no fewer than a dozen different companies producing Shelby Cobra kit cars, and today there are more Cobra kit cars on the road than there ever were authentic production Cobras. Yet for such an oft-copied car, there are innumerable ways to differentiate it from the crowd.

One such replica Cobra that we could not help but notice was this Superformance MKIII which has ditched any classic engine combination for something much more modern; the new Coyote 5.0 liter V8. We spoke with Superformance owner Lance Stander to find out what went into this awesome blend of classic Cobra looks with modern Ford performance.

“To be honest, it was a little more work than your typical engine installation,” says Lance. In addition to the MKIII Cobra replica, Superformance also sells licensed replicas of the GT40 and Chevy Corvette, but as soon as he heard about the new Coyote 5.0, Lance knew it would be going into one of his Cobra replicas. But it did indeed take a little more work than usual.

“The typical turnaround for building one of these cars is between five and seven days. This project took about twice as long,” Lance explains. “Getting the 5.0 motor into the engine bay was a bit tricky and very tight. We would joke that if you poured water over the engine, none of it would make it to the ground below.” Still, despite the tight working conditions, Lance and his crew were able to cram the wide-and-long 5.0 engine into the MKIII’s engine bay. However, the only modifications needed to make the motor fit were a custom air intake and exhaust headers. So it’s tight, but it works. In fact, it works very, very well.

Tipping the scales at just 2,400 pounds with the motor on board, the Coyote 5.0-powered MKIII “…drives the way a Cobra should.” Anybody who has ever driven a 427-powered Cobra can tell you just how nose-heavy these cars are, what with nearly 700 pounds of engine sitting up front. But the new Coyote 5.0 engine barely breaks 400 pounds, and when combined with the already-light MKIII body, creates a heart-pumping, non-stop thrill ride.

Backing the 5.0 engine is the same 6-speed transmission found in the 2011+ Mustang GT, and the suspension is a thoroughly modern setup that even real Cobra owners must look upon with envy. And of course, the 412 horsepower of the 5.0 engine means this 2,400 pound Cobra replica can turn rubber into smoke with just a blip of the throttle.

Don’t believe us? Well, if you are lucky enough to be attending the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas in a few weeks, you will have a chance to experience this yourself, as Lance and Superformance are bringing a dozen Kohmo tires and several Superformance MKIII’s, including the Coyote Cobra, to the SEMA Show this year. And they’re even going to let the public take them for a spin.

It’s a great blend of classic likes with modern performance in an affordable, recognizable package. And we are sure this is only the start of 5.0 engine customization, as more of these motors make their way into the public, more wild rides like the Superformance MKIII are sure to show up. We can’t wait to see what’s in store next.