For Russ Liberty, the only constant in his life, aside from the 45 years he has shared with his wife Cheryl, was his dream to one day own a 427 Cobra. To make that happen, Russ decided to build one himself using a Factory Five kit.
“My first car was a 1965 VW Beetle,” he explained. “I loved that car, even if it wasn’t too reliable. I cut my teeth on engine up-keep and repair on that car.”
While the Beetle was a nice set of training wheels, Russ’ dream car was never far from his mind.
Russ Liberty’s Factory Five roadster is the ultimate father/son project.
“I was walking to the local drug store with my best friend in the summer of 1965,” Russ recalled. “Suddenly I heard the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. It came from over a hill ahead of us as we walked. Then it appeared — a 427 Cobra! It was a simple black with a silver stripe and I was in love.”
As it turned out, the car was owned by the local gas station owner, so it was always nearby to stoke his young imagination.
“I would walk over to the station to look at it and dream,” Russ acknowledged. “At the time I was only 9 and my Uncle Al and I were into HO slot cars. We’d spend hour upon hour racing. Eventually, he bought a Cobra 427 as one of his racers, modifying the engine until it was unbeatable. To me that just added to the mystique of the car. I knew one day I would own one.”
The unmistakable lines of this Cobra are sure to turn heads in the Mile-High state.
As with most things in life, time and circumstance don’t always come together at the most opportune times.
“I was in high school working a summer job in construction making a lot of money for the time. In one summer I had earned enough to buy an original Cobra 427,” Russ said. “Back then 10 grand would buy one, but I lived in upstate New York at the time and could only afford one car. Buying one that could only be driven a few months out of the year just wasn’t practical. Now look what they are worth!”
Cowboy Gets New Horses
Today the self-proclaimed “cowboy,” father of four, and grandfather of 10 is a 30 year veteran stock broker, accountant, and tax preparer. A string of Harleys having passed through his Colorado home, but liberty jumped in with both feet when he decided it was time to realize a dream.
“The Cobra is actually my first dip into the muscle car hobby,” Russ said.
Having sold his bikes, he wondered where he would go from there for his fun transportation.
“I remembered my love of the Cobra 427 so I called my dad and said, Dad, let’s build a Cobra together,” he said.
Russ’ Cobra would benefit from the capable skills of Father Jim at his Liberty Motorsports shop.
Fortunately for Russ, dad is none other than Jim Liberty of Liberty Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California. Jim’s reputation restoring 356 Porsches meant this Cobra would be no shade-tree build.
“My 427 Cobra is a kit from Factory Five Racing,” Russ said. “The look is exactly as I remember from the first one that I saw back in 1965 down to the lift bumpers.”
Russ and father Jim improved the frame; dropped in a blueprinted 306 with a Tremec five-speed manual; added classic gauges; shot it in silver with black and red stripes and draped it all in high-grade leather.
Regarding the powerplant Jim said, “I’m 62 now, so I don’t need more than 400 horsepower to make me happy, so I didn’t put the 427 in it.”
With years of Vintage Porsche restoration, concourse preparation, and racing experience, Russ’ father Jim left nothing to chance with this build.
Reflecting on the father/son build Jim said, “I spent seven glorious weeks with my dad in 2017 working on it, and that makes this car that much more special to me.”
Being his first dip into the muscle car hobby, Russ says he learned quite a bit.
“Save, Save, Save when you are young because this isn’t a cheap hobby,” he advised. “I’m a career money guy so when my dad and I decided to build this car I told him that I wanted to develop a budget.”
“There is no budget It will cost what it will cost,” his dad replied, proving the old adage, father know best.
Russ conveys that his Cobra was built as it should have been, with no corners cut and the best of everything from the ground up. And, yes, this money man will tell you that it hurt!
Russ says he spent seven glorious weeks in California building this car with his father Jim, which makes his Cobra even more special.
Having recently completed Russ’ dream car, the father and son anxiously await the Colorado thaw and the opportunity to finally let this family built treasure stretch its legs with the Mile-High Cobra club, which sounds like a great way to enjoy your dream car.
His childhood dream car now complete with the help of his father, Russ anxiously awaits the first cruise with wife Cheryl and the Mile-High Cobra Club.