Hayden Cobra - Engine Choices

In this edition I’d like to explore the various engine options available in your HAYDEN COBRA. There are different views on which engines to fit, and most choices, like the Cobras, are unique and customized to the taste of the owner. We do offer any number of options for your Cobra and are glad to assist you with advice and options.

A whole universe of engines can be fitted to a Cobra replica, and this includes the trusty original Ford Windsor and FE engines as well as the Ford Cleveland and Lima power-plants. While some purists maintain that a Cobra replica should be faithful to an original Cobra and house a Ford Windsor small-block or an FE big-block engine, the hobby has embraced all makes and models of V-8 engines. In fact, some are installing GM LS series engines into their Cobra because of the compact design, high-performance capabilities, massive aftermarket support, and ease of installation. While this may be sacrilegious for some, these combinations are becoming more popular.

Your choice of engine should hinge on several factors, including horsepower and torque targets (i.e., your ideal power band), budget, and of course personal preference. Many Cobra owners opt for crate engines for simplicity, convenience, and reliable performance.


When it comes to powering your Hayden Cobra, you must ask yourself, how much is enough? What kind of handling characteristics are you seeking and how does the engine selection factor into that choice? Hayden Cobra replicas have a curb weight of about 1,200 kg (2,000 pounds). Therefore, the car is extremely light and has a power-to-weight ratio that few cars can match.

For example, a HAYDEN COBRA with a 350-hp Ford 302 H/O small-block can propel the car to 240 kph (150 mph), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, a high-performance 427 ci stroker small block can reliably produce more than 600 hp and put the Cobra’s performance into the stratosphere of super car performance.

If you opt for a big-block you’re taking on much more weight, but you can easily build an 800-hp engine. Typically, most aluminum big-blocks weigh around 100 kg (150 pounds) more than a small-block from the same manufacturer. Adding more weight to the front of the car degrades handling characteristics, and therefore it is less agile through corners.

Whether you choose a small- or big-block engine, you need one set up for your application. Hence, the power band of the engine must match the application. If your Cobra is going to be a street car, then you need an engine that produces good torque from 1,500 to 5,000 because that’s the operating RPM on the street.

More next month......

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