Thursday, February 03, 2005
Mike's Cobra, the Sexiest Car in Austin
Mike is literally the one person I know who, when he told me he was making a Cobra in his garage, I utterly believed he would achieve it in a timely fashion. He has been an exotic metals machinist (some of my favorite metal objects are the medical prosthetics Mike has made, which invariably look like HR Giger torture devices made from titanium) for some time now and has functioned as chief mechanic and Radio Control sports director for me and five or six others for at least a decade, keeping a stable fragile and exotic R/C cars and their respective parts and control devices, and an equivalent number of R/C planes, in perfect working order the whole time, not to mention inventing and constantly improving machines and devices all around him. People like him make the world go around, literally, and when Mike made what may or may not have been the world's first R/C robot truck, with a camera, microphone, speaker, and water cannon, so you could drive the thing up to a stranger on the other side of a building, communicate with the stranger, and spray him or her with water and race away, I knew he was ready for a larger project. The water cannon later became a fire cannon when Mike figured out he could fill the large reservoir with Bacardi 151 and get reliable ignition from a trick birthday candle, but a malfunction dumped the rum all over it and almost melted before Mike could put it out. Of course, it works perfectly now.
And now he's done with the Beast, and it is the most beautiful car I've ever seen in person. Is it a genuine Shelby Cobra? No, but it's probably better in many respects considering the advances in technology since they made the last genuine Cobra. The motor and running gear came from a '90s Mustang GT, and the Cobra weighs much, much less. Everything that happens in this car is a loud, violent act: acceleration, braking, and cornering are all accompanied by a shredding of the tires and the feeling that you might just break up with gravity at any moment. It's truly exhilarating, like riding a motorcycle on four wheels; you're in the car, but you feel a little bit like you're on it instead, and there is not much between you and the world around you.
Mike has to watch the weather a little bit, no top on the thing to speak of, but he's that kind of guy too, so it's not a problem. His car will be beautiful and correct as long as he owns it, and that is a truly wonderful thing. Excellent job Mike!