. Cobra Ranch Historical Automotive Blog: Featuring Wally Wyss

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ford's GR-1 Concept Model: Could it be Built Into a Cobra?

      The world of the auto collector is usually divided neatly into such categories as prototypes, mules,
and production cars. Some prototypes sometimes escape auto makers and are put on the road, but it's rare, especially now that there's emissions and safety rules which prototypes handily don't have to meet. Mules never reach the road--they are destroyed, and often don't look anything like the production car. Now we have a new category: Platform model.  We found out a year late that Ford sold the "platform model" (an inanimate non-running life size model for a future car) at an auction in Monterrey a year ago. Now that makes  us wonder if it could be put on a chassis and then
called, and presumably registered as, a Cobra?
     Presumably Ford supplied a receipt for the car and described it and with 50 States in the U.S. (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) that leaves a buyer over 50 DMV offices he can try to register it at.  The sleek GR-1 was first unveiled at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  The platform model sold at the RM auction a year ago for $75,000 (the money going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) . It was built after the Cobra concept roadster won  Best in Show at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. 
The design of the car, which in profile, strongly resembles the design by Pete Brock for the 1964 Cobra Daytona coupe is credited to a young designer  at the Irvine Advanced Design Studio,  George Saridakis. His Kamm-tailed homage to the original coupe caught the eye of Ford’s Head of Design, J Mays, and got approved for a show car. Though the coupe they later built in running form for a second prototype was front-engined, the running version used much of the Ford GT platform from their mid-engined car of '05-'06. Why would Ford sell a non-running car? Because they discovered in an auction several years ago where they sold dozens of clay, wood and fiberglass models that buyers of non-running cars generally put them in their vast living rooms or museums on display (or they could be Ford dealers wanting something as a "showroom magnet.") . Hardly anyone, Ford figured,  would want to go through the expense of building a chassis to put under it.  Ford figures: Hey, it's for charity and if they donate it to charity they can write it off as a charitable contribution.
     Going back to the idea of making it a running car, we think if the owner mounted this body on a real A.C. chassis, he or she would have a better argument for registering it as an "A.C. Cobra" because the chassis would be built by A.C. and the body by Ford. Then it would be in the same category as the XD Cobra, a genuine A.C. Cobra chassis rebodied by Ford back in the early '60s with an experimental body design or the Cougar II, another genuine A.C. Cobra chassis rebodied by Ford that's in the same collection.
     Now when it comes to a replica chassis, not made by A.C. (though they could use an A.C. Mk.IV through Mk. VI), then you couldn't call it an "A.C. Cobra" but you could still register it, in one state or another, as a Ford Cobra which is probably how it's described on the paperwork. And once it's titled, you could move to the State you live in and re-title it.  Now what we want to know is, what happened to the polished aluminum one that followed? That's the car we want but if that's not for sale, the present owner of the "platform car" might want to price out what it would cost to get this inanimate platform car to be a running car. But since the Concept Platform is not alloy you couldn't polish it to look like the running car. We'll take a wild guess and say $250,000 separates a running car from having a car like Ford's running GR-1 concept car...

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