Guy Fieri and His Shelby Cobra

A winning recipe for a Shelby Cobra from celebrity chef Guy Fieri

Chefs like to experiment with all sorts of flavors. Celebrity chefs probably like to experiment a lot. Take Guy Fieri, for one. Although trained in gourmet fusion cuisine, he’s probably best known for his down-home Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (among numerous other TV appearances, along with hosting Minute to Win It). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that before he turned up the heat in a Shelby Cobra, he had a taste for something completely different—Chevys.

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Camaros and Cobras

"To be honest, I'm a big-time Bow Tie guy," he admits. (Indeed, his personal collection includes a restomod Chevelle and a customized Corvette and Kodiak, among other hot rides.) So how did he make the switch from Bow Tie to Blue Oval in a big-block Cobra?

Give some credit to Bill DenBeste of DenBeste Motorsports, a Shelby dealer. He's a regular patron of Johnny Garlic's, a Fieri eaterie in Santa Rosa, California, and after they became friends, he invited him to sample a Cobra he had actually been building for himself. Cooked up a double dose of venom-a 600 hp, all-aluminum sideoiler-it almost ruined Fieri's appetite for Chevys.

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Authentic Shelby

"I just about died," Fieri laughs. "I thought I really knew horsepower and torque and g-force. I can't believe the FAA doesn't require a pilot's license for these cars. A naturally aspirated 427 big-block is a can of whup-ass." This particular Cobra is the genuine article with an authentic Shelby American CSX chassis number, rather than some over-processed imitation. After all, Guy is known for making real food for real people, so why would he settle for anything less?

But the ingredients here are fresh, since this Cobra is newly manufactured to original specs by Shelby American in component form (less engine), and then completed by a dealer such as DenBeste Motorsports. Obviously, a Sixties muscle car can't be certified to today's automotive standards, but it can be recreated and legally registered as a specialty car.

The cool thing is, it has the same chassis design as the original, with four-inch D.O.M. (Drawn Over Mandrel) frame rails, albeit with slightly beefier wall thickness, and a fully independent, high-performance suspension-no live-axle rearend or Mustang II parts in this bona fide big-block muscle car.

Back in the Sixties, all Cobras came with an aluminum body, laboriously pounded out by hand at AC Cars in England. But Carroll Shelby was always disappointed in their consistency and quality ("They looked like they were made by a bunch of winos under bridge with old beer cans," he's griped, referring to the lack of alignment in the headlights and other areas.) And you could dent the body just by pushing hard with your thumb.

So today, even though a much better and more precise aluminum body is available as an option, Shelby American offers a fiberglass variant, which is what Guy Fieri's Cobra has. One advantage of the fiberglass body is the use of a structurally rigid tub in the cockpit instead of a small-diameter tubular subframe to support the aluminum skin.

To give the car Fieri's personal stamp, note the ominous skull logo on the hood of his Cobra. It's actually inspired by one of his tattoos. Add to that a head of spiked hair and hands full of chunky jewelry, and you've got one nasty-looking package. This counter-culture cook clearly knows how to boil the hides and skin a Cobra. Of course, having 600 horses on tap makes throttle steering and smoky burnouts look almost as easy as slingin' hash. Bill DenBeste's mechanic Joe Felciano, a seasoned racecar wrench, built the hot mill in Guy's Cobra, and shared his secret recipe.

It's a 427 FE big-block opened up from a stock bore and stroke of 4.23 and 3.76 inches to 4.375 and 4.125, respectively, for a total displacement of a saucy 496 cubes. The Arias pistons are slightly dished (to ensure a CR of 10.25:1), and the Scat H-beam rods measure 6.7 inches, secured with ARP 2000 rod bolts to a Scat billet crank. An Elgin street/strip camshaft (636 lift, 112 degrees lobe separation) bumps precision pushrods from Smith Brothers, a company known for its handcrafted Cup-car parts.

The valvetrain boasts titanium springs and Crane hydraulic roller lifters. They actuate within Shelby's Stage III heads, boasting a max flow of 325 cfm at 28 inches of water. Shelby also supplied the dual plenum intake, topped by a 950cfm Holley that's fed by a Carter mechanical fuel pump and nestled in a period-correct turkey pan.

Getting back to Guy, he's also enjoyed getting to know ol' Shel' as well, who autographed his dash (as has another of Guy's heroes, Kenny "Snake" Stabler, formerly of the Oakland Raiders). "My Cobra is signed by two legends in their fields," he explains. That's fitting, since this Cobra is driven by a legend among foodies, too.


DenBeste Motorsports LLC
820 DenBeste Ct.
Windsor, CA 95492
(707) 836-1534

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