Serpentine adventures…

Hello, again. Our Cobra adventure is now three days in. After the torrid rainstorm, that was the St. Louis Diwali, a bright, crisp and windy Sunday meant 2 drives with the Blue Snake.

After waiting till the sun was truly in the clear (and neighbours likely awake from their slumber), it was two pumps on the gas pedal and a push on the starter pedal to awake the beast. From the usual explosion of noise, her engine settles into a Brrump-Brrump-Brrump rhythm. Strapped in my four point harness, like a biplane pilot, I gingerly engage reverse as I crawl out onto my driveway. Pedestrians enjoying the morning walk regard me with disdain as I try to enter the roadway.

Surprisingly, the clutch is light, the transmission precise as I gently advance through first, second and third as I trudge down Wydown – just under the limit. Shouting a big “Thank you” to the county of St. Louis for fixing Big Bend, I traverse the segment from Wydown to the 40 without the usual bone-shaking that the ultra-stiff suspension of this replica of a 60s racer has. With the smoothness of a P-51 taking wing in the crisp November air, she delights as I gently advance the gas pedal to match the expressway speed as she settles into her overdrive at a meager 1800 rpm and 60 mph. Occasionally buffeted by the near gale-force winds that remained from the prior night’s storm, she continues unabated, her steering light (and a little numb – thanks to the power assistance) and drawing on easy reserves of power to climb inclines without even the thought of a downshift.

Despite the balmy 50o weather, freezing air rips through the cabin as it creeps through the tiny spaces in the soft top. Notwithstanding my relaxed grip, my fingers are numb on the moto lita at 11 and 2 as we coast to the exit towards the Chesterfield Airport. Returning back to the expressway from the overpass, she eases into roadways speeds with the easy alacrity of an old hand, gently reminding me of how outmatched I am to what she is capable of, yet welcoming me to enjoying her thoroughbred power as she flexed her considerable muscle. Her dimunitive proportions (the same as the Mazda Miata) make her a dream to point and steer as she switches lanes accurately and without complaint.

Thundering back up our driveway, she returns to her abode with a clatter and a clang as I remove the battery-kill tag. I enter to find her angry namesake, looking in askance to being left behind. Apologies delivered, I head to work in my trusty Golf.

Returning from work, I find both ladies ready to embark again. The cobra ready to dance, and Alpana dressed in biking gear. A smile on the latter, broader than the Chesapeake Bay greets me as I start up the 4-wheeled one. Accompanied by the thunder of her exhaust, we go through a gentle drive through the quiet Clayton Sunday, as the smiles continue to grow.

Trundling home, my wife looks at me. Of all the cars I’ve had, this would be the first time, her face was both content, yet excited, as she pronounced that this was her favorite car ever.

Which would make sense.

Of all the cars I’ve owned, this is by far the prettiest, meanest, most characterful car that carries a streak of mischief but remains responsible, gentle and smart. Probably my second best choice in all my life.


RT4 with an Iconic 427 ci engine. 488 bhp/533 lbft on the dyno. BMW E91 rear independent suspension with coilovers. 4 piston 13 inch brakes in front and single piston in the back. 18 inch 245/40 (front) and 295/40 (rear). Heated seats and interior with cloth soft top.

By Kartik Mani

Widely known for my extremely poor sense of humor, my life revolves around being an interventional cardiologist in the daytime; a molecular and cell biologist, when not placing stents in peoples arteries; a blogger when I get the time; a philosopher, when epiphany strikes; a rangefinder artist, when provided the inspiration and subjects; a car nut of staggering proportions; and Son, Brother, Dad and Husband to the greatest family known to mankind.

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