10 Of The Most Incredible Superformance Kit Cars You Can Actually Buy
Posted on Tuesday 06-13-2023
10 Of The Most Incredible Superformance Kit Cars You Can Actually Buy, Ranked
BY MARK COWLEY/JUNE 10, 2023 4:30 PM EST
There are few cars more iconic in American automotive history than the Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40, but their rarity combined with their legendary status means that, on the rare occasion an original example of either car crosses the auction block, they sell for eye-watering sums. Buying one is out of the question for all but the wealthiest of collectors. But there is another way to own a Cobra or GT40 without having to shell out seven figures — buy a continuation or replica.
Replicas offer the best of both worlds, in that they can be close to identical to the original car in both appearance and mechanicals, but they're much more affordable. Owners are also free to drive them at the track or on the road without having to worry about diminishing the resale value through wear and tear or higher mileage. In other words, they can drive them in the way that the car's creators intended in the first place. Superformance is one of the leading makers of replica kits and continuations, and these cars represent the best that they offer.
Superformance Shelby CSX8000
Superformance is the only replica maker on the market to be officially authorized and endorsed by Shelby Licensing, meaning that its continuation Cobras are entered into the official Shelby register. The CSX8000 is one of those period-correct cars, built as a continuation of the Shelby Cobra MKII. A range of factory options are available, including either a fiberglass or aluminum bodyshell, number circles on the hood or trunk, and optional Le Mans stripes.
The original car was built for the track, and of course, the CSX8000 is still just as formidable on race day as it was back in the '60s. However, collectors who prefer to rack up the miles on the road instead are also in luck, as the car can be road registered, too. Buying one of these continuation cars will cost a fraction of the price of an original Cobra, but with the same chassis, powertrain, and design, it's about as close to the real deal as it's possible to get.
Superformance MKII FIA
The Cobra's ability to dominate in racing helped it ascend to the status of American icon, and Superformance's MKII FIA is designed to capture that race-winning spirit. It's designed to house a period-correct 289 engine with a contemporary Tremec TKO transmission, all packaged under bodywork that remains true to the original proportions of the classic race car. It's worth noting, however, that the drivetrain installation remains the responsibility of the buyer, like all Superformance products. So, anyone looking to get the most authentic Shelby experience possible will need their own V8 at the ready, although Superformance can point you in the direction of a trusted engine builder.
A transverse leaf spring suspension and round tube chassis give the MKII FIA an original, classic feel, and a number of additional race-ready features can be added at customer request. Much like its continuation Cobras, the Superformance MKII FIA is an official, licensed Shelby. It's ready for the track, but it's also possible to get the car registered for the road.
Superformance Corvette Grand Sport
The original Corvette Grand Sport was developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, one of the key figures in the creation of the original Corvette and chief engineer for Chevrolet at the time. It was designed to compete in the GT class at Le Mans with the goal of getting a class win, but after five prototypes were completed, the project was canned by executives before it could compete. Arkus-Duntov was told to destroy the cars, but ended up selling three to Texan racers through a dealer and associate.
A variety of engines were used in the five cars across their racing careers, which gives buyers of Superformance's Corvette Grand Sport replica a wealth of choice when it comes to choosing a powertrain. A range of GM engines are available through Superformance's partner GM Performance Parts, but there's nothing stopping buyers from slotting any other suitable engine under the hood, since the Grand Sport is sold as a rolling chassis.
Superformance Shelby CSX6000
The period-correct continuation of the MKIII Cobra gets the CSX6000 designation, and much like the CSX8000, a limited number of options are available. Buyers get the choice of aluminum or fiberglass bodywork. If they choose aluminum, either a brushed or polished finish can be requested. Both number circles and Le Mans-style stripes are also available, with the latter sporting either a brushed or polished finish. The build is kept as close as possible to that of the original '60s car, and thanks to Superformance's meticulous attention to detail, Carroll Shelby gave his blessing to license the cars under his name.
Like its MKII sibling, the CSX6000 is eligible for the official Shelby register, where it's marked down as a continuation car. As a rolling chassis, the main concern for the buyer will be to find an appropriate engine and transmission, but Superformance will be happy to point buyers in the right direction here to complete the authentic feel of the car.
Superformance MKII Slab Side
Whereas the CSX-designation kits focus solely on creating a car that's as close to the original Shelby of the '60s as possible, the Superformance MKII and MKIII kits add some contemporary updates to the classic design. The MKII Slab Side is classed as an official Shelby product thanks to an exclusive licensing agreement, but there are a few key tweaks between the original and the replica's design to make driving it a more comfortable experience. In particular, the footwell design has been altered so taller drivers can fit in more easily, and a few tweaks have been made to the suspension to improve safety.
The chassis remains as close to the original design as possible, with the Superformance team using drawings from AC Cars to ensure authenticity. Much like the suspension, a few minor tweaks have been made to bring the car up to modern standards, including the addition of a 3-inch square tube through the main rails to increase overall rigidity. It might be marginally different to the original Slab Side's construction, but the Superformance replica is about as close as you'll get to the real thing, with even the smallest details like the glove box knob and reproduction gauges developed to look and feel identical to the original.
To ensure his race cars retained their competitive edge, Carroll Shelby was always tweaking and updating his designs throughout the Cobra's original production run. The MKIII-CS (short for Custom Series) allows buyers to do the same today, with a wealth of bespoke options available to create a restomod Cobra that's completely unique. Using the MKIII rolling chassis as a starting point, buyers can request any custom paint combination they want, or add the "blackout package" which replaces the chrome accents around the car with a stealthy black finish. The interior also gets an overhaul, with diamond-pattern leather seats that are specific to the model. The center console, trunk mat, and transmission cover can also be covered in the same diamond pattern material.
Other non-traditional options include electric power steering, push-button start, and electronic gauges in place of the original analog ones. LED headlamps also give the car a retro-modern look, while custom-finished wheels can take on either a bold splash of color or a stealthy blacked-out aesthetic. The beauty of the Custom Series is that it's up to the buyer to decide how radical they want the design of their MKIII to be — if they're looking for an all-out restomodded track day weapon, so be it, but if they're only looking to add a few personal touches to Shelby's original design, they're free to do so.
Superformance Future 40
Superformance has been building Ford GT40 replicas for around two decades, but its latest variation is a mix of classic and cutting-edge. The Future 40 takes inspiration from both the '68 and '69 Ford GT victories at Le Mans and the more recent class win at Le Mans in 2016. It's based on the GT40 MKI kit that replicates the design of the '60s car but features modern aero including carbon fiber canards, a detachable carbon fiber rear wing, and a detachable front splitter. It comes as standard in left-hand drive form, but as an homage to the '68 and '69 race cars, right-hand drive is also available.
HRE wheels give the car a cutting-edge racing look, with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires providing superior grip. Despite its race-ready appearance, the car is built to be fully street-legal, with Superformance noting that it even comes with air conditioning as standard. LED headlights and taillights complete the transformation, with integrated turn signals to retain the track toy look. Superformance recommends fitting a Roush engine for the Future 40 but notes that Ford-based 289, 302, or 351W engines are also suitable.
In a similar vein to the Future 40, the Superformance MKIII-R takes a classic design and throws in some modern aero tweaks and high-performance extras. Its wheelbase and original shape remain much the same, but there are new scalloped fenders, an aggressive front splitter, and a rear diffuser. Inside, you'll find custom leather seats with accent thread that matches the color of the body. Electronic gauges are available as standard, and power steering, LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels are available as options. Bespoke customization options are also available on request.
Either a soft-top or hard-top roof is available as an option, and there's even an optional push-button start if you're keen on making your Cobra as modern as possible. The extra modifications mean that this doesn't class as a bona fide Shelby, as it's not licensed, but with a car that looks this good, it's safe to say that buyers aren't going to mind. Superformance only builds 20 of these kits every year, so anyone looking to place an order might face a wait to get their hands on one.
Superformance Shelby Daytona Coupe
The Shelby Daytona Coupe is another American racing icon that's ultra-rare, and as a result, eye-wateringly expensive to buy. That is unless you opt for the Superformance replica, which was designed in collaboration with Peter Brock and Bob Negstad, the designers of the original '60s car. It's built on a genuine Shelby CX9000 chassis, and features mild styling tweaks over the original, mainly to make the cabin more habitable for taller drivers, and increase visibility. The basic components remain as close to unchanged as possible, although modern amenities like remote door locks and a contemporary air conditioning system differentiate it from the '60s classic.
The car is available in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive configurations, and various aesthetic optional extras are available. Engine choices are plentiful, with some examples fitted with modern GM LS V8s in place of traditional Ford V8s by their buyers. Like all of the Superformance replicas, the Shelby Daytona Coupe is available at a fraction of the cost of an original Daytona, but with suitably old-school handling and the option to fit an incredibly potent engine, it will be just as hair-raising to drive as its '60s ancestor.
Superformance GT40 MKII
The Superformance GT40 MKII is one of the most faithful GT40 continuations on the market, with the company claiming that over two-thirds of its component parts are directly interchangeable with the original '60s race car. That includes the monocoque chassis, which is identical apart from the galvanized steel used in its construction. The suspension is also identically laid out, with Bilstein shocks and H&R springs replicating the original car's dynamics as closely as possible.
It's available in either left-hand or right-hand drive, and Superformance recommends a Roush engine to give the car an appropriately pulse-raising amount of ponies. However, various Ford engines can also be fitted. Superformance's GT40s are so close to the original car that several examples were used for the filming of "Ford vs Ferrari," the 2019 movie about the original clash for Le Mans dominance that birthed the GT40 design. The original race cars were too valuable to use for filming, so Superformance's recreations were featured in their place.