The owner of the car drives the hell out of it! He drives it so fast that it holds a record for the world’s fastest Cobra. They call it the “Italian Job” and it’s owned by Ted Taormina, founder of Taormina Imports who specializes in exotic car service. It’s that knowledge that came into play when Ted recently set a new top speed record for a Cobra of 201.1mph at the Mojave Mile.
Always one to tinker, Ted Taormina started working on cars at a young age. He first bought a 1966 Oldsmobile and used that as his daily driver to and from school. He worked on it constantly, always trying to make it faster and louder. After graduating, he started working on a 1972 Ferrari GTC/4, a car that his uncle bought that had carburetor problems. It had a V12 under the hood as well as the dreaded twin-choke side-draft Weber carburetors, six of them to be exact. These are notoriously difficult to work on, and even more difficult to tune correctly. But after about a month of tinkering on his uncle’s car, Taormina managed to get it running and working like a champ.
Shortly thereafter, his uncle took the car to a local Ferrari/Lamborghini specialist by the name of Al Burtoni to get a scratch fixed. Apparently, he used Burtoni to check the work his nephew had done on the carburetors. Normally this sort of thing results in a complete nightmare, and I”m sure at the time Burtoni probably rolled his eyes and thought to himself, “great, I wonder what this 18-year-old kid did to this poor car.” But instead, Taormina’s uncle received a phone call from Burtoni informing him the work on the car was top notch and running like a champ, something only a handful of people can make run right and wanted to know more about the person that did it. When going to pick up the car, Taormina’s uncle took him along for the ride and so he could see Burtoni’s shop and when they got there, Al hired Ted right on the spot and he worked there for the next 24 years.
You might be asking yourself, what does a guy with all this Italian supercar knowledge have to do with a record breaking Cobra? It’s simple really. The Cobra is Taormina’s favorite car. He apparently had everything from Hot Wheels, posters, models, and just about any other memorabilia you can imagine of this car. Unfortunately, by the time he could start working on or driving them, they were far too expensive. So he began searching for the next best option, a well-built replica. He quickly came to the conclusion that Superformance was the perfect company for this. They received authorization by Shelby to build their continuation cars to the exact specs of the original, or whatever else the customer wanted.
The car Taormina used to set the record was this absolutely stunning MkIII Cobra he named “the Italian Job.” It was built by Superformance and Taormina then added his own Aero package to the car in order help it stay stable at high speeds. Interestingly, when Taormina bought the car he planned on installing a Ferrari V12 under the hood. But at the last minute, his engine builder contacted him to inform him that a customer had backed out of a high strung 427ci V8 that was good for at least 700hp. Which as cool as a Ferrari V12 would be, a 700hp purpose built 427ci V8 in a Shelby Cobra is a match made in heaven.
Taormina was tinkering away on this beautiful machine when he got a phone call from a friend informing him that a Cobra had hit 178mph at the Mojave 1.5 mile and that he should make a run at the record. Taormina told reporters that he thought to himself, “well shoot, I’ve done that on the street.” And obviously, he meant it because not long after that he took the Italian Job out to Mojave and blasted off a run of 187mph. He then went out and went even faster, finally surpassing the elusive 200mph mark. And just in case you think there might be foul play here, Taormina is quick to point out the Italian Job Cobra is just a Superformance fiberglass body with an immensely powerful 700hp 427ci V8 and some very well placed aerodynamic bits such as diffusers, spoilers, and flaps. And they obviously work quite well based on the speeds achieved.