It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Low-slung in its stance but designed to be passive-aggressive, I couldn’t help but stare at it. I vowed to get behind the wheel of one in my lifetime and it’s finally happened.
I found myself nestled behind the wheel of a bright green Backdraft Racing Cobra Roadster. Built by the guys who founded TR-Tec in 2002, they’re responsible for manufacturing hand-built niche automobiles, out of Durban.
Inside the Cobra, you’re met with the bare essentials – a seatbelt, steering wheel and two pedals. It’s motoring nirvana - none of that other ‘stuff.’
When I collected the car from Auto Capital in Bryanston, I was told I’m getting the ‘baby’ in the line-up. Not the most ideal words to hear as a motoring journalist but when I laid eyes on the Green Mamba, as I affectionately named it, it was perfect. The green paintwork complemented the design style perfectly.
It was time to become the snake charmer. Firing the Cobra up with a press of the ignition button, the ‘baby’ Lexus V8, four-litre 32-valve quad cam nestled beneath the bonnet spluttered and roared as it awakened, spitting smoke from the two-chromed exhaust pipes that run down the sides of the body.
Every prod of the accelerator seems to agitate the Cobra as it emits a louder and louder roar; it’s certainly something to behold. You’ll be forgiven for wanting to inspect the rumbling V8 that breathes through a cone filter and boasts a multi-point fuel injection.
Producing 216kW of power and 407Nm of torque, this Green Mamba has some serious go. It’s lightweight body and powerful engine catapults it along and its responsive steering gives good feedback.
Admittedly, the ride is a tad on the hard side and the drive does feel agricultural and unrefined. But the Cobra never promised to be luxury motoring. Instead, it harks back to an era of rugged fun-to-drive, man-and-machine.
Having the power transferred to the rear wheels with no traction control is something to enjoy. The car steps out and misbehaves as the fat 18-inch tekkies try to keep the Cobra in line.
Ultimately, the Backdraft Cobra fulfilled a dream. It’s rampant and basic, which petrol heads will love and while I only got to charm the ‘baby,’ the other models in the line-up include the 5.3-litre V8 and 6-litre V8, which could only mean trouble, but the good kind - of course.
With a starting price of R499 990 for the Green Mamba Autodealer tested, you have to be a real fan. But, then again, these are niche vehicles and only those who love them will understand.