Community Papers

Muscle car project is a labour of love

The engine compartment in Langford resident Joe Brooks
The engine compartment in Langford resident Joe Brooks' replica car of a 1965 Ford AC Cobra seems almost clean enough to eat off of. His custom-built ride is one of many muscle cars that will be on display this Sunday at the annual Langford Show and Shine in the 700 block of Goldstream Ave.
— image credit: Don Descoteau/News staff

The low-slung glossy black roadster rumbles as Joe Brooks backs it out of his garage in Langford.

His replica of the Carroll Shelby-designed 1965 Ford AC Cobra turns heads, and not just for the throaty sound it makes as it rolls down the road.

“Everybody stops and looks and wants to talk to you if you’re parked,” says Brooks, who by day is public works operations manager for the District of Oak Bay. “They want to take pictures – it’s a huge eye-catcher.”

This kit car, built from the ground up and completed in June 2013, won the People’s Choice award at last year’s Langford Show and Shine. Brooks expects it to be popular with visitors again when he lines it up next to dozens of other pre-1976 classic and muscle cars at this year’s show on Sunday (Aug. 17).

“There’s a lot of beautiful cars out there that guys have done some amazing things on. The quality and workmanship is incredible,” he says. “The Cobra would be in a different category than an original manufactured vehicle.”

Brooks was an automotive and heavy duty mechanic for 30 years before joining Oak Bay’s ranks. He was never one to drive or build a custom car, he says, but as the years went by he had a “bit of an itching for the (Cobra).”

While the plans laid out what he needed to assemble the car, there were many options for customizing it to his own tastes and budget.

“When I was building it, it didn’t matter what part I was putting on it, there was a more expensive part that was available,” he says.

The motor is a 302 cubic inch, 365-horsepower Ford, and the car is equipped with a high-performance, five-speed Tremec manual transmission. He put disc brakes all the way around, a more modern luxury the original Cobra didn’t have, but stuck with the manual rack-and-pinion steering.

It took Brooks about two years to finish the project. He faced a “huge learning curve” despite his extensive automotive background, he says. “It’s all new to me, compared to some of these guys who have spent 20, 30 years or more working with custom cars.”

Entering his pride and joy in the summer car shows, such as last Sunday’s Blethering Place show on Oak Bay Avenue, gives him a great chance to compare notes with the experts, Brooks adds.

“It’s great to be meeting all these guys with a lot of hot rod knowledge.”

Vintage car buff and Langford Mayor Stew Young will bring his 1964 Chevy Impala to the event. He says the Show and Shine provides a great boost to the city.

“It showcases downtown Langford and this is a great spot for it,” Young says. “The atmosphere is really kind of cool and the downtown lends itself well to the cars.”

Many people come back year after year to the event, he says, both car enthusiasts and those who simply like to admire the restoration and customization work of others.

“We always get great comments from it and the public around Langford and the area always appreciate the people who bring their vehicles down.”

The Langford Show and Shine happens Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the 700-block of Goldstream Ave. Vehicle registration begins at 8 a.m.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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