— story by Pete Evanow, photos by Myles Regan
In the competitive world of custom sports cars, especially within the Shelby Cobra category, the highly respected manufacturer Superformance, LLC, of Irvine stands on top. Two reasons justify that assertion: One, Lance Stander, the man behind Superformance; and two, the company’s version of the original Shelby Cobra, which Superformance calls the MKIII, is built under license from Carroll Shelby Licensing Inc.
Of course, there are many other reasons why the Superformance MKIII is such a special Cobra, and members of the MPG were lucky to see some of them firsthand when they were treated to a very unique presentation by Lance during June’s luncheon meeting.
Tucked within one of Irvine’s well-manicured business zones, the Superformance facility looks like any other small business. But step into the booming warehouse, and the space is alive with what the company calls “rolling chassis” continuation cars. The majority are Cobras, but Superformance also is licensed to build GT40 replica or what it calls 1960s racing legends reproduction cars, including Shelby’s Daytona Coupe. The company has a license with GM to build a Corvette Grand Sport as well, and serves as the U.S. distributor for Caterham Cars.
On the day MPG visited, Lance and his extremely cordial crew had set up the warehouse to make it appear as if all the Cobras were parked at a drive-in theatre [sigh: remember those?] with a big screen in front. Many of the Cobras were in fact sold, so MPG members were advised to “delicately” enter and snuggle within their respective Cobra. Those that were not had no shifter nor motor, awaiting those additions as specified by their new owner. Each Superformance rolling chassis is completely assembled in South Africa, Lance explained, shipped to Irvine, and ready for the buyer to select a drivetrain of their choice. He spoke to the assembled crowd and then treated all to multiple images and videos on the widescreen.
Over the past 12 years, Superformance has achieved success in distributing these special cars throughout the U.S., and has worked painstakingly with SEMA in gaining approval from Congress of the vehicles’ authenticity and street-worthiness. As one of the first players in the industry, Superformance has now developed 20 independent dealerships throughout the world, and with new legislation, intends on growing those dealerships within the U.S. More than 4,000 rolling chassis worldwide have been produced by Superformance and partner Hi-Tech Automotive, the world’s largest specialty car production facility, based in South Africa.
Following Lance’s presentation, MPG members were treated to some hamburgers from a favorite food truck of his and then were offered dessert: the chance to drive a select number of Superformance vehicles. Suffice it to say that the street in front of Superformance’s headquarters wasn’t quiet for the better part of an hour that afternoon as Cobras went roaring up and down the road. Lance and his team had thought of everything – as usual – and made sure that Irvine’s finest were fully informed about the events taking place at 6 Autry that day.
Our thanks to Lance and his staff who were very kind in accommodating us that special day, and to the great crew at Kahn Media, who helped set this up for all of us at MPG.