Cardboard to Cobra: Auto tech class builds Roadster replica

Published Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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From Kit to Car

FROM KIT TO CAR – Bridgeport High School’s auto tech class built this replica of a ’66 Cobra Roadster from a kit they bought two years ago. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The ’66 Cobra Roadster replica that caught everyone’s eye during homecoming was in pieces not long ago.

“It was brought in in boxes,” Terry Rye, the auto tech teacher at Bridgeport High School, said. “The kids have built it from the ground up.”

Rye’s auto class started working on the kit car two years ago, but a lack of funds kept them from getting much done on the project. Thanks to donations, work on the Roadster began in earnest by the end of last school year with the seniors setting a goal – they wanted the car complete enough to drive by homecoming. They started to come in on Saturdays to work extra, texting Rye to ask him to open the shop for them.

ALL IN – It takes a lot of work to assemble a car from the ground up, which is what these students have done. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I was a little worried we wouldn’t see it done my senior year,” said Michael Young, who’s worked on the Roadster since he was a sophomore. “It was pretty stressful.”

Some of the kids would have gladly worked even more hours to see the car finished.

“If only we could have done an all-nighter,” Seth Woodworth said. “I’d go a week without sleep to work on it.”

Once they had the parts for the engine – a 340-horsepower Ford 302 – the biggest hurdle was overcome.

“Hearing it run is my favorite part,” Zackery Sparks said. “Hearing it rumble was the best.”

The students put together the engine, then they added the extras – chrome detailing, windshield, interior – so the Roadster would look good for homecoming. Everything they did was a new experience because until they got the Roadster, Rye’s auto tech classes only repaired other cars.

“I’ve never built a car until now,” Rye said. “I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. I learned a lot of it with the kids.

“No matter how old you are, you’re going to learn. And it taught them you don’t have to know everything to do something.”

Soon though, they’ll have to take the car apart again to sand and paint it. They’re planning to paint the exterior maroon with white racing stripes. Once it’s complete, likely sometime early next year, the class will start taking the Roadster to car shows. Rye wants to eventually sell it in a raffle, which gives the kids mixed feelings. They’re proud of their work, but they’ll miss the car.

“The best part about it is I can say I built a car,” Young said. “Whoever gets it better take care of it, or I’m taking it back.”

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