We are strange creatures when it comes to selecting a car. We agonise over the specifications on the internet or on a printed pamphlet. We read no end of motoring books. We argue endlessly in the pub about arcane little aspects of the different makes. We stare at the outside and droll over scoops, flairs, and bulges.
And then we just get in and sit down and that is what sells the thing – or doesn’t sell the thing – to us. If we got in in the first place and tried to reach the radio dial we could save months of agony.
I am not going to say never mind the air conditioner and the MP4 player and the 15 separate glove compartments and storage spaces – these are important once in a while. I love the A/C in y Suzuki. I love the radio controls on the steering wheel. I would love the heated towel rack and bacon dispenser if it had one. But it all comes back down to a seat that doesn’t hurt and a steering wheel that feels right.
These Cobra cars are furnished in different styles on the outside and it is interesting to see how these style differences have carried on into the interior. In keeping with the sports image of the marque, and the fact that it has an engine as big as a concrete truck balanced on a sporting chassis, there is a need for a responsive wheel. I am happy to say that each car here has one – unlike some Morgans that have appeared lately with what look like 60’s leftover controls.
There is a difference in the materials of the dash – wood in one case, metal in others, glass fibre in a third. I hesitate to say that I think the plain metal the best, because you may have a different aesthetic opinion. Likewise I would not like to press my taste for the steering wheel column – plain, please. Suffice it to say these cars all have a sit-up orientation for the wheel.
I must admit I was a little interested to see that the main dial placement could be so different. Tach and speedo are larger gauges and need careful placement if you are going to watch them successfully. Putting one in the middle of the dash has always seemed a distraction, though users of older English cars would not think it odd. It does mean that the dial is not obscured by your hands but you have to glance away to the left to see it clearly. Note that none of these dials are protected or sited against glare so at some stage of the game they may be whited-out.
Note the different positions of the stick shift in relation to the dash, and the variations in hand-brake position. I presume part of this is occasioned by the different transmissions.
The seats, as well call for some examination. I particularly commend the buff-coloured leather ones in the red Cobra – the side wings are prominent but ventilated so that you can get some comfort on a hot day. Their headrest also seem sleeker and more sophisticated than those of the other cars – the round barrel shape is functional but a little clumsy.
Door interiors can be plain or fancy – I prefer the map pocket variety. At least there are no window winders to poke in the side of your leg.
Finally, there is the general lining. A little more prominent in some cars. There is nothng wrong with this, provided the seams are straight. A dark colour wears well, but the beige or brown, if it matches the rest of the interior – is charming. No-one has resorted to a Mexican blanket or Playboy pink seat covers. Yet.