2006 Hayden 427


  • Only three owners and 5,650 miles from new
  • Fresh MoT certificate
  • Monocoque chassis and double-wishbone suspension makes it one of the most sophisticated Cobra replicas
  • Believed to be one of only two in Britain

The Appeal

Way back in 1961, a Texan chicken farmer called Carroll Shelby decided he’d like the AC Ace a lot more with American V8 power. AC obligingly built him a special-order car with a 221ci Ford V8. It seemed like a good idea, and so the AC Cobra was born. The Cobra went into production in 1962, initially with the 289ci Ford V8 but gaining the huge 427ci V8 in 1965. With 427 power, the Cobra was a force to be reckoned with in sports-car racing around America and Europe, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Of course, original Cobras are scarce and command six-figure sums when they appear for sale, but they have become a very popular basis for replica cars, which offer comparable style, performance and enjoyment for a fraction of the cost. Of all the manufacturers of Cobra replicas, there’s a case to be made for Hayden being one of the best.

Les Hayden’s business, still extant today as Shamrock Cobra, was established in South Africa in 1984. The Hayden 427, offered with a range of engines despite its name, was attractive for all the same reasons as other Cobras, and more besides. Its great advantage lay in its monocoque construction, adaptable double-wishbone suspension and anti-squat and anti-dive chassis geometry, which road-testers claimed allowed the Hayden to handle far better at speed than its rivals.

Even so, Haydens have never been sold in volume in  Britain, and the vendor believes this example to be one of only two in the country. Powered by a muscular 350ci (5,735cc) Chevrolet V8. mildly upgraded and beautifully kept with only three owners and 5,650 miles from new, this could well be the king of all the Cobra kits.

The History and Paperwork

  • Assembled in 2006 by Dart Engineering and first registered in Britain in August
  • Transferred to its second British keeper – presumably its first private owner – in 2008
  • Purchased by the present owner in 2016
  • Sold with paperwork including the current V5, a 2010 service invoice, immobilizer certificate of installation and photographs taken as it was being assembled
  • Bidders should note that the car is known to the DVLA as a Dart Engineering, year of manufacture 1988

The Interior

  • Well-preserved and in excellent condition
  • Charcoal leatherette upholstery
  • Equipped with heater, clock and USB port

As with most classic sports cars, the Hayden has a fairly simple interior but, even then, it’s a little more comfortable and most. With a clock, heater and USB port, you can take advantage of a few little luxuries when you’re flying along with the wind in your hair.

In terms of condition, it is excellent. Since the upholstery and trim is only 16 years old and has seen under 6,000 miles’ worth of use, it shows no obvious signs of age. We could see no marks or blemishes in the charcoal leatherette upholstery, and the dash, centre console and carpets likewise appear very clean and well-presented.

The facia is well-stocked with gauges and an attractive Moto-Lita steering wheel finishes it off. The seats are well-padded and there’s plenty of space for each occupant, so despite the somewhat ‘wild’ nature of the Cobra, the Hayden strikes us a car which will undertake long journeys in comfort. It even has a boot which will take a few shopping bags and, like everything else, that is clean and tidily presented.

The Exterior

  • Fully fibreglass bodywork
  • Includes removable hardtop and car cover
  • Wears authentic, period-correct Halibrand or Halibrand-style wheels

With its neat, flowing profile interrupted only by its prominently bulging haunches, the Hayden looks every inch the Anglo-American muscle-car-cum-sports-car. Unlike some rival replicas, the Hayden does not attempt to deceive viewers into believing it’s a genuine original Cobra – the distinctive ‘H’ grille proclaims its identity proudly – but it still gets ‘the look’ just right. With its period colour scheme and correct Halibrand or Halibrand-style wheels (we believe them to be genuine, as Shamrock Cobra fits genuine Halibrands to its new cars), it wouldn’t be out of place at a 1960s SCCA race meeting.

The bodywork of the Hayden is all fibreglass, so there’s no risk of it corroding and it’s no wonder that this one still looks so good at 16 years of age. Apart from some minor paint blemishes, which are perhaps to be expected, it’s in extremely good condition. There’s not a lot in the way of ornamentation, but the lights, mirrors, windscreen, wheels and so on are all in excellent order.

The Cobra is being offered with a removable hardtop, although we are advised that it has never been fitted before and a bit of work may be required before it can be secured to the car. The hardtop wears non-matching silver and black paint and has some superficial paint damage.

As an open car, you’ll probably want to keep the Hayden garaged, but it is being sold with a cover, just in case you do find yourself having to leave it outside for any period of time.

The Mechanics

  • Fitted with one of the most popular engines among car-builders, the 350 Chevy Small Block
  • Upgraded carburettor and aluminium radiator
  • MoT for a full 12 months

Having been very lightly used over the course of its life, the Hayden is in superb mechanical condition. It starts on the button and sounds sublime – the wonderful, deep burble such as only an American V8 could make is greatly satisfying, but not so loud that it should irritate neighbours. The brakes and four-speed automatic B&M Quick Shift transmission are working as they should, and the fresh MoT for 12 months means the car should be immediately useable.

Available new with a choice of engines, the fact that this car is fitted with the much-loved 350 Chevrolet Small Block certainly works in its favour. One of the most popular engines with car-builders, as used in countless kit cars and hot rods, parts availability could scarcely be better. Indeed, brand-new 350s are still being manufactured by General Motors, so you should never be stuck for parts.

In other respects, the Hayden is more unusual. Its monocoque chassis, which presents in excellent condition having been etch-primed and finished with marine-grade paint for longevity, combines with custom-built front and rear double-wishbone suspension which, in Hayden’s own words, ‘eliminates the typical 'bucking-bronco' effect during hard braking and acceleration, ensuring a smoother and more controlled driving experience.’

Although it has only been used sparingly, the vendor has made some slight changes to improve reliability, including the replacement of the Holley carburettor with a new Edelbrock one and the fitment of a new aluminium radiator. The end result is a fast, thrilling car with an abundance of energy and stamina which likes nothing more than to be unleashed on the open road.

The Summary

Cobra replicas may have been built in their thousands since the 1980s, but there haven’t been any quite like the Hayden. An extremely rare car in this country – possibly one of only two – it boasts one of the most advanced chassis and suspension set-ups of any Cobra, which makes it one of the best handling. On the other hand, the 350 Chevy engine is famously simple and easy to maintain, which makes it a very easy car to live with and fettle. Beautifully presented in superb condition all round, this has to be one of the most interesting Cobras on the market and most likely the best one for the enthusiastic driver.


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Vehicle specification
  • Year 2006
  • Make Hayden
  • Model 427
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 5,650 Miles
  • Engine size 5700
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Eynsford
  • Location Kent
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
3 bids
  • XJPatri•••• £12,250 23/09/23
  • asphalt•••• £12,000 23/09/23
  • PaulDav•••• £10,000 23/09/23

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