Bernie and Augie Deliman stood next to the Cobra sports car and talked with admiration about its beautiful red coating of paint. But was it the right color of red? Was one of the many shades of blue among the Cobras better?
That was what this couple from Pittsburgh, Pa. pondered with care Saturday as they walked among more than 150 Cobra sports cars at the annual AC Cobra Car Show in downtown London Saturday during the annual London Strawberry Festival.
“We drove here from Pittsburgh just to see this show,” said Augie Deliman, “In the rain, too.”
Bernie Deliman said they had purchased a Cobra sports car kit, and now were deciding what color it should be. “There really isn’t any better way to decide that to come here and compare all these different shades that owners have painted their Cobras,” he said.
“I’m leaning toward the red,” she said. “And he’s partial to the blue.”
Early Saturday morning, a parade of Cobras rolled into downtown London to park around the courthouse, their owners proudly showing off their different models.
The Cobra Car Show, sponsored by the Ohio Cobra Club, has come to London each June since 2005, according to Club President George Daulton of Centerville. And he loved this community.
“We are welcomed here with open arms, just like we are family,” he said while standing in front of the Ohio Cobra Club display and trailer. Next to him was a shiny silver Cobra that was being raffled off for charity at $20 a ticket. The car is valued at more than $90,000.
“The people here are tremendous. They block off the street and people can come here if they are contemplating buying a car or building a car. We give Cobra rides for $10 to benefit Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is the real reason we do this. In the last 13 years, we have given $1.13 million to Cystic Fibrosis,” Daulton said.
Not far down the street, there was a long line of residents waiting their turn to take a wild, and fast ride in one of the Cobras. This is an eagerly awaited part of the downtown festival and Cobra Show each year. For the $10 donation, a passenger gets the thrill of riding shotgun in one of the Cobras down a closed-off quarter mile of Main Street. The cars could reach speeds of more than 100 miles an hour in just a few seconds.
Many of the passengers held their hands in the air like they were preparing for the first drop on a roller coaster. In a roar, the Cobra takes off, reaches a blinding speed in seconds, then just as quickly slows. Many of those taking the ride said this was better than any coaster. “That was the most fun you can ever get for $10,” said one of the riders.
“The reason we have it here in London is that the bodies of the cars originally came from Great Britain; it just kind of fits in with London and the courthouse. We’ve been coming here for more than a decade as the Ohio Cobra Club and the London Cobra Show. It is the largest Cobra show in the world,” Daulton said.
Last year, there were visitors from at least 29 states and Canada, and as far away as Washington state. “We have had people come from as far as New Zealand and Abu Dabi,” Daulton added.
Statewide, there are about 70 members in the Ohio Cobra Club, with about 35 active. When told about the couple comparing Cobra colors, Daulton said this was nothing unusual. “We have vendors here who sell the kits, so people can come here and compare side by side. There is just about every color combination and engine combination here.”
Did he have a crowd estimate? “It would be a pure guess. I would say it would be in the thousands.”
Dave Beck, of Columbus, treasurer for the Ohio Cobra Club, agreed that London residents and officials have always been very helpful, and the club shows its gratitude for the hospitality.
Beck said the club donated on Saturday $5,000 to the London Police Department; $5,000 to the London Fire Department, $5,000 to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department; $5,000 to the Madison County Medical Association.
General Manager/Editor Gary Brock can be reached at 937-556-5759 or on Twitter at GBrock4.