To many in the hobby, 74 year old Lynn Park is known simply as “Mr. Cobra.” Some automotive monikers might not be considered accurate, but we’d have to say that he lives up to this title. Not only has Lynn been around the historic roadsters for more than half century, but he owns an incredible collection of rare snakes.
“It all started in high school while working at a local gas station” Lynn said. “I was a Ford hot rodder with a hand-me-down ’56 Ford that I dropped a big-block Edsel engine into.”
I’ve been a Cobra fanatic for over 50 years. — Lynn Park, a.k.a Mr. Cobra
The enterprising, young Californian found working at the service station provided Park with what seemed like a never ending supply of wrecked, theft and stripped vehicles.
“We hauled them to a nearby salvage yard where I started buying parts and eventually cars that I was able to return to service and make a nice profit on,” he explained.
“I’ve been a Cobra fanatic for over 50 years. One day my sister’s boyfriend who was a car nut, plopped a Road & Track magazine in front of me with a yellow Cobra on the cover,” Lynn explained. H”e said, ‘Here’s your car, a Ford powered sports car.’” At this moment Lynn was snake-bit.
A student at UCLA at the time, Lynn was at Shelby’s Venice facility the next week.
“I couldn’t afford to buy a Cobra anymore than I could fly, but the people at Shelby American, including Shelby himself, must have thought I could because they treated me like a king,” he confessed.
Over the next couple of years Lynn was a regular at the Shelby American shop learning about Cobras and even purchasing a 1960 AC Aceca with the help of some of the shop employees.
“We put a 289 in it, and I had my own budget ‘Cobra,’ Lynn said.
Lynn successfully campaigned the AC on the local drag circuit until joining the Army as a medic in 1967.
“I returned to civilian life a few years later and immediately starting looking for a Cobra,” he said.
Armed with a keen eye and plenty of experience, Lynn located a slightly wrecked 289 Cobra at a local body shop. “It took a while to restore but when it was done it was beautiful.”
Firmly established as a Cobra fanatic, Lynn was in constant search of Cobra projects. For his efforts, Lynn amassed a jaw-dropping collection of original cars.
“I became a constant customer at Mike McCluskey’s Cobra restoration shop and with his expertise, finished one car after another,” he added.
Lynn, who credits McCluskey as a master Cobra craftsman, added “working with Mike was not only productive but very educational as well.”
The Snake Pit
Today, Lynn owns an eye-popping array of vintage, Shelby-built snakes with a few replicas and hot rods mixed in for fun.
“I’ve never been in pursuit of a car that has gotten away, although there have been a few that I thought I should have bought but didn’t,” he told us. “I tell people just getting into the hobby to be sure that you really like the car that they are getting, and not just buying one to be one of the guys.”
Showing no signs of slowing down, the energetic Lynn said, “I have been racing Cobras for over 35 years in various historic races and now with my two sons participating, it’s more fun than ever.”
Along with wife of 48 years Susie, the Lynn is also a fixture of the Cobra 1,000, a multi-state, 1,000-mile cruise that draws dozens of original Cobras through all kinds of weather.
With 50 years of cockpit time under his belt you would expect Lynn has a story or two to share. The unassuming snake charmer, however, gives the top spot to winning the first “Best Ford” award that was given at the Monterey Historic Races in 1983 and then, winning it again in 2016 with three cars and his two sons.
With a collection most would give their eyeteeth for, Lynn says there is still one that eludes him.
“I’d love to have a Cobra Daytona,” he confessed. “That car just the epitome of what a Cobra should be.”
Given his knack for finding these gems, it’s only a matter of time…