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Local student-built Shelby Cobra dazzles at state convention

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Students from the Charles H. Bohlen Jr. Technical Center showed off their talent to school board members from all corners of the state last month.

The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services’ student-built Shelby Cobra MK3 Roadster replica was featured at the New York State School Boards Association convention Oct. 25 to 27 in Rochester.

BOCES centers throughout the state had displays at the convention, but Bohlen Technical Center Principal Russell K. Berger said the slick black and silver sports car was put in a prominent location.

“It is easy to say it was the star attraction,” Mr. Berger said. “For us, the Cobra was a natural selection for us to take. It is a very good example of what we can do in career and technical education.”

The kit car was bought in 2006 for $14,000 from Factory Five Racing, Connecticut, and was supplemented with parts from a Ford Mustang GT.

Mr. Berger said a similar car was auctioned for $27,000 through Mecum Auctions but is uncertain about the BOCES car’s value.

“I’ve seen them run for $25,000 to $35,000,” Mr. Berger said. “This one, the paint job and quality is over the top. I would say the value of the car is what the students get out of building it.”

The Bohlen Technical Center uses the car for as many classes as possible, including auto tech, auto body, visual communications, welding and electrical wiring.

The roadster will continue to be worked on. It originally was painted orange and silver by the class that first worked on it. During the last two years, however, the auto body students reworked the car, changing the colors again. Mr. Berger said he would have said yes to a pink car if the students asked, because the entire project from start to finish is student built.

“It will probably change again as students continue to work on it,” he said. “Right now, there’s no thought of raffling it off.”

In addition to using the car for education, Mr. Berger has taken it to promotional events and open houses throughout Jefferson and Lewis counties to attract more students to the Bohlen Technical Center.

Two auto body students, Belleville Henderson senior Charles H.L. Moore and South Jefferson senior Joseph J. Overton, helped paint and buff the car last year and were chosen to go to the conference because they showed the most interest.

Both said all of their class projects, including a Chevrolet sedan, an original Daytona 500 race car and a Toyota pickup, are interesting and engaging.

“You have fun in class, but you’re learning something you can use for the rest of your life,” Mr. Moore said.

In Rochester, they set up the car in the showroom and answered questions from inquisitive board members.

“The were all shocked that it was just students that built it,” Mr. Moore said.

Some convention-goers mistakenly thought the car was being raffled off.

“A lot of people wanted to drive it home,” Mr. Berger said. “They said they would look good driving it.”

The Shelby Cobra will be displayed during the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES Technical Center’s open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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