Cobras set to invade Descanso Gardens

They don’t taste just like chicken, but the serpents taking over Descanso Gardens this Sunday are guaranteed to make your mouth water if you’re a fan of classic Cobra Roadsters.

Descanso Gardens will hold its first ever Cobra Roadster Show — Serpents in the Gardens — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. inside the gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada.

The show will feature 14 classic Cobra cars, as well as activities for children and adults, including a “snake hunt” where kids can answer trivia questions and win one of the about 350 Hot Wheels car prizes, and a reptile show by Joe Python and the Reptile Family, beginning at 1 p.m.

Cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $3 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 years old and younger.

Although there are lots of car shows around the area throughout the year, this show is expected to be particularly special and interesting because of the wide range of Cobra owners expected to display their cars, said Brenda Rees, manager of public relations for Descanso Gardens.

“We’ve got a woman race car driver from Riverside bringing her Cobra and some families that made their own cars. It will be a cool, mish-mosh of people, united by the fact that they all love their Cobra cars,” Rees said.

One of the drivers who will bring his beloved vehicles to the show is La Cañada’s own Cobra aficionado, Lynn Park.

During the past several decades, Park, 65, has restored about 30 Cobras to pristine condition and is known to frequent car shows and historical car events across the United States with several of his cars, including his No. 97 blue and white colored, 1962 Cobra, the tenth Cobra ever built. Park owns about 10 Cobras, and will bring three to Descanso Gardens for the event.

Park has lived in La Cañada since 1964, and purchased his family home from his mother in 1981. At his home he has a garage built to accommodate his passion for the cars. In addition to loving working on Cobras, Park enjoys sharing his wealth of knowledge about the cars, which were built from 1962 to 1966. A total of 1,000 Cobras were built, designed by the legendary former race car driver Carroll Shelby.

Later, the Ford Motor Company utilized the fame of the classic Cobras by commissioning other cars to be built with the Cobra name, including the Cobra II, which was made famous by Farrah Fawcett during the television series Charlie’s Angels.

However, those cars aren’t the same as the classic Cobra Roadster, a two-seat sports car design, Park said, adding, “The Cobra Roadster is as much fun as a sports car can be.”

The idea for the Serpents in the Gardens event was the brainchild of Dan Ziol, of Pasadena, who also is a Cobra enthusiast.

“I was walking through Descanso Gardens with a friend one day and thought about the idea of the original serpent in the Garden of Eden,” Ziol said, adding that it somehow seemed fitting to bring Cobra cars to Descanso, which is much like a perfect Garden of Eden.

“We’re playing on a theme here and a Cobra Roadster is about as evil as a car can be. They are loud, obnoxious, ill-handling and frightening,” he said.

However, even someone who knows those facts can love the classic vehicle, he added.

Ziol will be bringing his Cobra Roadster replica to the show.

His car has a 1996 engine and drive train, but retains the outer beauty of an original 1965 Cobra.

In addition to five original Cobras and some replicas, the event will feature a one-quarter scale Cobra miniature for kids to sit inside and have their picture taken and a Cobra car with no outer shell, so people can understand what is underneath the car, Ziol said.

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