When Mike Peisach wants something, he makes it.
At the beginning of his sophomore year in high school, Peisach, an Engineering freshman, embarked on a mission to recreate the Shelby Cobra, a British-built-and-designed car from the 1960s. By the end of his senior year, he finished and then auctioned the car off for $111,000.
The original car was considered “the best car of its time,” said Peisach, as it was “extremely fast, stylish and sexy. A classic car.”
The Cobra is featured in many films, including Iron Man and Bad Boys 2, and is an icon of its time. Originals sell for up to $2 million in current markets.
Peisach began his project at the behest of his father, who jokingly suggested that he build a car to fulfill his “obsession with cars.”
An auto aficionado, Peisach took his father seriously and started a two-year intensive project. He personally approached companies and individuals for sponsorship and was ultimately sponsored by Wences Casares, an Argentinian business man who lent him $60,000.
Over the next two years, Peisach worked diligently — four hours per day during the week and six hours per day on the weekends.
Peisach built the car from the bottom up, starting on a basic skeleton and ending with a finished car. He bought a manual for the car, but mostly researched the mechanisms involved himself.
The only part Peisach did not finish himself was the paint job. “I’m no painter — had I painted it, no one would have bought the car.”
“I’ve always been good at building stuff,” Peisach said, “I really like playing around with things and having little challenges.”
Throughout the process, he messed up a few times and had to reorder parts.
A mechanic came once a week to ensure that he was building an efficient and safe vehicle.
The final car was lighter than a Porsche and had 500 horsepower. It is one of few cars that can accelerate to the same speeds as a motorcycle.
Once Peisach had to sell the car, he had a “really hard time” letting go. The car was auctioned off on the worst day of the economy, and still sold for $111,000 to Tim Draper, exceeding Peisach’s expectations.
He donated the money to Endeavor, a nonprofit organization that helps young entrepreneurs in emerging markets. He was subsequently awarded the Youngest Entrepreneur Worldwide by Endeavor.
At Penn, Peisach has taken a few mechanical engineering classes, as he enjoys making things that are like “a smaller version of the car.”
Peisach intends on continuing his entrepreneurial work after college, particularly in a way that involves business and engineering. He also wants to continue building cars after Penn.