I originally had the Cobra 19 but it shorted out. Specifically, the transmit function shorted out. The receive continued to work. The reason why is because I didn't have it grounded and was getting a SWR reading of about 5. So, what they say is true - an SWR too high CAN ruin the radio... Of course, I didn't realize the SWR was that high until I replaced the CB and tested it (read on).
With that said, I also ran the Midland 1001z (also a cheap/basic model) without the ground and it survived (it didn't fry). Ultimately I figured it all out when I picked up an SWR meter and tested it. I properly grounded my CB and now I get a SWR reading of about 1.2... MUCH better.. I am still using the Midland 1001z.
I am using a 4 foot Firestick II (model FS4-B) with the Teraflex Spare Tire mounting bracket. The mounting bracket is grounded to the frame. The CB radio is mounted to the center console along the side, facing up (driver's side). I used the mounting bracket that the CB came with.
I can take some pics if you'd like to see it - I don't have any readily available..
In all fairness, I can't say for certain that the Cobra is "cheaper quality" but I will say this about it - I found the LCD VERY hard to read (impossible to read if you're at even a slight angle).. The Midland is 10 times easier to read the digital display. Other than that, I think they are pretty similar radios..
My next radio is going to be the Cobra 29 LX LE 50th Anniversary CB Radio. Badass, but hard to find right now.. I'm waiting until I get the Tuffy overhead console first (this is a full sized CB radio) for a proper installation..