AC Cobra (above photo)
1962 - 1968
Much has been written about the Cobra, so only a few details will be presented here. Of the 260 and 289 version, there were 651 built. There were 401 of the Cobra 427 version. Of unique versions, there were six Dayton Coupes, one Willment Cobra Coupe and one AC Cobra Coupe. Cars destined for the USA were prefixed CSX. Those for the UK or Europe were COX, COB or CSB MA. A "2" as the first number in the serial number designated a leaf spring car, while a "3" was for coil spring cars.
In October of 1961, American racing driver Carroll Shelby contacted AC cars with the notion of fitting a 4.2-litre V-eight Ford engine into their light alloy Ace sport scar. AC agreed and by March 1962 a prototype was built. Enter the Cobra, the world's truly first pocket rocket.
The first cars were fitted with the 4.2-litre engine and the now famous top-loader gearbox, not long after a 4.7-litre unit was fitted. This boosted power from 165 to almost 200 bhp and a top speed of 140 mph. More stunning was the acceleration 0-60mph in just over 5 seconds. This was the first Cobra for Britain, introduced in 1964
Shelby was still not satisfied; in 1965 he managed to squeeze a 7-litre unit under the hood, 350bhp in standard form, or race tuned to give 490bhp. This was now the world's fastest accelerating production car, 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds
In reality the 7-litre version was really an all-new Cobra, but it did share the doors and the bonnet with the earlier 289 cars. The chassis was totally new and much stiffer; the suspension was also brought up-to-date using coil springs rather than the old leaf springs. Production of Cobras stopped in 1968. However Brian Angliss revived the car in 1983 - The MkIV Cobra
Carroll Shelby, by most accounts, is considered the man behind the Cobra*. Born in Texas, Shelby thrived unbounded mechanical horsepower that truly challenged the element of speed.
When Shelby heard of A.C. Cars, a small overseas manufacturer that produced highly-styled European sports cars, and then of Ken Rudd, a special builder who dropped oversized British Ford Zephyr engines into A.C. chassis, he knew his concept of a high-horsepower sports car was possible.
Immediately he contacted the Hurlock brothers, A.C. Cars' owners, who agreed to use of their body design. At the same time, the Ford Motor Company produced a lightweight, cast-iron engine block. Shelby wrote to Ford and received permission to use the 260cid engine cost free for 'developmental purposes.' Soon, the Hurlocks in Britain, and Shelby's team in the U.S. were busy redesigning the A.C. chassis to accommodate the big American V-8 engine. When Ford's 289cid engine became available, Shelby American, as his company was called, quickly nabbed it.
With a 385 bhp 289 engine, the Cobra* made its racing debut in late '62 at Riverside Speedway, California with driver Billy Krause. In 1963, the Cobra* had its first significant racing victory at the National SCCA meet, taking first, second and third place to the Corvettes' 4/5/6.
In 1964 Ford presented the 427cid engine to Shelby American, who then proceeded to rebuild the 289 Cobra* chassis. On the racing circuit, Ferrari, Corvette, and Porsche were looking at the Cobra's* tail end more often than not.
Brief History to date
On the international field that same year, the 289 Daytona coupes (racing Cobras*) brought the 1965 World Manufacturer's Championship for GE Cars to an American manufacturer (Ford) for the first time. After that, America saw the 427 Cobra* take the SCCA's A/Production class four glorious years in a row, and once again in '73. At the end of '65, the Cobra* was taken out of FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) European competition to make room for Ford's newest baby, the GT40. But, Shelby had accomplished what he set out to do -- successfully bring together American brute horsepower and European styling.
By combining the 427 Cobra's* styling and road handling characteristics with improved driver ergonomics, Classic Roadsters has successfully created the Classic 427. Superior engineering, design, customer service and the strength of over 20 years at the forefront of the sportscar reproduction industry assures you of only the highest quality and value.
In early 1962, everything finally came together for Carroll Shelby and his American sports car project. AC Cars agreed to provide its lightweight and nimble chassis, Ford agreed to deliver its new 4.3-liter V8 engine, and along with Shelby's racing mind suddenly America had an incredibly successful sports car - for the street and the track. The Shelby Cobra was born.
The Shelby Cobra bested the world's racing elite and made its creator - racing driver, car builder, constructor and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby, a household name over the last four decades. Below is a brief timeline of a few events that made him the legend he is.
1962- Shelby creates the original Cobra Roadster, the fastest production car ever made at that time; 0-60 in 3.9 seconds
1965-Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, only American car ever to win the FIA World Manufacturer's Championship for GT cars, beating Europe's best; Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin
1970s-While consulting with Chrysler and Iacoca, Shelby brings to market the first "Fast and Furious" Pocket Rocket (the Plymouth GLH) with a small compact, lightweight power to weight ratio, high performance turbo engine.
1989-Shelby produces Cobra 427S/C Completion Cars. Shelby builds the first Viper chassis prototype
1991-Shelby launches Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation that finds heart transplants for indigent children. Shelby inducted into International MotorSports Hall of Fame
1992-Shelby inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Michigan
1995-Shelby produces CSX4000 Series 427 Cobra S/C Roadsters
1997-Shelby designs and manufacturers the Shelby Series 1 sports car
1998-Shelby creates the (Super Pursuit) S.P. 360 high performance sport utility vehicle.
1999-Shelby Cobra CSX2000 honored as Motor Trend Magazine's most significant car of the last 50 years. Shelby teams with Titan to produce Shelby custom motorcycle, Shelby Series 1 by Titan.
2001-Shelby claims triumph in battle to keep his famed Cobra racing car name and logo out of the hands of "replicar" counterfeiters, protecting the authenticity and collectability of the America's original muscle machine.
2002-Shelby's celebrates four decades of horsepower and venom as Cobra turns 40; Shelby introduces the 40th anniversary edition Shelby Cobra.
2003-Shelby is still hard at work manufacturing authentic Cobra roadsters and performance products; Shelby serves as a senior technical advisor to Ford's team developing the new Ford GT supercar, providing design and engineering support.
Today, the Cobra's legend and mystique endures, with original examples often trading for upwards of half a million dollars. Shelby American built 1,140 Cobras from 1962-1966 and the Cobra 427 is still considered one of the world's fastest automobiles. A straight 427 SC Cobra sells anywhere from $300-$500,000. Today, if you buy a component vehicle produced with the serial number, the price ranges from $90,000 to $125,000 plus, based on options. Shelby's Automobiles continue to maintain their market value.
Carroll Shelby (age: 80) is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Carroll Shelby International, Inc. Early in his career, Carroll Shelby's accomplishments as a driver was breaking land speed records at Bonneville in 1954 for Austin Healey and winning the 24-hours of LeMans in 1959. When his health caused him to abandon his driving in 1960, Carroll got out of the driver's seat and turned his attention to design. He had a vision for the automobile industry and went for it. Carroll's vision has had a tremendous impact on the sports car world, with the greatest impact being the development of the Cobra and the Mustang. As probably the only person to have worked at a visible level with all three of the major American automobile manufacturers, Shelby has clearly impacted the world of racing and automobile design. His influence will always have a place in automotive history.
John Luft is President of Carroll Shelby International Inc. He joined Carroll Shelby Licensing in 2000 after serving two years at SkyNet Holdings, Inc. as Sr. Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales and Business Development. Previously Mr. Luft held senior management positions in the areas of marketing and strategic development for such notable companies as Hilton Hotels Corp. and Walt Disney Company. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Mr. Luft holds a bachelors degree in Marketing and Speech Communications.
M. Neil Cummings is Secretary of Carroll Shelby International Inc. He has practiced law for the past 25 years and since 1995 has served as President of the Law Offices of M. Neil Cummings & Associates, PLC, a law firm located in Los Angeles that specializes in business and commercial law. Prior to his current position, Cummings was an associate and then a partner with the law firm of Walker, Wright, Tyler and Ward in Los Angeles from 1981 through 1995. He began his career as an associate at the Law Offices of Hardin, Cook, Loper, Engel & Bergez in Oakland, California from 1977 through 1981. Mr. Cummings is a 1974 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and earned his law degree from Hastings College of Law.
Carroll Shelby International Inc. (OTC BB:CSBI)