AC Cobra

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50th Annyversary Cobra Leemitit Edition CSX8000.

The AC Cobra, also known as the Shelby Cobra, is an Anglo-American sports car that was produced during the 1960's.

History an development[eedit | eedit soorce]

Like many British specialist manufacturers, AC Cars had been singn the smooth, refined Bristol straight-6 engine in its small-volume production, including its AC Ace 2-seater roadster. This had a haund-biggit body with a steel tube frame, an aluminum body panels that are made singn Inglis wheelin machines. The ingine wis a pre-Warld War II design o BMW which bi the 1960's was considered dated. Bristol decided in 1961 to cease production of its engine an instead to uise Chrysler 331 cid (5.4 L) V8 ingines. Awtho untrue, it is commonly believed that AC was left wioot a future soorce o pouer an that American ex-racing driver Carroll Shelby saved the company frae bankruptcy. AC startit uisin the 2.6 litre Ford Zephyr ingine in its cars. In September 1961, Shelby airmailed AC a letter askin them if thay wad big him a caur modified to accept a V8 ingine. AC agreed, providit a suitable ingine coud be foond. He first went to Chevrolet to see if thay wad provide him with ingines, but not wantin to add competition t the Corvette thay said nae. Ford houiver, wantit a caur that coud compete wi the Corvette an thay happened to hae a brand new thin-wall sma-block ingine which coud be uised in this endeavor. It wis Ford's 260 in³ HiPo (4.2 L) ingine - a new lightweight, thin-wall cast sma-block V8 tuned for hie performance. In Januar 1962 mechanics at AC Cars in Thames Ditton, Surrey fittit the prototype chassis CSX0001 wi a 221ci Ford V8. Efter testin an modification, the ingine an transmission were removed an the chassis wis air-freightit tae Shelby in Los Angeles on 2 Februar 1962..[1] His team fittitedt wi an ingine an transmission in less nor aicht oors at Dean Moon's shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, an began road-testin.

Production proved tae be easy, syne AC haed awready made maist o the modifications needit for the sma'-block V8 whan thay installed the 2.6 litre Ford Zephyr ingine, includin the extensive rework o the AC Ace's front end. The maist important modification wis the fittin o a stranger rear differential tae haundle the increased ingine pouer. A Salisbury 4HU unit wi inboard disk brakes tae reduce unsprung wecht wis chosen insteid o the auld ENV unit. It wis the same unit uised on the Jaguar E-Type. On the production version, the inboard brakes were moved ootboard tae reduce cost. The anerlie modification o the front end o the first Cobra frae that o the AC Ace 2.6 wis the steerin box, which haed tae be moved ootward tae clear the wider V8 motor.

The first 75 Cobra Mark I (includin the prototype) were fittit wi the 260 ingine (4.2 L). The remainin 51 Mark I model were fittit wi a lairger version o the Windsor Ford ingine, the 289 in³ (4.7 L) V8. In late 1962 Alan Turner, AC's chief engineer completit a major design chynge o the caur's front end an wis able tae fit it wi rack an pinion steerin while still uisin transverse leaf spring suspension. The new caur entered production in early 1963 an wis designatit Mark II. The steerin rack wis borrowed frae the MGB while the new steerin column cam frae the VW Beetle. Aboot 528 Mark II Cobras were producit tae the simmer o 1965 (the last US-boond Mark II wis produced in November 1964).

Bi 1963 the leaf-spring Cobra wis losin its supremacy in racin. Shelby tried fittin a lairger Ford FE ingine o 390 in³. Ken Miles drove an raced the FE-powered Mark II an pronoonced the caur wis virtually undrivable, namin it "The Turd." A new chassis wis developed an designatit Mark III.

The new caur wis designed in cooperation wi Ford in Detroit, Michigan. A new chassis wis biggit uisin 4" main chassis tubes (up frae 3") an coil spring suspension aw aroond. The new caur an aa haed wide fenders an a lairger radiator openin. It wis pouered bi the "side oiler" Ford 427 ingine (7.0 L) ratit at 425 bhp which providit a tap speed o 164 mph (262 km/h) in the standard model an 485 bhp wi a tap speed o 185 mph in the competeetion model. Cobra Mark III production began on 1 Januar 1965; twa prototypes haed been sent tae the Unitit States in October 1964. Cars were sent tae the US as unpaintit rollin chassis, an thay were finished in Shelby's workshop. Awtho an impressive automobile, the caur wis a financial failure an did no sell well. In fact tae save cost, maist AC Cobra 427s were actually fittit wi Ford's 428 in³ (7.0 L) ingine, a lang stroke, smawer bore, lawer cost ingine, intendit for road uise rather than racin. It seems that a tot o 300 Mark III cars were sent tae Shelby in the USA during the years 1965 an 1966, includin the competeetion version. 27 sma' block nairae fender version which were referred tae as the AC 289 were sauld in Europe. Unfortunately, The MK III missed homologation for the 1965 racin saison an wis na raced bi the Shelby team. Houever, it wis raced successfully bi mony privateers an went on tae win races aw the wey intae the 70s. Interestingly, 31 unsold competeetion cars were detuned an made road worthy an cawed S/C for semi-competeetion. The day, thir ar the rarest an the maist valuable models an can sell for in excess o 1.5 million dollars.

AC Shelby Cobra

The AC 427 (i.e. the Mark III) dimensions were: oweraw lenth o 14.583 feet (4.445 m), oweraw width o 5.583 ft (1.702 m), height (wi its removable tap in place) o 4.250 ft (1.295 m), turnin circle o 34 ft (10.363 m), wheelbase o 8.00 feet (2.438 m), front track o 4.50 ft (1.372 m) an rear track o 4.417 ft (1.346 m). Its fuel tank held 18 imperial gallons an its empty wecht wis approximately 2,300 lb (1044 kg).

AC Cobras haed an extensive racin career. Shelby wanted it tae be a "Corvette-Beater" an at nearly 500 lb less nor the Chevrolet Corvette, the lichtweight caur did juist that. The Cobra wis perhaps too successfu as a performance caur an reputedly contreibutit aeo the implementation o naitional speed leemits in the Unitit Kinrick. An AC Cobra Coupe wis calculated tae hae done 186 mph on the M1 motorway in 1964, driven bi Jack Sears an Peter Bolton during shakedown tests prior tae that year's Le Mans 24h race.[2]. Houiver, govrenment offeecials hae cited the increasin accident daith rate in the early 1960s as the principal motivation, wi the exploits o the AC Cars team merely hichtlichtin the risk.

Awtho successfu in racin, the AC Cobra wis a financial failure, which led Ford an Carroll Shelby tae discontinue importin cars frae Ingland in 1967. AC Cars kept producin the coil spring AC Roadster wi nairae fenders, a sma' block Ford 289 an cried the caur the AC 289. It wis biggit an sauld in Europe till late 1969. This caur wi modifications wad appear again in 1982 as the Autokraft MkIV, basically an AC MkIII caur wi a 5.0L Ford V8 an Borg Warner T5 Transmission. AC an aa produced the AC Frua till 1973. The AC Frua wis biggit on a stretched Cobra 427 MK III coil spring chassis uisin a vera angular handsome steel body designed an biggit bi Pietro Frua. Wi the demise o the Frua, AC went on building lesser cars an eventually fell intae bankruptcy in the late 1970s'. The company's toolin an eventually the right tae uise the name, were licensed bi Autocraft, a Cobra pairts reseller an replica caur manufacturer awned bi Brian A. Angliss. Autocraft wis manufacturing an AC 289 continuation caur cried the Mark IV. Shortly thereafter, Carroll Shelby filed suit against AC Cars an Brian A. Angliss, in U.S. Destrict Court in Los Angeles. The ensuin dounset resultit in Shelby an AC Cars/Angliss releasin a jynt press release wherebi AC/Angliss acknowledged that Carroll Shelby wis (an is) the manufacturer o record o aw the 1960s AC Cobra automobiles in the Unitit States an that Shelby himself is the sole person allowed tae caw his caur a Cobra. Carroll Shelby's company Shelby Automobiles, Inc. continues tae manufacture the Shelby Cobra FIA 289 an 427 S/C vehicles in various forms at its facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thir cars retain the general style an appearance o thair oreeginal 1960s ancestors, but ar fittit wi modren amenities.

Coupé[eedit | eedit soorce]

1964 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe (CSX2299)
1965 Willment Cobra

In an effort tae improve tap speed alang the legendary Mulsanne Straight at the 24 Hours o Le Mans race, a nummer o enclosed, coupe variations wur constructit uisin the leafspring chassis an runnin gear o the AC/Shelby Cobra Mark II. The maist famous an numerous o thir wur the offeecial works Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupes. Sax wur constructit in tot, each bein subtly different frae the rest. AC an aa produced a Le Mans coupe. The caur wis a ane-off an wis nearly destroyed efter a hie-speed tire blow-oot at the 1964 Le Mans race. The caur wis completely rebuilt an as o nou is in private awnership in Ingland. The third significant Cobra-based coupe wis the Willment Cobra Coupe biggit bi the JWA racin team. A road-goin Shelby Daytona Cobra replica is bein manufactured bi Superformance an Factory Five Racing, a well kent kit caur company. Thir caurs uise Pete Brock's bodywork designs, scaled up tae increase room inside, an a newly designed spaceframe chassis, thay ar pouered bi Roush-biggit Ford Windsor (Sportsman) ingines. The Superformance Shelby Daytona Coupe is the anerlie modren-day vehicle recognised bi Shelby as a successor tae the oreeginal Coupes.

Continuation caurs[eedit | eedit soorce]

Frae the late 1980s onwards, Carroll Shelby an associated companies hae biggit what ar kent in the hobby as "Continuation Caurs", Shelby authorized continuations o the oreeginal AC bodied Shelby Cobra series. Initially the caur everyane wantit in a Continuation wis a 427 S/C model which wis representit in the CSX4000 series. This wis meant tae continue whaur the last 427 S/C production left off, at approximately serial nummer CSX3560 in the 1960s.

The initial CSX4000 series caurs wur completit frae new auld stock as well as newly manufactured pairts. Gradually as the vintage pairts supply ran law, newly biggit frames an body panels wur obtained frae a variety o suppliers. The production o chassis nummers CSX4001 tae CSX4999 teuk roughly 20 years an mony different business relationships tae complete.

Aw models o Cobra produced ar available nou as continuations. In 2009, CSX4999 wis produced, concludin the 4000 series. Production haes continued wi the CSX6000 serial nummers, featurin "coil over" suspension. The 289 FIA "leaf spring" race version o the caur is reproduced as CSX7000, an the oreeginal "slab side" leaf spring street caur is the CSX8000 series.

Tae date maist continuations ar produced in feebreglass, wi some orderin caurs wi aluminum or carbon feebre bodywork.

In 2004, at the North American Internaitional Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled a concept for a modernized Shelby Cobra. The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept wis a continuation o Ford's effort tae bring back the retro sports caurs that haed been successfu in the 1960s, includin the Ford GT40 an the fift generation Ford Mustang.

Super Snake[eedit | eedit soorce]

Competition 427, (CSX3009) "Ollie the Dragon"

Shelby Motors biggit twintie twa 427 competeetion roadsters. In 1965, ane wis selectit an convertit intae a special model cried the 427 "Cobra tae End Aw Cobras." The first ane o thir (nummer CSX3015) wis oreeginally pairt o a European promotional tour afore its conversion. This conversion cawed for makin the oreeginal racin model street legal wi mufflers, a windshield an bumpers amangst ither modifications. But some things wur no modified, includin the racin rear end, brakes an headers. The maist notable modification is the addition o Twin Paxton Superchargers. This gae the caur a claimed 462 brake horsepouer (bhp) an 800 Ft pounds o torque at 3000 rpm. Offeecially 0 tae 60 mph wis achieved in 4.5 seconds, awtho thare ar reports o this bein achieved in little ower 3 seconds.

Anither non-competeetion 427 roadster, CSX3303, wis convertit an gien tae Shelby's close friend, Bill Cosby. Cosby attemptit tae drive the super-fast Cobra, but haed issues wi keepin it unner control. This wis humorously documentit in Cosby's album titled Bill Cosby, 200 M.P.H.. Cosby gae the caur back tae Shelby, who then shipped it oot tae ane o thair dealers in San Francisco, S&C Ford on Van Ness Avenue. S&C Ford then sauld it tae customer Tony Maxey. Maxey, sufferin the same issues as Cosby did wi the caur, lost control an drove it off o a cliff, landin in the Paceefic Ocean waters[3]. It is tae be notit that Maxey's accident wis lairgely speculatit as suicide. It wis eventually recovered an the wreckage wis bought bi Brian Angliss o AC/Autokraft. Syne CSX3303 wis sae badly damaged in the Maxey accident, it is doubtful that muckle o the oreeginal caur will surface in the restored version.

Shelby's oreeginal model, CSX3015, wis kept bi Carroll Shelby himself ower the years as a personal caur, whiles enterin it intae local races lik the Turismos Visitadores Cannonball-Run race in Nevada, whaur he wis "wakin [up] whole touns, blowin oot windows, throwin belts an catchin fire a couple o times, but finishin." CSX3015 wis auctioned off on 22 Januar 2007 at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Caur Event in Scottsdale, Arizona for $5 million plus commission. This wad be a record for Cobras, as well as for a Barrett-Jackson sell price.

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. Friedman, Dave: "Shelby Cobra: the Shebly American color archives", chapter 1, MBI Publishing Company, ISBN 0-87938-757-2
  2. "185mph on the British motorway in 1963 - the real story from Jack Sears". Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  3. "Barrett-Jackson Lot: 1301 - 1966 SHELBY COBRA 427 "SUPER SNAKE"".

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]