Car: Shelby Ac Cobra 427, 1962

The Cobra was “invented” by Carroll Shelby, a Texas farmer and racing fanatic, who aimed to concoct a sportsracing car that could stand up to Ferrari.

1962 Shelby AC Cobra
The Cobra was the acme of pure, high-performance sports cars; there were several versions and this one is the UK-market AC 289.

His method was to shoehorn a muscular Ford Fairlane V8 260ci (4,261cc) engine into the “hull” of AC’s Ace sports car. The simple, ladder-frame chassis and aluminum body were handbuilt in the UK by AC, and shipped unfinished to Shelby’s auto workshops in California where the engines from Ford were fitted.

1962 model of the car Shelby/Ac Cobra
1962 Shelby Ac Cobra 427

A sensation on the road, the Cobra was also born to race: the first British finisher at Le Mans in 1963, and scoring numerous victories in American events.

Ford later offered Shelby its bigger 289ci (4,736cc) engine but this was merely a stepping stone to the ultimate Cobra: the 427 of 1965. Conceived as a giant-killing race-winner, it boasted a big-block Ford Galaxie 500 V8. The 271bhp Cobra 289 was a performance legend, so this 427ci 425bhp (6,997cc) Cobra was phenomenal.

1962 model of the car Shelby/Ac Cobra
1966 car Shelby Ac Cobra 427

But despite a redesigned chassis and curved bodywork to accommodate fatter tires, the 427 had a short career: by 1965 it would have clashed with Ford’s own GT40. Then safety and environmental legislation killed the Cobra in 1968. Today, originals are highly prized. An “official” AC MkIV has been available since 1983.

“Stabbing the throttle at rest produces a crisp, staccato crackle, with the characteristic V8 beat and a violent surge in revs. The same procedure with first engaged, and the clutch home, sends the car rocketing forward like a missile from a steam catapult.”

Road Test Of Ac Cobra 289, Autocar Magazine, 1965

Video: Model Of The Car Shelby Ac Cobra 427

Specification: Model Of The Car Shelby Ac Cobra 427

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK, and Venice, California
HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
ENGINE: V8-cylinder, 260–427ci (4,261–6,997cc)
LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: two-door, two-seater roadster
TOP SPEED: 165mph (266kph)