Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini, and Koenigsegg and the likes might be the Legends of today. But even before them, there were cars took the world by storm when they came out. Every child knows about the big and famous brands of today, but only true car lovers know and value the masterpieces of the older times. That said do you remember the AC Cobra? The American sports car that is rocking an American engine and transmission in a British roadster. This was the AC Shelby Cobra.
Let’s start with Carroll Shelby. He was a professional racer, who won the 24 hours Le Mans. But due to health conditions, he was forced to retire at the age of 37. Shelby had dreamed of building sports cars under his name even before he officially started racing. Till he reached his sixties, the dream remained as is. He started building cars in the back of a ty\re dealership in Santa de Springs, California. He wanted to build an American Sports car, but many others had tried and failed. Still, Shelby thought that he could do it better.
Carroll’s other business ventures didn’t prove to be very successful. He was not content with just being known as a racer. He wanted more: A desire to build an American Sportscar. In 1961 AC Cars in England announced they would be discontinuing the production of the AC Ace model, since the engine – Bristol six-cylinder – was no longer available. This was ideal for Shelby; he realised that the light and nimble British roadster could be the very thing he needed for an American engine. At first, he went to General Motors but was unfortunately refused; they already had the Corvette. But to his delight, Ford was looking for a new model to compete with on the market.
AC cars were contacted at once. They were told that Ford was ready to provide their engine if they sent over a body. With the AC car body and Ford’s 260 cu in. V-8 engine, Carroll Shelby worked overnight with a friend to install the V-8 into the British car. By morning the first Shelby
was ready. He was ready for a mark II version. Later the engine was replaced by a Ford 289 cu in. And then with a Ford V-8 427 cu in. turning the car into a monster.
The AC Cobra proved to be the fastest American roadster in every aspect. With a four-speed manual transmission, the Cobra 427 was aggressively fast even for today. Reaching 0-60 mph in a little over 4 seconds and 0-100 mph in 10.3 seconds. The Cobra remains loved and desired by car enthusiasts.