The AC Cobra, often referred to simply as the "Shelby Cobra", has gone through a difficult history before becoming legendary and conquering the whole world. In this article, we will take a closer look at the model and touch on the history of the manufacturer's company.
How it all began
So, AC was founded back in 1990 by two men - a young engineer named John Waller and investor John Portwine. The first name of the company sounded like Autocars and Accesories LTD. In 1907, when the company located its facilities on the outskirts of London, its name was changed to Autocarriers ltd. At first, the company was mainly engaged in three-wheeled vehicles with 5.6-liter single-cylinder engines. These vehicles were designed for freight transport.
Gradually the company mastered the production of engines and in 1918 participated in the development of a 4-cylinder engine with a double camshaft on the head, and in 1920 - a 6-cylinder aluminum engine with a capacity of 35 horsepower. In 1922, the company changed its name again and became known as AC Cars Ltd. Under this name, in 1926, she won the Monte Carlo Rally.
Things were hard then, and despite the company's success, it went bankrupt and fell into the hands of Charles and William Harlock. In addition to sports cars, the brothers produced wheelchairs and other household items. However, the new line of sports cars, called ACE, was not long in coming.
In 1952, the Harlocks met an English engineer named John Tojeiro and bought from him for five pounds the right to a car that he had developed 30 years ago. As a result, a year later, a new ACE was presented at the London Motor Show.
By the mid-50s, 6-cylinder Bristol engines began to be installed on the company's cars, thanks to which the brand achieved success in competitions called the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1959, AC Bristol pilots and Carroll Shelby met on the same competitions on the podium. From this moment on, the joint work of Shelby and AS begins.
History of the Shelby Cobra
Sports cars, unlike ordinary cars, are aimed at only one thing - high speed. It is achieved in every possible way. Here, little thought is given to the comfort of the cabin, but much attention is paid to ergonomics. And what exactly no one thinks about is saving. Materials are used that are ideally suited for a particular purpose, no matter how much they cost. After all, a good sports car can pay for itself 100 times over. When Shelby offered his services to AC Cars, she was already ready to create the best car - fabulously expensive and fast. But such a view, as in the photo below, the carwill not gain immediately.
At that time, one of the most successful models of the small company AC Cars was the ACE roadster. It had an aluminum body, which was assembled by hand, and a spatial steel tubular frame. Meanwhile in the US, ambitious race car driver Carroll Shelby dreamed of a partnership with AC Cars. And when Bristol stopped making engines used in the flagship ACE model, Shelby suggested that the British company put American-made V-8 engines in their sports cars in the future. Initially, Shelby planned to order the engine from Chevrolet, but negotiations stalled. A pleasant surprise was the quick agreement of another American company - Ford. In fact, the Americans saw such cooperation as a personal benefit - they wanted to make a car that could overtake the Chevrolet Corvette, which was super popular at that time in America. So the ACE model received the most powerful Ford Windsor 260 HiPo engine.
In 1962, the Cobra Mk I was created - the first chassis prototype with a "Ford" engine. In the same year, the first batch of Cobras rolled off the assembly line, consisting of 75 copies. The car faced a wave of criticism, and the designers, who at that time had already settled in California, began to modernize the car in the Cobra Shelby workshop. In 1963, the Cobra Mk II saw the light - an improved version of the model with a 4.7-liter engine. It was released in the amount of 500 copies.
A little later, an even more powerful version of the model appeared, with an engine capacity of 427 cubic inches. ATcar strengthened the suspension and expanded the chassis. She was called Cobra Mk III, but everyone remembered her as a Shelby Cobra 427 car. It was originally intended for racing, but the creators decided to open it to the masses. With a power of 540 horsepower, the model became the fastest production car. Her popularity grew rapidly, as did the number of victories. Cobra has conquered such races as Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring, and this is not all of its achievements.
In March 1967, the last copy of the legend was released, and production was stopped. The reason is a change in environmental standards and vehicle safety requirements.
Today, the Shelby Cobra is one of the most coveted cars in the collection of retro cars. The original copy will cost the buyer hundreds of thousands of dollars. A brighter and more memorable car of the 1960s simply does not exist. Let's take a closer look at all three generations of the legend.
The first and second generation of the Shelby Cobra
The first version of the car appeared due to the fact that Carroll Shelby was able to convince the AC company that by putting a V-8 engine on the tubular chassis of the AC ACE model, you can get a powerful and extraordinary sports car. The first Shelby Cobra, the photo of which is presented above, received a 4.2-liter engine and 4 disc brakes. And Goodyear has produced special tires for the Cobra.
The chassis and body were made in the UK by AC Cars, and the engines were made in the USA. The car developed a power of 260 horsepower.Literally a year later, the second generation of the model appeared, which already developed 306 hp. With. thanks to the 4.7 liter engine.
Legendary third generation
Modification 427 made the Shelby Cobra a real legend. She combined all the best developments of the "big sisters" and new ideas of people who love their job. At one time, she was listed in the Guinness Book of Records due to the increase in speed to 100 miles / hour in 9.8 seconds. It was this model that inspired many imitators to produce replicas similar to it. By the way, the Soviet ZIL 112C is frankly copied from the Cobra, at least in terms of design. All 427s were assembled at A Cat Thames Ditton in England between 1965 and 1967. However, none of them was bought at home. The thing is that the inhabitants of a country in which it is constantly raining and gasoline is becoming more expensive did not want to spend money on a car in the back of a convertible, and even with such a brutal appetite. The Americans were also in no hurry to buy a car, and before falling into the hands of a mere mortal (not a racer), the car stood in the cabin for 16 months.
A little about Carroll Shelby
Extraordinary charisma and a high level of professional skills allowed this man to stand out in the face of fierce competition and achieve cooperation with the largest automobile companies. At the same time, the Shelby Cobra car was built by a small English company in a friendly atmosphere.people who were crazy about racing and good cars.
As a typical American, Shelby went through many occupations before becoming a racing driver and sports car manufacturer. He began his professional career as a summer instructor for the US Air Force during the war. After that, he tried his hand at a transport company, the oil business, and even a chicken farm. However, none of these activities brought Carroll either happiness or a normal income.
In early 1952, at the age of 29, Shelby took part in the first races. From that moment on, he no longer saw himself in any other occupation. As a result, the young racer reached Formula 1 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Due to heart problems, he was forced to stop his racing career in 1960, but the man's passion for the car remained forever. When the Cobra story ended, Shelby continued to work with Ford, inspiring its engineers for more than half a century to create really worthwhile cars. Throughout his life, the great motorist remained a fan of his work and participated in the creation of the best cars. At the age of 88, he tested the most powerful Mustang in history for 5 hours.
Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra
In 2013, the Monterey Peninsula celebrated Shelby's 50th anniversary. The event was of particular importance, since the great Carroll Shelby died in May of the same year. As a tribute to the memory of the legendary racing driver and designer, Ford and Shelby have teamed up again to createunique Mustang model.
The car received a very wide body, massive 13-inch wide wheels, a 5.8-liter V-8 engine and a power of as much as 850 horsepower. In the best traditions of the English company, the car was painted blue with two parallel stripes running along the center of the upper body. According to Shelby representatives, they intend to smuggle the model across the country and then sell it at a charity auction.
Jim Farley, board member of Ford Motor Company who introduced the Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra, said the unique car they created will reflect Carroll Shelby's vision to turn the Shelby GT500 into a real Cobra.
The story of the Shelby Cobra was such a difficult and fascinating story, the characteristics of which still surprise and inspire. "Cobra" is not just a car, it is a huge breakthrough in the automotive industry. And despite the short history of the production of the model, the memory of it and the genius who created it will remain in the hearts of motorists for many years. The Cobra is a true American muscle car - luxurious, fast, slightly selfish and extremely attractive.