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AC Cobra
Shelby Cobra

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing

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A sports car originally produced by AC Cars in the UK and imported to the United States by Shelby. A V8 adaptation of the AC Ace.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's AC Cobra page on 20 April 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The AC Cobra, sold as the Shelby Cobra in the United States, is an Anglo-American sports car with a Ford V8 engine, produced intermittently in both the UK and the US since 1962.

Like many British manufacturers, AC Cars had been using the Bristol straight-6 engine in its small-volume production, including its AC Ace two-seater roadster. This had a hand-built body with a steel tube frame, and aluminium body panels that were made using English wheeling machines. The engine was a pre-World War II design by BMW which by the 1960s was considered dated. Bristol decided in 1961 to cease production of its engine and instead to use Chrysler 313 cu in (5.1 L) V8 engines. AC started using the 2.6 litre Ford Zephyr engine in its cars.

In September 1961, American automotive designer Carroll Shelby wrote to AC asking if they would build him a car modified to accept a V8 engine. AC agreed, provided a suitable engine could be found. Shelby went to Chevrolet to see if they would provide him with engines, but not wanting to add competition to the Corvette they said no. However, Ford wanted a car that could compete with the Corvette and they happened to have a brand new engine which could be used in this endeavor: the Windsor 221 in³ (3.6 L) engine – a new lightweight, thin-wall cast small-block V8. Ford provided Shelby with two engines.

In January 1962 mechanics at AC Cars in Thames Ditton, Surrey designed the "AC Ace 3.6" prototype with chassis number CSX2000.

AC had already made most of the modifications needed for the small-block V8 when they installed the 2.6 litre inline 6 Ford Zephyr engine, including the extensive rework of the AC Ace's front end bodywork. The only modification of the front end of the first Cobra from that of the "AC Ace 2.6" was the steering box, which had to be moved outward to clear the wider V8 engine.

The most important modification was the fitting of a stronger rear differential to handle the increased engine power. A Salisbury 4HU unit with inboard disc brakes to reduce unsprung weight was chosen instead of the old E.N.V. unit. It was the same unit used on the Jaguar E-Type. After testing and modification, the engine and transmission were removed and the chassis was air-freighted to Shelby in Los Angeles on 2 February 1962, By this time the small-block's displacement was increased to 260 in3 (4.3 L).

Shelby's team paired this engine along with a transmission into CSX2000, in less than eight hours at Dean Moon's shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, and began road-testing.

In late 1962 Alan Turner, AC's chief engineer completed a major design change of the car's front end to accommodate rack and pinion steering while still using transverse leaf spring suspension. The new car entered production in early 1963 and was designated Mark II. The steering rack was borrowed from the MGB while the new steering column came from the VW Beetle. About 528 Mark II Cobras were produced in the summer of 1965 (the last US-bound Mark II was produced in November 1964).

Cobra 427

A new chassis was required, developed, and designated Mark III. The new car was designed in cooperation with Ford in Detroit. A new chassis was built using 4 in (102 mm) main chassis tubes (up from 3 in (76 mm)) and coil spring suspension all around. The new car also had wide fenders and a larger radiator opening. It was powered by the "side oiler" Ford 427 engine (7.0 L) rated at 425 bhp (317 kW), which provided a top speed of 164 mph (262 km/h) in the standard model and 485 bhp (362 kW) with a top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h) in the competition model.

Cobra Mark III production began on 1 January 1965; two prototypes had been sent to the United States in October 1964. Cars were sent to the US as unpainted rolling chassis, and they were finished in Shelby's workshop.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1987 BookShelby American Cobra/Mustang Guide; Hot Rod Magazine


Multimedia

2012 Mecum Fall Premier Auction: 1965 Shelby Cobra MkIII Superformance Replica
October 26, 2012
Duration: 1:52
Video ©2012 Bill Crittenden
for $46,000 at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Download 2012 Mecum Fall Premier Auction: 1965 Shelby Cobra MkIII Superformance Replica at The Internet Archive


DateMedia or Collection Name & DetailsFiles
27 May 20153-D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car
George Putic for VOA News

Article Page
- 8.2MB - 3:15


Photographs

Shelby Cobra 1962
Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash
Franschhoek Motor Museum, Franschhoek, South Africa
View photo of Shelby Cobra - 4.2MB
AC Cobra SVRA Pace Car Pace Car
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of AC Cobra SVRA Pace Car - 283KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
1962 Shelby Cobra Model 1962
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
C.A.R.S. in Miniature January 2011 After Christmas Banquet
January 8, 2011
View photo of 1962 Shelby Cobra Model - 2,733KB
1962 Shelby Cobra Model 1962
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
C.A.R.S. in Miniature January 2011 After Christmas Banquet
January 8, 2011
View photo of 1962 Shelby Cobra Model - 2,725KB
1963 Shelby Cobra Stage 3-R 289 Engine 1963 with Stage 3-R 289 Engine
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of 1963 Shelby Cobra with Stage 3-R 289 Engine - 2.2MB
1963 Shelby Cobra Stage 3-R 289 Engine 1963 with Stage 3-R 289 Engine
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of 1963 Shelby Cobra with Stage 3-R 289 Engine - 2.0MB
1963 AC Cobra 1963 AC Cobra
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
Driven by Michael Stott
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
View photo of 1963 AC Cobra - 298KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
1964 Shelby Cobra Team Car 1964
Shelby Team Car with Carroll Shelby autograph

Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories
September 19, 2009
View photo of 1964 Shelby Cobra Shelby Team Car - 2,569KB
1964 Shelby Cobra Team Car 1964
Shelby Team Car

Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories
September 19, 2009
View photo of 1964 Shelby Cobra Shelby Team Car - 3,785KB
1964 Shelby Cobra Team Car 1964
Shelby Team Car

Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories
September 19, 2009
View photo of 1964 Shelby Cobra Shelby Team Car - 3,528KB
1964 Shelby Cobra Team Car 1964
Shelby Team Car

Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories
September 19, 2009
View photo of 1964 Shelby Cobra Shelby Team Car - 4,629KB
1964 Shelby Cobra Team Car 1964
Shelby Team Car

Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories
September 19, 2009
View photo of 1964 Shelby Cobra Shelby Team Car - 3,454KB
1965 AC Cobra 427 Photo by Nathan Bittinger

#75 - 1965 AC Cobra 427 (427cid)
Robert Andersson
Parkton, MD

#129 - 1964 AC Cobra (289cid)
Bill Greene
Gainesville, GA

2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of 1965 AC Cobra 427 Vintage Racing - 255KB

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
1965 AC Cobra 427 Photo by Nathan Bittinger

#75 - 1965 AC Cobra 427 (427cid)
Robert Andersson
Parkton, MD

#129 - 1964 AC Cobra (289cid)
Bill Greene
Gainesville, GA

2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of 1965 AC Cobra 427 Vintage Racing - 300KB

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
1965 AC Cobra 427 1965
Photo by Nathan Bittinger

#75 - 1965 AC Cobra 427 (427cid)
Robert Andersson
Parkton, MD

2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of 1965 AC Cobra 427 Vintage Racing - 280KB

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC Era Replica Automobiles 1965 427SC
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 Woodstock High School Car Show
View photo of Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC - 3.9MB
Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC Era Replica Automobiles 1965 427SC
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 Woodstock High School Car Show
View photo of Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC - 3.4MB
Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC Era Replica Automobiles 1965 427SC
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 Woodstock High School Car Show
View photo of Era Replica Automobiles 1965 Shelby Cobra 427SC - 4.1MB
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 326KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 263KB
Creative Commons License
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Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 272KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 276KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 281KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 286KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 197KB
Creative Commons License
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Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Shelby 427 S/C
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 427 S/C - 134KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 355KB
Creative Commons License
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Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 317KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 124KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 188KB
Creative Commons License
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Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 146KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 256KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 77KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 95KB
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. Shelby 289 F.I.A.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
2004 Zippo United States Vintage Grand Prix
View photo of Shelby Cobra 289 F.I.A. - 250KB
Creative Commons License
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Contemporary Classic Motor Trend, June 1982
Contemporary Classic Replica
View Contemporary Classic Advertisement - 345KB
L.A. Scenic Shelby Cobra 427 L.A. Scenic
Artist: Ken Eberts
Car: Shelby Cobra 427
Image courtesy CarArt.us
View "L.A. Scenic" - Shelby Cobra 427 - 195KB
Shelby Cobra Model Car 427 S/C
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
January 2010 Banquet of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of Shelby Cobra Model - 2,794KB
Shelby Cobra Model Car 427 S/C
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
January 2010 Banquet of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of Shelby Cobra Model - 3,448KB
Shelby Cobra Model Car 427 S/C
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
January 2010 Banquet of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of Shelby Cobra Model - 3,385KB
Chrome Shelby Cobra Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Barrington, Illinois Cruise Night:  July 19, 2007 View photo of Chrome Shelby Cobra - 3,037KB
Chrome Shelby Cobra Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Barrington, Illinois Cruise Night:  July 19, 2007 View photo of Chrome Shelby Cobra - 3,112KB
Kiddie Ride Video Game Cobra Kiddie Ride Video Game
Photo ©2014 Bill Crittenden View photo of Kiddie Ride Video Game Cobra - 1.8MB
Kiddie Ride Video Game Cobra Kiddie Ride Video Game
Photo ©2014 Bill Crittenden View photo of Kiddie Ride Video Game Cobra - 1.7MB
2004 Shelby Cobra Concept 2004 Concept
Photo ©2004 Bill Crittenden
2004 Chicago Auto Show
February 6, 2004
View photo of 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept - 690KB


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 6587289 Cobra1:25 scale
Die Cast - Hot Wheels G6687-0715 G1 (C4982)Ford Shelby Cobra Concept2005 First Editions/Realistix, small scale, metallic dark grey w/silver stripes


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
28 December 1994Excalibur Automobile Corporation; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208Federal Register: NHTSA (Barry Felrice)
27 November 2002CARROLL SHELBY ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF CONTINUATION CARSSanderson Sales & Marketing
21 March 2004Johnex3 Motorsports of Niagara Falls takes over Johnex Motorsports Cobra replica building programJohnex3 Motorsports
14 January 2011Legenadary '66 Shelby Cobra, TheWilliam Jason
18 January 201450th Anniversary Shelby Cobra Geoff Maxted, DriveWrite Automotive
27 May 20153-D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car George Putic


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