AC Cobra

The AC Cobra was a British built and designed sports car that was produced during the 1960s.

History and development

Peter Brock's Daytona Sportscar on the day before his fatal accident
In an effort to improve top speed along the legendary Mulsanne Straight at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, a number of enclosed, coupe variations were constructed using the leafspring chassis and running gear of the AC/Shelby Cobra Mark II. The most famous and numerous of these were the official works Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupes. Six were constructed in total, each being subtly different from the rest. AC also produced a Le Mans coupe. The car was a one-off and was nearly destroyed after a high-speed tire blow-out at the 1964 Le Mans race. It has now been completely rebuilt and now sits in private hands in England. The third significant Cobra-based coupe was the Willment Cobra Coupe built by the JWA racing team. A road-going Shelby Daytona Cobra replica is being manufactured by Superformance and Factory Five Racing, a well known kit car company. These cars use Peter Brock's bodywork designs, scaled up to increase room inside, and a newly designed spaceframe chassis, they are powered by Roush-built Ford Windsor (Sportsman) engines. The Superformance Shelby Daytona Coupe is the only modern-day vehicle recognized by Shelby as a successor to the original Coupes. Peter Brock's Australian namesake, the race car driver, was killed while driving a GM-powered replica of a Shelby Daytona Coupe in competition in Australia in 2006.

Continuation cars

From the late 1980s onwards, Carroll Shelby and associated companies have built what are known in the hobby as "Continuation Cars", Shelby authorized continuations of the original AC bodied Shelby Cobra series. Initially the car everyone wanted in a Continuation was a 427 S/C model which was represented in the CSX4000 series. This was meant to continue where the last 427 S/C production left off, at approximately serial number CSX3560 in the 1960s.
The initial CSX4000 series cars were completed from new old stock as well as newly manufactured parts. Gradually as the vintage parts supply ran low, newly constructed frames and body panels were obtained from a variety of suppliers. The production of chassis numbers CSX4001 to CSX4999 took roughly 20 years and many different business relationships to complete.
All models of Cobra produced are available now as continuations. In 2009, CSX4999 was produced, concluding the 4000 series. Production has continued with the CSX6000 serial numbers, featuring "coil over" suspension. The 289 FIA "leaf spring" race version of the car is reproduced as CSX7000, and the original "slab side" leaf spring street car is the CSX8000 series.
To date most continuations are produced in fiberglass, with some ordering cars with aluminum or carbon fibre bodywork.
Super Snake
Shelby Motors built 22 427 competition roadsters. In 1965, one was selected and converted into a special model called the 427 "Cobra to End All Cobras." The first one of these (number CSX3015) was originally part of a European promotional tour before its conversion. This conversion called for making the original racing model street legal with mufflers, a windshield and bumpers amongst other modifications. But some things were not modified, including the racing rear end, brakes and headers. The most notable modification is the addition of Twin Paxton Superchargers. This gave the car an alleged 800 brake horsepower (bhp) and 462 Ft pounds of torque at an astounding low of 3000 rpm. Officially rated at 0-to-60 at 4.5 seconds, legend and lore have it as doing that in a little over 3 seconds as one must lay off the throttle heavily just to get traction off the line.
Another non-competition 427 roadster, CSX3303, was converted and given to Shelby's close friend, Bill Cosby. Cosby attempted to drive the super-fast Cobra, but had issues with keeping it under control. This was humorously documented in Cosby's album titled "Bill Cosby, 200 M.P.H." Cosby gave the car back to Shelby, who then shipped it out to one of their dealers in San Francisco, S&C Ford on Van Ness Avenue. S&C Ford then sold it to customer Tony Maxey. Maxey, suffering the same issues as Cosby did with the car, lost control and drove it off of a cliff, landing in the Pacific Ocean waters. It is to be noted that Maxey's accident was largely speculated as suicide. It was eventually recovered and the wreckage was bought by Brian Angliss of AC/Autokraft. Since CSX3303 was so badly damaged in the Maxey accident, it is doubtful that much of the original car will surface in the restored version.
Shelby's original model, CSX3015, was kept by Carroll Shelby himself over the years as a personal car, sometimes entering it into local races like the Turismos Visitadores Cannonball-Run race in Nevada, where he was "waking [up] whole towns, blowing out windows, throwing belts and catching fire a couple of times, but finishing." CSX3015 was auctioned off on 22 January 2007 at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event in Scottsdale, Arizona for $5 million plus commission (a record for Cobras, as well as for a Barrett-Jackson sell price)


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