October 09, 2014 @ 06:55 PM

Legends and Legacies: AC Cobra

We take a look back at a legend of cars: the AC Cobra. By Jerrica Leong

If you’ve watched the movie Need for Speed, you would be familiar with the name Carroll Shelby. The car in the movie is the Shelby Mustang and Miss Julia was ranting on about “some other car” when she was trying to prove her point that women were stereotyped against. Well we’re talking about that “some other car” today.
Carroll Shelby is the Texan race car driver who started this phenomenon. In 1961, Shelby approached AC Cars with the idea of fitting a 4.2-litre Ford V-eight engine into their Ace sports cars. You’ve probably guessed by now that “some-other-car” is the AC Cobra. 
Before I jump on and start ranting about the Cobra here’s a little bit of history about the Cobra’s brand. The brand is called AC. AC started off in Great Britain in 1904. When you think AC you would immediately associate it with that fearsome Cobra. But the company started off with a far more modest and useful three-wheel load carriers for small firms that could not afford a van.
The Cobra, in many ways, is a faster and better version of the AC Ace. In fact, if you’re not familiar with the Cobra you would mistake the Ace for the Cobra.  The Cobra has the same tubular steel chassis layout as the six-cylinder Ace, with transverse-leaf springing for the front and rear suspension. The two-seater Cobra had electrifying performance thanks to the light weight of the body and the high torque of the pushrod V-eight engines.
The first 75 version of the Cobra was fitted with a Ford 260 HiPo 4.2-litre engine unit but it wasn’t long before Shelby replaced it with the larger 289 (4.7-litre). The larger engine boosted power from 164bhp to 195bhp. The 289 could reach a top speed of 222kph. The 289 car has an impressive acceleration of 96kph in 5.5seconds. It covers standing quarter mile in 13.9 seconds, in normal layman term it covers 400meters in 13.9 seconds.
It is that version of the Cobra that Britain first became acquainted with in 1964. With the replacement of the 260 engine to the 289, the Ace-derived cam and peg steering was changed to a rack and pinion steering. Even with the four disc brakes becoming a compulsory part of the car, the Cobra is not a car for the novice driver.
In 1965, Shelby slotted in the 6989cc engine to produce a seven-litre Cobra. This is known as the Mark III. This version was designed to be powered by the Ford 427 7-litre engine that Shelby had slotted. It had claimed 345bhp in its standard form and acceleration from this engine put the Cobra on the record books in 1967 as the fastest accelerating production car with a record of 0-96kph of 4.2seconds. There was a milder version of the Cobra 428 with a V8 engine from the Thunderbird.
The Cobra was almost too fast for its own good. The AC brand may not be well known now but the Cobra lives on in the books as one of the legends in car history.

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