History of Cobra

Cobra image1962 - 1968

Much has been written about the Cobra, so only a few details will be presented here. Of the 260 and 289 version, there were 651 built. There were 401 of the Cobra 427 version. Of unique versions, there were six Dayton Coupes, one Willment Cobra Coupe and one AC Cobra Coupe. Cars destined for the USA were prefixed CSX. Those for the UK or Europe were COX, COB or CSB MA. A "2" as the first number in the serial number designated a leaf spring car, while a "3" was for coil spring cars.

In October of 1961, American racing driver Carroll Shelby contacted AC cars with the notion of fitting a 4.2-litre V-eight Ford engine into their light alloy Ace sport scar. AC agreed and by March 1962 a prototype was built. Enter the Cobra, the world’s truly first pocket rocket.

The first cars were fitted with the 4.2-litre engine and the now famous top-loader gearbox, not long after a 4.7-litre unit was fitted. This boosted power from 165 to almost 200 bhp and a top speed of 140 mph. More stunning was the acceleration 0-60mph in just over 5 seconds. This was the first Cobra for Britain, introduced in 1964

Shelby was still not satisfied; in 1965 he managed to squeeze a 7-litre unit under the hood, 350bhp in standard form, or race tuned to give 490bhp. This was now the world’s fastest accelerating production car, 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds

In reality the 7-litre version was really an all-new Cobra, but it did share the doors and the bonnet with the earlier 289 cars. The chassis was totally new and much stiffer; the suspension was also brought up-to-date using coil springs rather than the old leaf springs. Production of Cobras stopped in 1968. However Brian Angliss revived the car in 1983 - The MkIV Cobra

Carroll Shelby, by most accounts, is considered the man behind the Cobra*. Born in Texas, Shelby thrived unbounded mechanical horsepower that truly challenged the element of speed.

When Shelby heard of A.C. Cars, a small overseas manufacturer that produced highly-styled European sports cars, and then of Ken Rudd, a special builder who dropped oversized British Ford Zephyr engines into A.C. chassis, he knew his concept of a high-horsepower sports car was possible.

Immediately he contacted the Hurlock brothers, A.C. Cars' owners, who agreed to use of their body design. At the same time, the Ford Motor Company produced a lightweight, cast-iron engine block. Shelby wrote to Ford and received permission to use the 260cid engine cost free for 'developmental purposes.' Soon, the Hurlocks in Britain, and Shelby's team in the U.S. were busy redesigning the A.C. chassis to accommodate the big American V-8 engine. When Ford's 289cid engine became available, Shelby American, as his company was called, quickly nabbed it.

With a 385 bhp 289 engine, the Cobra* made its racing debut in late '62 at Riverside Speedway, California with driver Billy Krause. In 1963, the Cobra* had its first significant racing victory at the National SCCA meet, taking first, second and third place to the Corvettes' 4/5/6.

In 1964 Ford presented the 427cid engine to Shelby American, who then proceeded to rebuild the 289 Cobra* chassis. On the racing circuit, Ferrari, Corvette, and Porsche were looking at the Cobra's* tail end more often than not.

1965-Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, only American car ever to win the FIA World Manufacturer’s Championship for GT cars, beating Europe’s best; Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin

1970s-While consulting with Chrysler and Iacoca, Shelby brings to market the first “Fast and Furious” Pocket Rocket (the Plymouth GLH) with a small compact, lightweight power to weight ratio, high performance turbo engine.

1989-Shelby produces Cobra 427S/C Completion Cars. Shelby builds the first Viper chassis prototype

1991-Shelby launches Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation that finds heart transplants for indigent children. Shelby inducted into International MotorSports Hall of Fame

1992-Shelby inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Michigan

1995-Shelby produces CSX4000 Series 427 Cobra S/C Roadsters

1997-Shelby designs and manufacturers the Shelby Series 1 sports car

1998-Shelby creates the (Super Pursuit) S.P. 360 high performance sport utility vehicle.

1999-Shelby Cobra CSX2000 honored as Motor Trend Magazine’s most significant car of the last 50 years. Shelby teams with Titan to produce Shelby custom motorcycle, Shelby Series 1 by Titan.

2001-Shelby claims triumph in battle to keep his famed Cobra racing car name and logo out of the hands of “replicar” counterfeiters, protecting the authenticity and collectability of the America’s original muscle machine.

2002-Shelby’s celebrates four decades of horsepower and venom as Cobra turns 40; Shelby introduces the 40th anniversary edition Shelby Cobra.

2003-Shelby is still hard at work manufacturing authentic Cobra roadsters and performance products; Shelby serves as a senior technical advisor to Ford’s team developing the new Ford GT supercar, providing design and engineering support.

Today, the Cobra’s legend and mystique endures, with original examples often trading for upwards of half a million dollars. Shelby American built 1,140 Cobras from 1962-1966 and the Cobra 427 is still considered one of the world’s fastest automobiles. A straight 427 SC Cobra sells anywhere from $300-$500,000. Today, if you buy a component vehicle produced with the serial number, the price ranges from $90,000 to $125,000 plus, based on options. Shelby’s Automobiles continue to maintain their market value.

Courtesy: Auto E Club

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