The AC Cobra is a true icon of 1960’s sports car racing and continues to feature heavily in modern historic racing grids. It was the creation of Carroll Shelby, an American racer who sought to create his own sports car after his racing career was cut short. He recognised the opportunity of replacing the often-underpowered engines in British sports cars with American V8 power having worked previously with Allard. In 1961 he approached AC, a UK based sports car builder, with the idea to pair the well handling chassis of the AC Ace with a more powerful American engine.
AC recognised an opportunity to build its brand in the US and compete with Jaguar’s newest creation, the E-Type, and accepted Shelby’s offer if a suitable V8 was found. Carroll subsequently gained Ford’s approval to use their new lightweight thin-walled small block “Windsor” engine. With a few tweaks, AC were able to ship the cars to the US as painted rolling chassis before Shelby mated the new engine and gearbox to the car.
The first batch of cars are referred to as MkIs of which 126 were made. The first 75 with the 260 engine and the last 51 with the 289 engines. In 1963, AC improved the handling of the car with rack and pinion steering and designated these new cars as MkIIs. AC ceased manufacturing the AC Ace and focused entirely on producing Cobras which were made available to the European market for the first time.
Subsequent coupe versions of the Cobra raced to international success and claimed class wins at Le Mans and the World Sports Car Championship in 1965, a title that Ferrari had held for over a decade. The Cobra secured its place as racing royalty and they continue to be raced with great success in modern historic racing.
The attention to detail and build quality of this car is a clear step above what one might expect. Every effort has been made for the car to be as correct as possible. Starting its life as an AC Sports car, built and registered in the UK in 1953 before being used as a donor by AC Heritage in 2012 for a Cobra 289 build as a homage to the 50th anniversary of the Cobra.
Using original factory wooden body bucks, the accuracy of the build was referenced from the archive of the Thames Ditton factory drawings to achieve an exact 289 MkII factory specification. The aluminium bodywork was crafted on an English wheel and gas welded together using its parent metal and the chassis was thickened with correct 3 inch diameter main rails meeting all the current requirements for historic racing, making it eligible for FIA HTP approval.
The car has a correctly coded 289 Ford engine with a custom Jim Inglese fuel injection system designed to look exactly like the 48 IDA Weber carburettors which were used in the cars in period but with all the functionality of a modern engine management system.
The owner of the Cobra is a remarkable man and this is not the first car that we have sold for him. His attention to detail and passion for enhancing an already good finished product is seemingly inexhaustible. A good example is his own creation of a titanium ignition key, as well as the bespoke leather tool case, which took nine months to make. It is hard to think of any marque specialist who would be able to deliver such a high quality finished car.
The car was initially bare aluminium when it was presented at the Goodwood Revival meeting in 2012. It has since been painted solid gloss black by Paintbox and the interior is the correct surface dyed red leather.
chassis number: COB2620
engine number: PA5575
colour: gloss black
interior: red leather
- an impeccably built AC Cobra 289 continuation car
- priced at a fraction of the build cost
- finished in period black with red leather
- fully snagged but only 600 miles from new