OCT 13th 2014

AC Cobra: Anglo‑American relations at their best?

Somewhere between its AC Ace-on-steroids looks, the 7.0-litre motor and even the cool name, the AC Cobra is a car that always seems to transcend the boundaries of automotive taste. Whether you’re into Minis, Porsches, Ferraris, luxury cars, vintage or veterans, the chances are that deep down you want to climb in to that cockpit, strap yourself in, hear and feel that big block motor and sample raw performance at its most raw. Go on, admit it …

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Despite weighing-in at under 1000 kilos with the small block V8 installed it was decided that the ‘289’ Cobra needed more performance. Seeing as though the car was already light enough Carrol Shelby decided that the only other way to go was more power, and lots of it. With 425bhp on tap the ‘427’ Cobra would probably comfortably out-accelerate any piece of Italian or German exotica with the minerals to line-up against one, and race success followed. Word has it that Enzo Ferrari even had races recategorised in Italy to prevent any of his cars’ exposure to the mighty Cobra. Whether or not that’s true, the Cobra – especially in ‘427’ guise is a true performance legend.

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The one you see here doesn’t have 425bhp. In fact it has more like 500bhp… and that’s on a bad day. When new it was fitted with the GT500 Mustang-sourced 428cu.in. V8 which was known as the ‘Police Interceptor’, however as good as it was it didn’t suit circuit racing as well as the 427cu.in ‘side-oiler’ and so one was fitted along with a pair of non-progressive four-barrel carburettors! The result was a car which will not have struggled to hit 100mph from rest in under 13 seconds. The mid-nineties Ferrari F355 couldn’t crack the 15 second barrier by comparison. Britain and America have united to produce a good number of memorable cars over the years, but none – not even the Ford GT40 – have the same kind of menacing presence and shattering, brutal performance as a big block Cobra.

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RM Auctions will sell it (and its original wheels which it wears in the top image) along with the rest of the incredible Sam Pack Collection on the 14th-15th. The upper estimate of $1.4m shows that genuine, ‘CSX’-framed, big-block Cobras are edging closer to the £1m barrier. Looks like I’ll have to turn my attention to a replica, then!

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