This is no child’s toy either but the real thing, from the real AC Cars, that combines a 312PS motor with up to 500Nm of torque in a 1962-style composite-bodied Cobra on a ladder-frame chassis. The surprise reinvention is available to order now in a limited edition of 58 cars at a cost of £138,000.
The AC badge has been on a lot of things from invalid cars to racing cars in its 119 years – the marque is said to be UK’s longest-surviving car brand – but never an electric car before. For the many fans of AC sports and racing cars from its heyday, you mess with what’s under the bonnet of the firm’s most famous model at your peril. But AC Cars chief executive Alan Lubinsky has no fears.
“Our long saga reflects the many challenges of making sports cars in low volumes in the modern world,” he told us. “But, over the years, our belief in the brand has been sustained by the loyalty and support of AC Cobra owners worldwide. Their faith has given us the motivation to keep on striving to give AC a future – and I am convinced we have given AC a bright future.”
The new machine is called the AC Cobra Series 1 electric, and the run of 58 refers to 58 years since the Cobra first arrived. AC says it is based on the original ’62 car with a modified ladder-frame chassis adapted to take the batteries, and with upgrades to steering, suspension and brakes designed, says the firm, to provide 2020 standards of ride and handling.
While the electric Cobra captures the beautiful simplicity of the Cobra’s lines well, the sound it makes will be very different – non-existent in fact – from the V8 bellow we are used to. Also different will be its performance. For years in historic racing at Revival we have enjoyed the electrifying sight of a Cobra at full speed, but the 1,250kg electric Cobra will have its work cut out to emulate that with a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Range is said to be 150 miles from the 54kWh battery pack.
If an electric Cobra is a step too far AC is also offering a run of 58 identical-looking, similarly upgraded Cobras powered by a petrol engine… and yes it’s a Ford lump, but don’t get your hopes up for a bent eight. This Cobra is powered by the 355PS 2.3-litre four-pot engine from the latest Ford Mustang. The 140 Charter Edition (140 is 2.3 in cubic inches) weighs a bit less, is a little brisker at 0-62 in 6.0 seconds and is cheaper, at £85,000.
The electric Cobra, which is available only in blue, black, white or green, and the petrol Cobra are both said to be available for delivery towards the end of this year.
Will it be a successful move for one of the most storied of UK manufacturers, known over the decades for its wide variety of models, visions, owners and financial problems? The one thing you can always say about AC is that it’s always game to try something new, just don’t expect to see the electric Cobra jostling with the pack in the RAC TT at Goodwood any time soon.