With a new series of Wheeler Dealers swerving back onto our screens this week we thought we’d take a look at the first motor to receive the Mike and Edd treatment - the AC Cobra in this weeks’ FACTS…
FACT 1: The AC Cobra is also widely known as the Shelby Cobra, named after the racing driver and car designer Carroll Shelby.
FACT 2: The AC Cobra was made by British manufacturers AC who at Shelby’s request undertook the creation of a racing car that used the Ace chassis but could be modified to accept a powerful V8 engine.
FACT 3: During the initial design process Shelby first went to Chevrolet to see if they would provide him with engines but afraid of creating competition for their Corvette they refused. It was Ford who at the time were wanting to compete with the Corvette that supplied the V8 engines.
FACT 4: In 1962 the first engineless AC was sent overseas from Britain to Shelby’s Los Angeles facility where it was fitted with an engine and transmission in less than eight hours and immediately taken for a test drive.
The name Cobra apparently came to Carroll Shelby in a dream.
FACT 6: In 1964 the Cobra was updated with a larger engine in order to compete on the circuit with Ferrari. Now using a big block Ford FE series 390 V8 and a completely re-designed chassis to accommodate it the AC 247 model was born and has become one of the most sought after cars ever.
FACT 7: The AC 247 was produced in two versions, a street model with less powerful motor and more everyday facilities and also a competition model streamlined for racing with a more powerful motor. In 1966 Shelby had 31 unsold competition versions of the car which he decided to sell to the general public under the name Cobra 427 S/C. These models are the most sought after by collectors and sell in excess of $1.5 million dollars.
FACT 8: The AC Cobra is commonly blamed for the introduction of the 70 mph (110 kph) speed limit in Britain after a coupe Cobra was caught by the authorities doing 196 mph (315 kph) during a test run.
FACT 9: In 2007 car enthusiast Ron Pratt paid a record £2.8million for an AC Cobra that was once owned by Cobra creator Carroll Shelby, at the time this was the highest sum paid for a US-made car.
FACT 10: 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra, to celebrate Shelby American built 50 anniversary cars to celebrate five decades of high performance. All of these sold out within hours.
Read our motoring expert’s tribute to Carroll Shelby.
See pictures of the Wheeler Dealers Cobra .