With Behind the Headlights from the SPEED cable network, host Bob Varsha takes you behind the scenes of 12 unique automobiles and their remarkable histories.
In this episode (Season 1, Episode 6), we see what is rightly known as one of the great classic sports cars of all time: the muscular, fire-breathing Cobra. Few sports cars of its time were able to capture the hearts of enthusiasts like this one did. In the late 1950s, Texan Carroll Shelby raced in Europe and realized that an American V8 engine coupled with a proven European chassis could win races. In order to prove his point, he installed a Ford V8 in the chassis of an AC Ace, called it the Cobra, and started winning.
To formalize the deal with AC Cars, Shelby had them send Cobras – minus engines – from England for finishing at his California facility. In January 1962, 260ci (4.2-liter) prototypes were run for the first time, and subsequent production began later that year. 1963 saw the standardized introduction of the 289ci (4.7-liter) engine. A major improvement was the rack-and-pinion steering in the MkII, while in 1965, Ford introduced the 427ci (7-liter) V8 engine, which in race trim produced more than 500 horsepower. Cobra MkIII was significantly different from previous models thanks to its wider bodywork, extended wheel arch flares, and larger radiator intakes.
There were many great drivers on Shelby’s “dream team,” including Ken Miles, Phil Remington, and Pete Brock, who were backed by other race legends. With its Ford motor and AC Ace derived chassis, Ford Cobras were faster and more reliable than virtually anything else on the market. These cars dominated nearly every race. In 1963, 1964, and 1965, the Cobra won the US Manufacturer’s Championship. Using the Pete Brock-designed Daytona Coupe, Shelby won the 1965 FIA World Manufacturer’s Championship.
It was filmed at the Nethercutt Collection Museum in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar, which is located at 15200 Bledsoe Street. Autoweek has named the Nethercutt Collection as one of the five greatest automobile museums in America with its multi-story museum featuring a large collection of automobiles. JB Nethercutt (1913-2004), cofounder of Merle Norman Cosmetics, founded The Nethercutt Collection in 1972.
Includes Interviews from:
- Carroll Shelby
- Bob Bondurant
- Don Cummings
- J. L. Henderson
- Jerry Grant
- Dick Guldstrand
- Dan Gurney
- Phil Hill
- Tom Jones
- Bill Krause
- Elizabeth Martin
- John Morton
- Lynn Park
- Gary Patterson
- Phil Remington
- Paul Russell
- Jenni Shrives
- Don Weaver
- Kathy Weida
Images Provided by:
- Carroll Shelby Licensing
- Dave Friedman
- Ford Motor Company
- Road & Track
- Streamline Films, Inc.
- Produced by: Bob Petrella
- Executive In Charge of Production: Rick Miner
- Executive Producer: Lenny Shabes
- Supervising Producer: John Aronson
- Coordinating Producer: Jill Penwarden
- Associate Producer: Alan Bolte
- Written by: Ken Gross
- Production Coordinator: Scott Greenberg
- Director of Photography: Jacob Kelso
- Edited by: Ruth Wald, Dan Nelson
- Audio Designer: Tom Orsi
- Cars featured courtesy of Peterson Automotive Museum
Produced by WATV in Association with SPEED CHANNEL
Copyright 2004, Speed Channel, Inc.
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