If you have ever been in the market for a “Cobra” or had the idea of owning one of the most iconic sports car of all time, this is the site for you. The members of the Cobra Authority community have spent years studying and researching these amazing automobiles and this site is the culmination of their efforts. From originals to inexpensive replicas and every variation in between, our mission is to educate others with “Cobra Fever” on the best possible way to make their dream come true. Enjoy the information and feel free to send us any questions or comments you may have along the way.
Rightly regarded as one of the all-time great classic sports cars, the muscular, fire-breathing Cobra succeeded in capturing the hearts of enthusiasts like few of its contemporaries. Texan Carroll Shelby had gone racing in Europe in the late 1950s and realized that a combination of a lightweight American V8 engine and a proven European chassis was a winning combination. He had a Ford V8 installed in the chassis of an AC Ace, named the result the ‘Cobra’ and proved his point.
Formalizing the arrangement, Shelby had AC Cars send Cobras – minus engines – from England to be finished off at his facilities in California. The 260ci (4.2-liter) prototype first ran in January 1962, with production commencing later that year. In 1963, the more powerful 289ci (4.7-liter) unit was standardized. Rack-and-pinion steering was the major MkII up-date; then in 1965 a new, stronger, coil-suspended MkIII chassis was introduced to accommodate Ford’s 427ci (7-liter) V8 engine, which in race trim could produce well in excess of 500bhp. Wider bodywork, extended wheel arch flares and a bigger radiator intake combined to create the definitive – and much copied – Cobra MkIII look.
Shelby’s “dream team” of drivers included Ken Miles, Phil Remington, and Pete Brock, who were supported by other racing legends behind the scenes. The Ford-powered, AC Ace-derived Cobra was faster and more reliable then almost anything else produced, dominating the competition in almost every instance. The Cobra won the U.S. Manufacturer’s Championship consecutively in 1963, 1964, and 1965. Shelby would go on to win the hotly contested 1965 FIA World Manufacturer’s Championship in 1965 with the Pete Brock-designed Daytona Coupe.
Competition and semi, or ‘street’ competition (S/C) versions used the mighty 427. The ‘S/C’ had been created by the simple expedient of mildly ‘de-tuning’ 31 unsold competition cars. De-tuned? How does 0-100mph in 8.8 seconds and 165mph sound?
The Cobra set new standards of performance for road cars and was highly effective in competition. Just 1,000-or so Cobras of all types were built between 1962 and 1967, and only 160 of those were of the genuine ‘427’ version.
What options do you have if the “Cobra” you want to buy is not an original?
U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency regulations for new cars require things like crash-testing and smogging the engine for emissions—far too expensive for low-production vehicles like Shelby American Cobras and Cobra replicas. That’s why it’s impossible to buy a new turnkey Cobra for street use. However, Cobra parts are unregulated. When those parts just happen to be put together but fall short of a complete car, they are called an “assemblage of motor vehicle parts,” and they are still unregulated. That’s why most manufacturers, Shelby American included, produce a partially assembled car. Many are what is called a “rolling chassis”—the body attached to a frame with the wheels on. Most are missing an engine and transmission, and they come unpainted. The partially assembled Cobra is then completed to a customer’s specifications by an independent shop or dealer.