If there’s one car that has invaded every car lover’s subconscious, one way or the other, it is the 1962 AC Cobra. Available with either a 289 or 427 engine, it was a speed demon. I mean fast enough to race today’s fast motorcycles. But more about that later. These cars were based on the AC Ace, and stuffed with American V8 power. It started with a relatively tame 4.2 -liter V8, and at Carroll Shelby’s urging, soon ended up with a massive 7-liter monster engine. The AC Cobras were known – are known – in the United States as the Shelby Cobra and Ford Cobra. Of course, there’s a difference between a small-block and a big-block, in terms of the type of car’s that’s required to carry it, and necessity dictated that the 427 AC Cobra be almost an entirely new car. Nobody’s complaining.
But the AC Cobra 427 is all about performance. I’m not going to talk about the lesser engines, because they didn’t make history: the 427 did. This car was, at the time, the fastest production car ever made. It could accelerate to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, which is absolutely chest-crushing, and reach a top speed of 180 miles per hour, or almost 300 km/h! The engine was rated at 345 horsepower, but once Shelby got through with it, it was more like 480, or more.
The AC Cobra lives on today as one of the fastest cars ever produced, and certainly one of the most collectible. In fact, I remember reading a story about the Car and Driver journalists that were given the opportunity to drive one of the originals – not a kit car or replica – and had to turn down the offer because they simply could not get the insurance.
Long Live the Cobra! And so it does, in countless replicas and kits, some of which are actually very nice and blindingly fast.