The AC Cobra was a high performance cross breed; a British AC Ace with a Ford V8 engine. The first 75 production cars used the Ford 4.2-litre engine but this was then replaced by the 4.7-litre V8 from the Ford Mustang. Only 560 of these 4.7-litre Cobras were built in the mid-1960s. In standard form it provided 202 kW but it was possible to buy a race-tuned version which turned out a mighty 276 kW.

Right from the commencement of the project, AC shipped cars to California without engines or transmissions. The engines were fitted in the USA where the cars were tested prior to final customer delivery. In the first three years, many development changes were made to the Cobra, with probably the most important being the fitting of accurate rack and pinion steering. During 1965 the old style transverse leaf spring suspension was replaced by a more modern coil-spring installation, which was designed in conjunction with Ford.

It was at this point that the 427 Cobra appeared on the market. It was fitted with the massive large-block 7.0-litre Ford Galaxy engine. To cope with the larger engine the main chassis side members were made of 100mm diameter steel tubing. Larger tyres were fitted, together with more bulbous mudguards to accommodate them, and the nose was modified to improve radiator cooling. In spite of its increase in weight the 427 Cobra was up to 454 kg lighter than its principal rival, the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, and in certain classes of racing the Cobra was very successful.

The Cobra ran in a number of international sportscar races but was never good enough to take on all-comers. In 1965, however, the Cobra did manage to win the World GT Championship against rather thin opposition with a highly modified vehicle. The model entered was the extremely brutal but very efficient Daytona Coupe style, which had been evolved for the manufacturers by Peter Brock (the American, not the Australian). By the late 1960s, the Cobra was past its prime but there were a few European versions produced which were simply called AC 289. The last Cobra for the USA was built in 1968.

In recent years many look-alike Cobras have been put on sale, some mechanically similar, and some very different under the skin. Several have had fibreglass bodies and quite different engines although most have stayed with the Ford V8 7.0-litre job. Auto Kraft Ltd, who previously repaired and restored Cobras, were granted the use of the Cobra trademark and supplied cars to Ford dealers in the USA equipped with a 5.0-litre Mustang engine which met all emission requirements at the time of sale.

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