How The Shelby Cobra Roared Into History

When America Took Traditional British Sports Cars To The Next Level

The Shelby Cobra is perhaps one of the most iconic racing cars in automotive history. Motoring enthusiasts around the world love it for being one of the quickest, most powerful and nimble cars to drive, and for its stunning styling. The Shelby Cobra is also considered to be a pioneer in the industry — without it, the automotive landscape and sports cars as we know them would be quite different. There’s also that spine-tingling, goosebump-inducing Shelby Cobra sound which has given petrol heads thrills and chills since the 1960s. Let’s take a look at how it all started.

From Motor-Racing And Chicken Farming, To Creating a Legend

In 1961, Shelby heard that British car maker AC ran into some trouble with the company that supplied the engines for their nifty little AC Ace sports car. Bristol, the company that had been supplying Ace with six-cylinder engines, decided to discontinue production of the motor and instead focus on Chrysler V8s. Shelby had always admired the intelligent design and handling of the Ace, but like most other British sports cars, it did not have a rip-roaring American V8 engine, which was what he considered a ‘real’ engine. Shelby approached AC with an innovative solution to their problem of finding suitable engines for the Ace, so that they could continue its production. His idea was to combine the sharp British design of the Ace with the brute strength only an American engine can provide.

Although this was a radical idea, AC agreed to the proposal which involved building modified Aces that would accommodate American engines, and two countries working together to manufacture an innovative new sports car.

What Happens When You Add American Muscle To British Brains

The newly created and named Shelby Cobra in America and AC Cobra in England, made its debut in 1962 and soon began outperforming its rivals on race tracks around the world. The media loved the car and its unprecedented acceleration and soon elevated it to the status of racing royalty. Over 50 years later, the Shelby Cobra is still a firm favorite.

Fantastic History Aside, What’s All The Commotion About?

Besides the mind-boggling value of even an old Shelby, this compact cruising machine has consistently held up its reputation as one of the most a weight-to-power efficient cars the world has seen. With a curb weight of just over 1,000 kg’s and a ridiculously powerful engine firing it to 100 km/h in five seconds flat, the Shelby Cobra was solid, sleek and explosive from the very beginning. It remains one of the most desirable sports cars for every enthusiast and an absolute dream to drive. It is also simply gorgeous. What more could you want?

Ofer Levin GTI — Experiencing Cars and Engines. Welcome! I am Ofer Levin (aka GTI), and this is where you can read about things that matter to me.