This is one of many illustrated classic car guides I've created for the community. I hope you enjoy it. If you wish to find out more about the Carroll Shelby's classic Cobra sports car art featured in this guide please click here.
Carroll Shelby's idea of mating the brutal power and immense torque of a large capacity American V8 engine with the simple and elegant AC Ace body produced one of the all time great sports cars, the Cobra. This guide details the Cobra's history between 1962 and 1969, from the original 4.2-litre Mk1 model to the awesome 7-litre Semi-Competition Mk3.
Cobra 260 ( Mk1 )
After having been exhibited at the New York show in April and featured in magazine tests by May, the Cobra went into production in July 1962. It featured outboard rear discs, a 260bhp 260-cu in V8 and worm-and-roller steering on its Ace-based leaf-sprung chassis. Minor improvements were constantly being made to the design.
Cobra 289 ( Mk2 )
Following Ford's updating programme, the Cobra switched to the 289-cu in engine from January 1963. Although there was little increase in power the new unit offered much greater flexibility and tuning potential. The chassis remained largely unchanged but March saw the introduction of rack-and-pinion steering and some suspension re-tuning and shortly after, slightly wider wheels were added to the car.
Cobra Daytona Coupe
The Daytona coupes were developed from the leaf-spring 289 chassis with the purpose of competing in European Championship-type racing and especially Le Mans. They used a strengthened chassis and streamlined fastback body designed by Pete Brock. In 1965 the Daytonas took six class wins and the World Championship from Ferrari.
AC 289 ( Mk3 ) coil-sprung
In May 1966, AC combined the new coil-spring chassis with the lighter 289-cu in engine to produce a car specifically for the European market. It was one of the best balanced Cobras of all. Production of the leaf-spring cars had ended in March 1965, after the introduction of the 427. The last 427s were made as late as 1968, but the last Cobra was a European-spec-coil-spring 289 built in February 1968.
Cobra 427 ( Mk 3 )
The production of the 427 was announced in January 1965 with the all-new coil-spring chassis and greatly revised bodywork making it a much larger car. It was slow to sell and in order to reach homologation targets many were sold as Semi-Competition roadsters. Most subsequent 427s actually used the milder-tuned and less expensive Ford 428 V8 engine, which still gave dramatic performance.
Cobra 427 S/C ( Mk3 )
The S/C version of the 427 is the most brutal of all road-going Cobras. All 427s had a much larger radiator nacelle with oil cooler intake below and of-course, increased wheel arch flares. Semi-Competition 427 Cobras came from the run of cars produced for FIA homologation and although street legal look much more racing car.