Convinced that a market existed for an inexpensive sports car combining European chassis engineering and American V8 power, Le Mans-winning Texan racing driver Carroll Shelby concocted an unlikely alliance between AC Cars and the Ford Motor Company. The former’s Ace provided the simple twin-tube chassis frame – strengthened and supplied with four-wheel disc brakes for the Cobra – into which was persuaded one of Ford’s lightweight, small-block V8s. The 260ci (4.2-litre) prototype first ran in January 1962, with production commencing later that year. Exclusively for the USA initially, Cobras – minus engines – were sent from England to be finished off by Shelby in California, and it was not until late in 1963 that AC Cars in Thames Ditton got around to building the first fully finished European-specification cars.
After 75 Cobras had been built with the 260ci engine, the more powerful 289ci (4.7-litre) unit was standardised in 1963. 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 (7.0-litre) V8 engine. Wider bodywork, extended wheel arch flares and a bigger radiator intake combined to create the definitive – and much copied – Cobra MkIII look. Only 1,000-or-so Cobras of all types were built between 1962 and 1967 but such was the model’s enduring popularity that production was resumed in 1982 under the auspices of Brooklands-based Autokraft.
But for Brian Angliss, the Cobra story would have ended in 1967. The Autokraft boss had built up a business restoring Cobras and supplying parts, and in the early 1980s acquired the rights to the AC name plus a quantity of jigs and tooling from the old Thames Ditton factory. Keeping the overall style of the MkIII, Autokraft produced the MkIV, which was appropriately updated to meet current legislation and powered by a ‘Federalised’ Ford 5.0-litre V8 engine. Around 480 were built before Autokraft folded in 1996, largely due to costs incurred developing its new Ace model.
This stunning , very high specification car comes with a very large history file. Having covered just 7,500 miles from new, and finished in striking Guards red over black. ! ‘E19 COB’ is offered complete with its cherished registration, chassis instruction book, sundry bills, current road fund licence, MoT to October 2018 and Swansea V5 document.