AC Cobra 289 MK II

1963

  • "The result of collaboration between the British constructor, and the American race-car driver Carrol Shelby, it came to be known as the Shelby AC Cobra."
  • "When he fitted a 270 hp V8 onto a chassis originally intended for a 130 hp 2 liter engine, Carroll Shelby gave birth to one of the most exciting roadsters of the 60s."
  • "The serpent logo turned out to be prophetic of the Cobra's capacity to leave Ferrari eating dust on race circuits all over the world."

Having consistently taken risks in the marketplace, the journey of AC Cars had been long and turbulent. At their lowest ebbs, they would face commercial catastrophe. At their highest points, they would apply the most innovative engineering available to a model that was in full decline, entering into a collaboration that would produce an enduring classic whose name would be forever etched into automobile history.

In 1901, John Weller formed a partnership with his friend John Portwine, owner of a number of London butcher shops at the time; together they founded the Auto Carrier automobile company, the first of its kind in England. They unveiled their first 20 horsepower 4 cylinder automobile at the 1903 Crystal Palace Car Show. Their first great success was an engine that Weller conceived in 1919; a 6 cylinder 2 liter affair that produced 40 horsepower, so well designed that it remained in service until 1962! 

Between 1919 and 1925, when they beat the "distance in an hour" record by covering more than 99 miles, Auto Carrier (known as AC Cars Limited since 1922), gained notoriety in the world of motor racing, particularly in the 1500 cc and 2000 cc categories. Then, in 1929, the economic crisis would hit the company with full force. AC now needed to define a new production car: the factory thus proposed a single chassis and single-engined model, but with a wide range of personalized options that quickly became a hit. Nevertheless, the company wouldn't be completely resurrected until after the war.

To be continued...