Few cars have captured the imagination of the performance world as the Cobra did in the mid sixties and the legend has lived on through the many replicas to emerge again in the Viper, its spiritual successor. It was the time honoured recipe of getting the biggest possible engine into the lightest frame that could handle the power and clothing it in an attractive two seater body, preferably an open top for maximum enjoyment on the open road. While the AC marque was founded back in 1901, the Cobra story starts with 1953 introduction of the second generation Ace. Engineer John Tojeiro had created his own sports two seater modeled on the Ferrari 166 Barchetta(little boat), the car was powered by MG or Bristol. He sold the design to AC who installed their own 85bhp 2 liter six cylinder engine; in 1957, a Bristol 2 liter version was introduced giving another 30bhp and maximum around 115mph. a ford 2.6 liter version followed in 1961 with anything from 100-170 bhp. All was to change in 1962 when Carroll Shelby, impressed by the performance of the AC Bristol’s in American racing, persuaded AC to drop a Ford V-8 into the spacious engine compartment. Fitting the initial 260cu.in (4.2 liter) lightweight engine was little problem but the suspension and drive train needed considerable beefing up to take double the previous power output. AC were soon turning out five engine less cars a week for the Shelby to install ford engine and gearboxes; the 4.2 liter would soon be replaced by the 271bhp 4.7 liter (289 cu.in)
Not content with a mere 270-350bhp from the small block ford, Shelby wanted even more power, so the 7 liter Ford (427 cu.in) was inserted, but only after the chassis had been given the Ford computer treatment. The standard output for the 427 was 425bhp, but they could also be bought in street/competition from with 458bhp.