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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The story of one of the most iconic cars ever, Shelby Cobra

The Shelby Cobra is one of the world's iconic cars that are familiar to the automotive enthusiasts all over the world. These beautiful, powerful cars is the design of a former racing driver and legendary American automotive designer named Carroll Shelby by using the engine supplies from the Ford Motor Company, and was first introduced in 1962.
1962 Shelby 260 Cobra 'CSX2000' uses a 159-cubic-inch (2.6 L) Ford Zephyr inline 6 engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3oGSXML)
His work is quite classy in the world of racing with his success in winning the Le Mans 24-Hours endurance race in France, by beating Ferrari, who was so dominant at that time. With consecutive victories from 1966 to 1969 with the legendary Ford GT40.

The Shelby Cobra is could be said as a British-American sports car uses a Ford V8 engine, is produced only briefly in Britain and the US since 1962. Well, this car is also known as the AC Cobra because it was originally made at a British manufacturer called AC Cars, which was later sold in the United States as Shelby Cobra.

The Early Models
Like most British manufacturers at the time, AC Cars used the straight-6 engine from Bristol (known as a pre-war designed engine by BMW) for its small production including the AC Ace (a two-seater roadster). This car has a handmade body with a steel tube frame, and aluminum body panels made using the English wheel engine. Until 1961, Bristol decided to discontinue production of its engine and instead used a Chrysler 313-cubic-inch (5.1 L) V8 engine. And the AC Cars later started using the 159-cubic-inch (2.6 L) Ford Zephyr engine for its production cars.

In September 1961, Carroll Shelby, an American automotive designer wrote a letter to AC Cars asking them to make him a modified car to accept a V8 engine. AC Cars agreed, provided a suitable engine could be found immediately, as previously the Bristol's engine for their two-seat sports car (AC Ace) was discontinued.
1962 Shelby 289 Cobra 'CSX2001' uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3qdjCBi)
To get the V8 engine for his car, Caroll Shelby contacted Chevrolet, one of the American car manufacturers to see if they could provide him with a V8 engine. But unfortunately they said no because they didn't want to increase the number of potential competitors for their Corvette car model.

After that he contacted another American manufacturer Ford (who was basically desperate for a car that could compete with the Chevy Corvette) and just happened to have a new V8 engine that could be used in this venture, namely a new lightweight small-block V8 engine named the Windsor 221-cubic-inch (3.6 L). In short, Ford agreed to give Caroll Shelby two units of their new V8 engine.
1962 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra 'CSX2011' uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2XWRoP3)
In January 1962, the AC Cars mechanics at Thames Ditton, Surrey designed a prototype called AC Ace 2.6 with chassis number CSX2000. AC had done most of the modifications needed to apply the small block V8 engine when they installed the 159-cubic-inch (2.6 L) Ford Zephyr inline 6 engine, including extensive rework of the AC Ace front end bodywork. The only modification of the first Cobra (AC Ace 2.6) front end was the steering box, which had to be moved outside to make spacious room for the Ford's new V8 engine.
1962 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 289 'CSX8983' uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2LMHTiU)
And the most important modification is the installation of a stronger rear differential to handle the increased engine power. The Salisbury 4HU unit with deep disc brake for reduced the weight was chosen as a replacement for the old ENV unit. It is the same unit used in the Jaguar E-Type.
After testing and modification, the engine and transmission were removed and the chassis was airlifted to Shelby in Los Angeles on February 2, 1962. At this time the displacement of the small block was increased to 260 cu in (4.3 L). Shelby's team paired this engine along with the transmission into the CSX2000, in less than eight hours at the Dean Moon workshop in Santa Fe Springs, California, and started road testing.

The Production Models (CSX/CS 2001-2602)
Furthermore for the production model (CSX/CS 2001-2602), there were some significant changes made such as the position of the inboard brakes being moved out to reduce costs, then the fuel tank filler was moved from the fender to the trunk center, and the trunk lid had to be shortened to accommodate those changes.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra Mk II uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/38Enrtn)
Then the AC Cars exported the finished, painted, and trimmed (minus engine and gearbox) cars to Shelby. After arriving in America, Shelby then finished his cars at his workshop in Los Angeles by installing engines and gearboxes and repairing any bodywork deficiencies caused by the car's shipping by the sea.

A small number of cars were also completed on the East Coast by Ed Hugus in Pennsylvania, including the first production car; CSX2001. Following later the first 75 Cobra Mk1 models (including the prototype) were paired with 260 cu in (4.3 L). And the remaining 51 Mk1 models were paired with a larger version of Ford's Windsor engine, ie the 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra 'COB6004' uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/38EO1mg)
In late 1962, Alan Turner, the AC Cars's chief engineer completed a major design change from the car's front-end to accommodate rack and pinion steering while still using transverse leaf spring suspension (with double leaf spring as the top suspension link). The new car entered production in early 1963 and was designated as the Mark II. The steering rack is borrowed from the MGB while the new steering column comes from the VW Beetle. About 528 units of the Mark II Cobra were produced in the summer of 1965 (the last US-made Mark II was produced in November 1964).

The European Models (COB/COX 6001-6062)
As for the Cobra's European models, (COB/COX 6001-6062) carried out since 1963 after the Ruddspeed Ace production was discontinued, it was done to keep the company's production activities focused on the Shelby American Inc. car production. And the AC Cars took the  marketing and selling portions of the Cobra models for the European's market with the advertisement's statement that Cobra is designed to meet Shelby American Inc.'s requirements.
1964 Shelby Cobra 427 'CSX2196' or Fliptop Cobra uses a 390 cu in (6.4 L) Ford FE engine. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/38Enrtn)
Besides that, there was also a 390 Big Block Cobra, which was originally done to facilitate the Shelby's experiments with a 390 cu in (6.4 L) Ford FE engine on the car with chassis number CSX2196 was intended to overpass the Ferrari's models in the GT class. Unfortunately, The car development failed and was discontinued.

It was decided after Ken Miles drove and raced the FE-powered Mark II at the 12 Hours of Sebring and said the car almost unsavable, and named it the Turd. It failed to touch the finish line and must stop in early due to engine (damper failure) problem.
1967 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster uses a Ford's 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/35D4zcb)
Subsequently CSX2196 was revised and prepared for the fight in Nassau which allowed for a more relaxed class division. It allowed the Cobra GT to run on the prototype Ford GT, GM Grand Sport Corvettes, and Lola Mk6. And for the 1964 event, the Fliptop Cobra was used with a 390-cubic-inch (6.4 L) aluminum engine. That's very fast and at the end of the first lap, it has the long straight start-finish advantages. However, at the end the car failed to finish due to the brake problems.

Unique Facts of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX2286
There is a unique fact regarding the Shelby Daytona Coupe. As it is known, Caroll Shelby from the start had a strong ambition to beat Ferrari cars in the world famous 24-Hours of Le Mans racing event. At the time, due to his racing car could not be completed in time and not able to appear at the racetrack, so (reportedly) to save face, then he made up a story that the Peter Brock-designed Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe with chassis number CSX2286 especially for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1964 was badly damaged after being involved in a road traffic accident while being transported to the racing circuit.
This is one of the six of the famous 1964 Shelby Brock Cobra Daytona Coupe 'CSX2286' while at the 2007 Monterey Historic Automobile Races. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3sfYtbD)
Even so, Caroll Shelby finally succeeded in completing and fulfilling his dream at the 24 Hours of Le Mans racing event two years later (in 1966) by defeating the Ferrari cars with the legendary Ford Motor Company-owned, the Ford GT-40 racing car. And all of those triumph momments are pictured beautifully in the Hollywood's movie titled 'Ford vs Ferrari' and that can be a reference to find out one version of the story.
Finally, even though it's more than half a century old, the Shelby Daytona Coupe still shows a strong charisma. Even if the other cars price continues to fall from year to year, but not for it, this Cobra still has high value and exorbitant price. And today, the car estimated has the price reaches of Rp. 78.7 billion. Wow! As quoted of Carbuzz, the mentioned car is one of the 6 units of the Peter Brock-designed Shelby Daytona Coupe ever built specifically for the racing events in 1964. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | CARBUZZ | MOTORAUTHORITY ]
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