1963 AC Shelby Cobra 4.7-litre Mark II Roadster Registration no. OYM 28A Chassis no. CSK2116 Engine no. CSX2116
Rightly regarded as one of the all-time great classic sports cars, the muscular, fire-breathing Cobra succeeded in capturing the hearts of enthusiasts like few of its contemporaries. 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. 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 - designed by John Tojeiro - into which was persuaded one of Ford's lightweight, small-block V8s. It was discovered that the latter was lighter than the six-cylinder Ford Zephyr unit that AC was using, yet with vastly greater potential. To cope with the projected power increase, the Ace chassis was strengthened with heavier gauge tubing and supplied fitted with four-wheel disc brakes. Weighing a mere 1.5cwt more than a Bristol-engined Ace yet endowed with double the power and torque, the Cobra turned in a breathtaking performance, racing to 60mph in 4.4 seconds and reaching the 'ton' in under 12, exceptional figures by early 1960s standards and none too shabby even today. 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 cars to European specification. 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, an engine that in race trim was capable of producing well in excess of 400bhp. Wider bodywork, extended wheelarch flares and a bigger radiator intake combined to create the definitive - and much copied - Cobra MkIII look. Keeping ahead of the competition on the racetrack had been the spur behind Shelby's adoption of the 427 engine, but some MkIIIs to 'street' specification came with Ford's less powerful 428ci hydraulic-lifter V8. 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. Chassis number 'CSX2116' was invoiced to Shelby American on 16th April 1963 and shipped to Los Angeles three days later aboard the 'SS Loch Gowan'. Invoiced on 18th June 1963 to Burton Motors of Sacramento, California, the Cobra was sold new to a local doctor who used it for a few years before giving it to his daughter. She used the car as daily transport for several years before the clutch failed, at which time it was sold to Steve Dangremond of Santa Rosa, California. The Cobra was advertised for sale by Mr Dangremond in late 1977 and bought by Dr Grant Hill of Chotoka, Alberta. Dr Hill fitted Weber carburettors and raced 'CSX2116', eventually trading it to Fred Yule in Portland, Oregon. At that time, the car was still finished in its original colour scheme of dark blue and retained its original black leather interior. 'CSX2116' returned to the UK in the late 1980s and was advertised through Hampson's Ltd, by which time it had been refinished in red and fitted with a full-width roll bar. Subsequent owners in England were Dr Carlos Barbot, Trojan boss Peter Agg and Formula 1 racing driver Rupert Keegan. 'CSX2116' was last restored in 1988, records on file indicating that an extensive mechanical restoration was undertaken at this time. The car still retains its original black leather interior though the Weber carburettors have gone, replaced by an easier to maintain four-barrel Holley. There is considerable additional accompanying documentation including correspondence between previous owners, a copy of the original bill of sale, Shelby American Automobile Club letter of authentication, FIA papers and Swansea V5 registration document. The car has belonged to the current owner since 2006. Early Cobras are offered for sale only rarely and this example represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a fine example of this classic of Anglo-American sports car design.