The ex-Bill Bridges, 1997 Intermarque Championship-winning 1988 AC Cobra Mark IV Roadster Registration no. 3 RVX Chassis no. SA9AK3022JA017264 Engine no. 1264
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 - 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 wheelarch 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.
The AC Cobra offered here is the very well known and much admired ex-race car that Bill Bridges campaigned with much success throughout the 1990s, winning the Intermarque Championship with it in 1997. In its April 1999 edition, Classic & Sports Car magazine reviewed '3 RVX' (at that time for sale) having first driven it in 1996: 'one of the best-sorted Cobras we've tried' (copy article on file). C&SC reported that the Cobra had been fitted with a dry-sumped Gurney-Weslake '289' built at huge cost by Mathwall Engineering and bored out to 5.0-litres, reputedly producing 480bhp. Other specification highlights included a Borg-Warner Super T10 gearbox, Tilton triple-plate clutch, limited-slip differential, balance-adjustable AP competition brakes, 'quick' steering rack and a retro-fitted MkIII dashboard. During Bridges' ownership the Cobra was looked after by marque specialists Uniclip Automotive (Bill Shepherd).
Since its acquisition by the vendor, the car has been prepared for road use and is described as in generally good condition, benefiting from a new clutch. Representing a rare opportunity to acquire a Cobra with significant competition history and a proven track record, '3 RVX' is offered with history file and Swansea V5 registration document.