The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster

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Lot 2
1962 AC Cobra Roadster

Sold for £ 371,100 (US$ 510,004) inc. premium
The first right-hand drive example
1962 AC Cobra Roadster

*Historically important Cobra prototype
*The first Cobra with rack-and-pinion *steering
*Originally the company demonstrator
*Present ownership for 30 years

Footnotes

  • The car offered here, chassis number 'CS 2030', was the culmination of improvements to the front suspension and steering that the AC factory had been planning for their Cobras and thus can rightfully be termed as the second prototype; the first, and very first Cobra made, being 'CSX 2000'. 'CS 2030' appears in two sections of the Thames Ditton factory's ledger that listed all cars manufactured, and first appears among USA-bound left-hand drive Cobras that were completed in October 1962. Unlike its export-model siblings, no completion date is entered and instead there is simply a penned memo 'instructions issued September 12th 1962'. As this was to be not only the first right-hand drive car but also more importantly the first car to be fitted with rack-and-pinion steering, this simple statement very likely refers to the fabrication and assembly of components related to the latter. Be that as it may, its construction had been completed by the end of October and it was registered, with the number '300 PK', and taxed for the road on 1st November 1962. As was AC Cars' custom at the time, a good deal of the testing and evaluation of any new model was undertaken by Derek Hurlock, and this was the case with '2030'. It also served as a company demonstrator as well as his personal road car for the next year. With the prototype rack-and-pinion steering version of the Cobra successfully completed, the first left-hand drive rack-and-pinion car, 'CSX 2126', was built and all subsequently numbered chassis were manufactured with this steering.

    This car's time with its manufacturer came to an end when it was sold to one D Crombie of The Chynall's, Mobberley, Cheshire and this is recorded in the AC factory ledger, amongst the first of the COB/COX UK and European series cars, as being on November 18th 1963. The same ledger notes the registration number as still being '300 PK', while at some time before the autumn of 1965, the registration number was changed to the current '510 GBL', with '300 PK' supposedly then transferred to Cobra 'COB 6023'. Immediately below D Crombie's name in the factory ledger there appears the single word 'Dent' and it is possible, though not substantiated, that this was the name of an owner immediately subsequent to Crombie, or even later.

    Within two years this prototype Cobra, now registered '510 GBL', was being advertised for sale by the Gold Seal Car Company. Motor Sport magazine carried advertisements for the car in both its October and November 1965 issues but it no longer featured in the December edition so a natural conclusion would be that it had been sold. It is not known who bought '2030', if indeed Gold Seal's advertisements did attract a buyer, but less than three years later the registered owner (or keeper) was a Rupert Benjamin Nuttall of Clayhall, Ilford, Essex. This is recorded in a duplicate registration book issued on 21st June 1968 and Nuttall's entry is franked and hand dated 6th June 1968. This registration book is a duplicate rather than a continuation one, the latter normally indicating that the previous book's six spaces for owner or address changes had been filled, while the former normally denotes that the previous document had been mislaid and a duplicate issued.

    At around this time, '2030' was involved in a serious accident in the form of a heavy frontal collision, which very possibly also resulted in a fire. Its owner, presumably having been paid out by his insurance company, was allowed to keep the damaged vehicle as he wished to rebuild it. As is evidenced by the car itself (see images on file), he obtained from the AC factory the necessary components to effect a full repair of the damaged chassis, but whether or not it was AC themselves that carried out this work is not recorded. New aluminium bodywork was purchased also, most likely sourced through AC or at their recommendation, though actually made by a firm such as the Hingerton brothers' recently formed Grand Prix Metalcraft of North London. Thus the 'AC' connection to the replacement body passed down verbally through the car's subsequent ownership.

    Before the rebuild had advanced much further, Rupert Nuttall sold the car as it stood circa 1971, together with whatever else he had kept that was of any use, to a friend who had a garage business. This was Patrick John Southon of Edenbridge, Kent. Mr Southon is deceased but his son Patrick James Southon, speaking to Bonhams in October 2015, recalled that his father owned the car for around 10 years, he thought from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, which ties in with the current vendor's ownership. The Cobra was dismantled in boxes in a shed throughout his father's ownership, said to be complete with a body and everything else. With the rebuild's lack of progress and the car's return to the road unlikely in the near future, Patrick Southon obviously felt in no hurry to bring the registration book up to date. Nevertheless, he finally got around to it and the logbook first records him as the keeper from 5th December 1977.

    The current owner bought the Cobra in or around 1978. From his recollections it was at that time still in the same, or nearly the same, condition as when it had been bought by Patrick Southon some ten years earlier. The vendor is now in his mid 80s and describes the car he acquired as having had all the chassis repairs done but with the body yet to be properly mounted. It already had a 289ci (4.7-litre) engine. This is not noted as a change in the old-style green logbook, so either it had been done in a clandestine fashion by Nuttall while the car was still on the road, or after (and possibly as a result of) its accident, by either him or Southon. The vendor also remembers that the interior (seats and instruments) was missing and mentioned fire damage as being the cause.

    During the course of the re-commencement of the car's lapsed rebuild, the current owner replaced the existing 4.7-litre engine with one said to be to GT40 specification. Initially it was fitted with a multi-carburettor induction set up but this was changed to a single Holley due to the annoyingly loud induction noise. The engine also has Carrillo con-rods, high-lift camshaft, slipper pistons and a special crankshaft, and drives via a Borg Warner T10 gearbox. The vendor ran a building company that did a lot of work for Ford at Dagenham, and this connection helped him source parts to complete the restoration; various parts, though, are not original Cobra fitment, such as the instruments and AC Ace seats.

    During Bonhams' inspection in conjunction with Cobra authority Rinsey Mills (see report on file), an original plate stamped '30' (in the correct font) was discovered underneath plates welded to the nearside door hinge (modified to obtain correct door fit) thus corroborating the Cobra's identity (see images on file). This is in line with AC's practice at that time of stamping only the last two digits of a Cobra chassis number on the door hinge plates. The original primary chassis number stamping towards the front of the frame, would have disappeared when that section was replaced following the aforementioned accident. The removed plates have been retained and are offered with the car.
    DVLA records show that they were notified of a colour change to green, the car's present colour, in 1984 and in February of that year it was MoT tested for the first time post-rebuild, the odometer noted as showing 1 mile. There is a gap in MoT certificates between 1987 and 1995, which means either that the certificates have been lost or the car was off the road during that time; whatever the case, the recorded mileage had increased to 28,867. For the last 20 years the Cobra has seen virtually no use, so when it was brought out of hibernation earlier this year and MoT'd, the odometer reading had only increased to 29,462.

    It should be noted that in addition to 'Dent' being a possible sometime owner, both the SAAC and ACOC Cobra registries have at one time or another named a Roger Field and Arwed Otto as owners of '2030'. Of the former, no evidence has been found, while the latter was introduced in error by a previous British Cobra registrar.

    One of the most surprising aspects of this early and historically important Cobra's history is the fact that, far from being destroyed, as had been thought by the ACOC Registry, it had been in the vendor's care since the early 1980s, covering very nearly 30,000 road miles without a single reported sighting. Following extensive research we are pleased to report that 'CS 2030' has been re-classified by both the ACOC and SAAC Cobra Registries as rebuilt rather then destroyed. Although no longer in possession of its original body and 260ci engine, 'CS 2030' retains the majority of the chassis upon which it was originally constructed. As such, it is an excellent candidate for a full restoration to its original 1962 specification or, alternatively, could be developed further into a potentially race-winning competition car. Its date of manufacture makes the car an attractive potential entry to the Goodwood Revival and other prestigious events including the Le Mans Classic. Offered with a current MoT certificate, duplicate old style, V5 and V5C registration documents.
Contacts
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
The first right-hand drive example,1962 AC Cobra Roadster
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