The AC Ace was a hand built two seat sports car built on a steel tube frame covered in hand formed aluminum panels. It began life with a straight 6 engine built by Bristol and based on a BMW design from before WW II. When Bristol stopped manufacturing the engine in 1961, AC switched over to a 2.6 liter Ford Zephyr 6 cylinder engine. In September, 1961, American sports car racer Carroll Shelby wrote to the company to ask if they would consider modifying the Ace to accept a V-8 engine and AC agreed.
Shelby then approached Chevrolet to ask about supplying him with its small block V-8 engines but the company turned him down flat. They didn’t want to do anything that might detract from the luster of their own V-8 sports car, the Corvette. Shelby went to Ford instead. As it turned out, Ford was more than willing to get involved with a potential competitor to the Corvette and had just the engine Shelby needed. It was a brand new design called the 360 HiPo. The 4.2 liter engine featured a thin wall, light weight engine block and was tuned for high performance applications.
In February, 1962, a modified AC Ace chassis arrived in Los Angeles and was taken to Dean Moon’s speed shop. Within 8 hours, the Ford engine and transmission were fitted and the AC Cobra was born. The rest, as they say, is history.
AC Heritage, the successor to AC Cars, has announce that is will build nine 1962 spec Cobras using mostly left over parts and pieces from the original cars. Those cars will be mostly for British buyers. In the US, thanks to the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, an all new AC Cobra will soon be offered. The LVMVA allows small companies to produce limited numbers of replicas built to resemble cars produced at least 25 years ago — provided they use a modern engine that meets present day emissions requirements as of the date of manufacture.
The new car will go on sale next year, and it will be based on the Cobra MkIV iteration originally unveiled in the 1980s by Autokraft. It will feature many modern improvements, but the basic car will remain the same. The ladder chassis will be retained.
In an odd twist of fate, the engine in the new AC Cobra will be a 6.2 liter V-8 engine sourced from General Motors. Essentially a GM crate engine, in naturally aspirated trim the 378 cubic inch engine will crank out 440 horsepower. A supercharged version will up that to 550 horsepower — more than the latest Ford GT. Backing up the engine will be a manual transmission of modern design. Air conditioning will be available (Why?). Power brakes and power steering will be standard.
The price? $125,000, which sounds like a relative bargain considering the cost of other exotic machinery these days. With a modern engine and gearbox, the car could even get decent gas mileage, assuming the driver can resist the urge to lean on the loud pedal. AC Heritage says there will be a more user friendly version of the reborn Cobra sometime in the future but has offered no specifics.
Source: AutoBlog Photo credit: AC Heritage