Probably many have heard about the Shelby Cobra. This sports car has an unusual design, simple construction and high power.
To date, cars of this brand are highly valued and expensive. However, popularity did not come to them immediately, but only after they had already been discontinued. The release of a car under the Shelby Cobra brand did not last long, giving the world only 1140 cars.
The creator of these sports cars was the Texan Carroll Shelby. At one time, he was a fairly well-known racer, until heart problems forced him to change his profession. His last achievement as a driver was the victory in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1959 in an Aston Martin DBR-1. After that, the Texan decided not to drive cars, but to create them.
Leaving the track, Caroll Shelby decided to realize his long-standing idea - to create a sports car accessible to the masses that would combine British elegance and American power. With a proposal of cooperation, he turned to the British corporation AC, to which he offered his services in the modernization of 100 racing cars. After some deliberation, representatives of the company went to the enterprising Texan to meet him.
Carroll Shelby's next step was to find an appropriate powerful engine that would fit a European car. The fact is that all American-made cast-iron engines were too heavy for British sports cars, and the development of a new engine would greatly increase the final cost of the car. The solution was found thanks to the connections of the Texan in the Ford Corporation. It was there that he was offered a compact but productive 3.6-liter V6 engine, which, thanks to a new casting technology, was extremely lightweight.
The proposal to use this engine was made by Henry Ford himself, who would have been glad to attract new wealthy customers to his products.
Thus began the production of Shelby Cobra sports cars. Thanks to the initiative of the chief engineer A. Turner, the frame of the car was improved, and to reduce the cost of the car, the suspension was borrowed from the Jaguar E-Type. Initially, Shelby advocated making the body of the car out of fiberglass, but AC management insisted on using aluminum for this purpose.
The first prototype of the machine was created after about a year of painstaking work. It was distinguished from the original by large wheel arches, a more massive front end and a powerful 325 horsepower engine, which made it possible to accelerate the car to 100 km / h in just 4.2 seconds. However, such an aggressive engine had a drawback - the car overheated very much. Therefore, production was suspended until the problem is solved.
The new improved engine from Ford Fairlane - the 289th by 4.7 liters, which also included a modernized radiator, was received by the car at the end of 1962. The problem of overheating was solved, and the car could be presented to the masses. So the world saw the Ford Shelby AC Cobra, better known simply as the Shelby Cobra.
Carol Shelby, working on her brainchild, did not fail - throughout 1963 and 1964, the Shelby Cobra 289 won victory after victory in many world-class races. The extraordinary success inspires the Texan to further work. So soon there are supercars Ford GT-40 and Shelby GT-350 (R), which was a modernized Mustang model. Shelby Cobra cars are becoming even more powerful - since March 1964, they began to be equipped with a 427th 6.7-liter engine and 425 hp. The result of this update was that Cobra easily left behind all its opponents during the Sebring race.
These were already the third generation Shelby Cobra and they so captivated Carroll Shelby with their potential that the Texan decided to start mass production. The car received an improved body and suspension, and also boasted simply extraordinary characteristics - with a weight of one ton, it accelerated from 0 to 100 km / h in just 4.3 seconds, reaching speeds of up to 265 km / h. But contrary to the expectations of the creator of the production capacity of the plant for the mass production of machines was not enough, and production stopped.
Meanwhile, AC Cars fell on hard times, with the result that only 348 Shelby Cobras rolled off the assembly line in 1967. The production of sports cars ceased, and Carroll Shelby immediately switched to other projects. Following the Shelby-350 GT, which gained popularity, the Shelby-500 ST car followed, and after it - Shelby-Charger, Shelby Series One and others. The Texan continued to work actively, improving and modernizing the cars he created.
And although more than 40 years have passed since the last Shelby Cobra left the assembly line, fans of the brand still appreciate these sports cars extremely highly. The result of the efforts of an enterprising racer has become a classic of his image and a real breakthrough in the construction of racing cars. That is why today it is difficult to find a person related to racing who does not roll his eyes in admiration every time he hears - Shelby Cobra.
One piece of evidence of this was the sale of a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake for $5.5 million at a Barrett-Jackson auction in January 2007. And although this car is one of two unique car prototypes created for personal use by Carroll Shelby, it clearly demonstrates the attitude of modern fans to models of the famous brand.