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LotusOmega375D

Original Poster:

2,562 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
As your typical Anglo-Saxon I have always been brought up to believe that the original 1960s Cobra was known as the AC Cobra. However, everyone beyond these shores only seems to refer to them as the Shelby Cobra, whereas UK publications and dealers use the AC name. I have read numerous magazine articles over the last 25 years (and Classic Cars will have another out next week), but I am still not sure which name is right?

(NB. this post does not refer to the later 1980s/1990s AC/Autokraft Mark 4 versions.)

As I see it, Caroll Shelby was on the look out for a suitable chassis frame to shoehorn the small-block Ford V8 into and make a new sports car. He finally plumped for the chassis of the AC Ace as basis for this project and created the Mark 1 Cobra 260, Mark 2 Cobra 289 and wide-bodied Mark 3 427.

Did AC just supply him with the chassis from the UK for assembly in the USA? Where did the body shells come from? Did AC assemble the UK (and maybe European?) models with imported V8s? I remember reading that the wide-bodied "AC 289" (i.e. 289 engine in 427 shell) was an AC only product and seeing Aiden Mills-Thomas racing his blue one in the 1980s / early 1990s. I think that carried AC badging and a COB chassis number with a reg. like PPE101E or similar. From what I have gathered Shelby cars seem to carry CSX chassis numbers and only Shelby/Cobra badging. So were there in fact two separate production lines? Would a COB chassis number mean nothing to an American? Finally I know that AC used the basis of the Cobra chassis for the 428 sports car: was this a COB or a CSX?

Answers on a post-card please...smile

Roy C

3,535 posts

170 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
PPE20E (COB 6115) - the ex-Billy Walker / Aiden Mills-Thomas - is for sale:
http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C240277
http://www.jbradburn.co.uk/002/index.php

I remember seeing it on the street in London in it's pre-race-prepared days.

IIRC "COB" chassis numbers = AC (Thames Ditton) and "CSX" = Shelby (California).

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
When sold, they where called the AC cobra in the UK and Europe, with AC badging. The very last cars where the ac289, not called cobra at all but still with ac badging. The where not sold in the USA.

Shelby removed the AC badge from USA cars, but those from Csx2201 had an AC chassis plate (previously it was just the number) even in the USA. On the later coil sprung cars Shelby used his own plate, with no mention of AC.

Shelby considered them his cars, AC considered them theirs. The early cars where really just an ac ace with another engine (it had already had a few and no one calls a tvr chimera a rover because of it's v8) however later mk2 cars where much modified and really ac was just a contractor making chassis to Shelby specifications. At least that's one way of looking at it.

I can go and dig out what the chassis prefixes mean if you really want, but I'm sure it's on the internet somewhere.

Eta: just re read your post. The mk1 cars are the 260 and 289 engined leaf sprung cars. Really very little difference between them, it's even the same engine just an improved version. A mk2 car would be a coil sprung, wide body car with (i think) 289,427 or 428 engine.

Edited by varsas on Wednesday 18th January 11:36

LotusOmega375D

Original Poster:

2,562 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
Thanks varsas. That's a little clearer now. Can we therefore say that all UK/Euro supplied cars were assembled at Thames Ditton as ACs on a COB-numbered chassis and that all of the rest of the world's cars were assembled in California as Shelbys on a CSX-numbered chassis?

Can I also assume then that the AC428 was built on a COB chassis?

Finally where did the bodyshells take shape back in the day? I know there is a company in Devon or thereabouts currently supplying them to Shelby.

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
See my addition to my previous posts about what is a Mk1, Mk2 car.

Right, got my book out...with the caveat that all manufacturers (especially small ones like AC) played silly buggers with their chassis numbers from time to time (we know for a fact they re-numbered a few cars), and there will be 'holes' so just because a set runs 200-300 doesn't mean 101 cars where made.

Caroll Shelby export leaf-spring cars:

CSX 2000 - CSX 2702 includes CS 2030, the AC demonstrator and first RHD car, I guess built by Shelby for AC? Also includes racing cars.

Mk II Carroll Shelby export MkII coil-sprung cars

CSX 3001 - CSX 3360 (includes no. 5001/5002 to be made into show cars? Some special note anyway.)

AC Chassis

6001 - 6062

Prefixes are either COX (LHD export cars) or COB (RHD UK cars).

Includes CS2030, also part of the CSX sequence.

AC coil-sprung chassis

6101 - 6132

Again, COX or COB prefix, the last 7 cars where sold incomplete, 5 to be used in the film Monte Carlo or Bust.

So:

CO. .... means a UK built (assembled...whatever, you know what I mean) car.

CS. .... means a US built car.

..X .... means a LHD car.

..B .... or ..<nothing> .... means a RHD car.

I think!

where '.' can be anything (couldn't use x, would get confusing and the star symbol would upset the formatting)

Don't know about the AC 428, sorry.

Roy C said:
PPE20E (COB 6115) - the ex-Billy Walker / Aiden Mills-Thomas - is for sale:
Still in it's original colours, too (hey, I had the records out, thought I would check), although I dare say it's been re-sprayed a few times!

Edited by varsas on Wednesday 18th January 12:26

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LotusOmega375D

Original Poster:

2,562 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
Great thanks for your time and input. So in reality both camps are correct: the vast bulk of production was in California (probably about 1050 cars) bearing Shelby nomenclature on CS chassis, and the remaining 90 or so for Europe were Thames Ditton cars with AC badging on CO chassis.

Mystery solved!

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
No problem. I am ill off work and bored, gave me something to do! Slightly frustratingly my book doesn't seem to give a final production number, only saying 'just under 1000' although it should be easy to work out.

Apparently no 427 or 428 cars where made in the UK, the mk2 Thames ditton cars using a version of the 289 engine which seems odd, especially if (as I assume) the ac 428 was made there. Wonder if ac didn't like the bigger engine in the smaller car? Perhaps they felt it handled badly or, more likely, wanted to keep the bigger engine for the more expensive car.

LotusOmega375D

Original Poster:

2,562 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
Just for information this is the link to the company in North Devon who supplies Shelby with both chassis and bodyshells these days...

http://www.ndmetal.co.uk/default.asp

Regarding the big block variants, I was under the impression that the 428 was a tamed down unit compared to the 427, so it suited the AC428 sports car better. Did Shelby really install 428 units in Cobras in period, or were their big blocks all 427s?

16VJay

211 posts

105 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
And by "production in California", you mean dropping the V8 and gearbox into a complete rolling car built in Thames Ditton!

All Cobras were built by AC (including the bodywork), the ones for UK/Europe were completely finished by AC and the US market ones were shipped as gliders to Shelby's for their power units.

Shelby originally agreed the cars would be dual badged as Shelby/ACs but that soon went out of the window....

A lot of the engineering of the Cobras was done in the UK by AC too.

Frua 428s are built on a stretched Cobra coil spring chassis.


varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
Yeah, the 428 was a cheaper engine (about half the price, I believe). Yes, Shelby did put some in Cobra's, why? Supply problems with the rarer 427? To raise the profit margin? They used to call them the 'Special Police Interceptor' version...

16Vjay makes a good point about 'production'.

bigblock

668 posts

84 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
LotusOmega375D said:
Great thanks for your time and input. So in reality both camps are correct: the vast bulk of production was in California (probably about 1050 cars) bearing Shelby nomenclature on CS chassis, and the remaining 90 or so for Europe were Thames Ditton cars with AC badging on CO chassis.

Mystery solved!
To say that the bulk of production took place in the states is totally incorrect. All the Cobras were made by AC in Thames-Ditton and then sent to Shelby in California as a rolling chassis with unpainted bodies bearing the AC CSX (X for export) chassis numbers. The European Cobras with the COB and COX chassis numbers were entirely built by AC in the UK.

Both Shelby and AC ran their own racing programme independently of each other with the much larger and Ford backed Shelby outfit having considerable success.

The CSX2000 series made from 1962 to 1965 were the narrow bodied 260 and 289 small block leaf spring cars commonly referred to as the Mk1 and MK2.

The CSX3000 series made from 1965 to 1967 were the coil sprung widebodied cars with the bigblock 427 or 428 engines commonly referred to as the Mk3.

It is difficult to say exactly how many MK3 Cobras were actually produced because to meet the FIA homologation targets Shelby regularly skipped ahead with the chassis numbers to make it look like more cars had actualy been manufactured. This has been a gold mine for the re-creation market who used these missing chassis numbers to create 'long lost' cars.

If I had to choose between Shelby or AC as the correct name I would probably go for Shelby since it was his concept and his racing programme that pushed the Cobra into the spotlight and continued its development. It might also count for something that the Shelby brand appears to have outlasted AC and is still going strong.


Edited by bigblock on Wednesday 18th January 16:33

davepoth

23,321 posts

85 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
varsas said:
Yeah, the 428 was a cheaper engine (about half the price, I believe). Yes, Shelby did put some in Cobra's, why? Supply problems with the rarer 427? To raise the profit margin? They used to call them the 'Special Police Interceptor' version...

16Vjay makes a good point about 'production'.
428 was a standard production engine IIRC, the 427 got to capacity with a bigger bore and shorter stroke, with much higher compression and was the basis of the "cammer" engine that was bunged in the GT40. I'd check more but obviously no wikipedia today.

AndrewW-G

11,968 posts

103 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
bigblock said:
If I had to choose between Shelby or AC as the correct name I would probably go for Shelby since it was his concept and his racing programme that pushed the Cobra into the spotlight and continued its development. It might also count for something that the Shelby brand appears to have outlasted AC and is still going strong.
Yet there is also an equally (if not more so) argument that as AC built the chassis / body and the initial cars were little more than tweaked aces & Ford the motor and gearbox, they should be AC Fords . . . .when other manufacturers have produced a run of card for a client, to the clients design, the cars have kept the name of the chassis manufacturer and not that of the person marketing them . . . . .for example, you don’t have a NART 275 Spyder, you have a Ferrari 275 Spyder NART

A wonderfull bar room argument if ever there was one smile

LordBretSinclair

2,951 posts

63 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
varsas said:
Still in it's original colours, too (hey, I had the records out, thought I would check), although I dare say it's been re-sprayed a few times!

Edited by varsas on Wednesday 18th January 12:26
A little bit more than just a re-spray hehe

According to the advert....

Quote.... "It was rebuilt following a crash when nearly new and later again by Brian Angliss when Aiden first acquired the car and further worked upon when in Bill Bridges ownership. Currently the car is race prepared with a fresh Peter Knight engine"

bigblock

668 posts

84 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
AndrewW-G said:
bigblock said:
If I had to choose between Shelby or AC as the correct name I would probably go for Shelby since it was his concept and his racing programme that pushed the Cobra into the spotlight and continued its development. It might also count for something that the Shelby brand appears to have outlasted AC and is still going strong.
Yet there is also an equally (if not more so) argument that as AC built the chassis / body and the initial cars were little more than tweaked aces & Ford the motor and gearbox, they should be AC Fords . . . .when other manufacturers have produced a run of card for a client, to the clients design, the cars have kept the name of the chassis manufacturer and not that of the person marketing them . . . . .for example, you don’t have a NART 275 Spyder, you have a Ferrari 275 Spyder NART

A wonderfull bar room argument if ever there was one smile
I think logically your argument for AC as the chassis and body builder is a good one. It's just that I think Shelby is a bit of a legend, WWII pilot, Grand Prix driver, Le Mans winner for Aston Martin and he is still alive and kicking. It just seems a fitting tribute that the car is named after him.

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
bigblock said:
AndrewW-G said:
bigblock said:
If I had to choose between Shelby or AC as the correct name I would probably go for Shelby since it was his concept and his racing programme that pushed the Cobra into the spotlight and continued its development. It might also count for something that the Shelby brand appears to have outlasted AC and is still going strong.
Yet there is also an equally (if not more so) argument that as AC built the chassis / body and the initial cars were little more than tweaked aces & Ford the motor and gearbox, they should be AC Fords . . . .when other manufacturers have produced a run of card for a client, to the clients design, the cars have kept the name of the chassis manufacturer and not that of the person marketing them . . . . .for example, you don’t have a NART 275 Spyder, you have a Ferrari 275 Spyder NART

A wonderfull bar room argument if ever there was one smile
I think logically your argument for AC as the chassis and body builder is a good one. It's just that I think Shelby is a bit of a legend, WWII pilot, Grand Prix driver, Le Mans winner for Aston Martin and he is still alive and kicking. It just seems a fitting tribute that the car is named after him.
As I said above, I expect Shelby would argue all AC where doing was making chassis/body to his specification...he did all the design, marketing, and the initial conception of the idea was his. After all it's the Aston Martin DB7, not the Tickford DB7 Aston-Martin Jaguar. That car wasn't built by Aston Martin, powered by an Aston engine nor did it use an Aston Martin chassis/body...and I think the project was even driven by Ford but it's still an Aston Martin. Why can't the Cobra be a Shellby? I certainly think with the Mk1 cars (sorry, I still think 260/289 cars are all just Mk1) they are an AC Ace with a Ford engine but on the later ones...well, lots changed. I guess it depends who drove the changes, but it probably was Shelby.

Shelby AC Cobra would be fair? As in:

This is a special Shelby version of the AC, and it's called: 'Cobra'. Sort of what Ford do now.

Edited by varsas on Wednesday 18th January 16:52

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
LordBretSinclair said:
varsas said:
Still in it's original colours, too (hey, I had the records out, thought I would check), although I dare say it's been re-sprayed a few times!

Edited by varsas on Wednesday 18th January 12:26
A little bit more than just a re-spray hehe

According to the advert....

Quote.... "It was rebuilt following a crash when nearly new and later again by Brian Angliss when Aiden first acquired the car and further worked upon when in Bill Bridges ownership. Currently the car is race prepared with a fresh Peter Knight engine"
Yeah, was trying to be funny...typed word has let me down. I mean, it's a racing car so everything will be different.

a8hex

3,657 posts

109 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
varsas said:
As I said above, I expect Shelby would argue all AC where doing was making chassis/body to his specification...he did all the design...
Except, at least initially the cars were little more than AC Aces with a different engine dropped in. The design work had already been done and dusted and in production for some years.



varsas said:
Shelby AC Cobra would be fair, as in:

This is a special Shelby version of the AC, and it's called: 'Cobra'.
Or perhaps better to resolve the difficulty by putting the names in alphabetical order.

AC Shelby Cobra

Just like Rolls Royce did.

varsas

3,353 posts

88 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
a8hex said:
varsas said:
As I said above, I expect Shelby would argue all AC where doing was making chassis/body to his specification...he did all the design...
Except, at least initially the cars were little more than AC Aces with a different engine dropped in. The design work had already been done and dusted and in production for some years.
Yep, said as much in my first post...it's interesting to discuss though. People will just have to make their own mind up, those that care will know who did what anyway. Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world that it turned out as it did, that some are known as Shelby's and some are known as AC's. Could have been much more unfair. Mine would wear it's AC badge with pride, but I wouldn't remove a 'Shelby Cobra' nose badge if it came with one (oh, and it'd have FORD cam covers.)

Legacywr

5,315 posts

74 months

[news] 
Wednesday 18th January 2012 quote quote all
Roy C said:
PPE20E (COB 6115) - the ex-Billy Walker / Aiden Mills-Thomas - is for sale:
http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C240277
http://www.jbradburn.co.uk/002/index.php

I remember seeing it on the street in London in it's pre-race-prepared days.

IIRC "COB" chassis numbers = AC (Thames Ditton) and "CSX" = Shelby (California).
What sort of money is that worth?
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