You Know You Want To: AC Cobra Mark II 289

2012 should have been about heralding 50 years of the AC Cobra but this milestone has been given added poignancy by the death of the man who created it, Carroll Shelby, just last week. Events to celebrate the Cobra's 50th birthday will be taking place throughout 2012, not least at Goodwood later in the year with a special all-Cobra race, and this will no doubt be a chance to pay respect to the man's cars in the appropriate manner.

The car in action at Croft in 1965
The car in action at Croft in 1965
We put the link to the advert for the Cobra you see here up on our Facebook page following the announcement of Shelby's passing on Friday and, off the back of that, decided it was worth a closer look. For sale at Ferrari specialists DK Engineering in Chorleywood, they're putting the car's value at around £1.5m. Which is a fairly staggering amount of money, it goes without saying. Now your jaw has had a chance to close again let's take a look at why this car might hope to command that kind of money...

Cobras are cool - we all know that - but come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Browsing the PH classifieds you'll find all sorts of replicas and recreations of varying price and quality, fibreglass bodied ones like the Dax, South African built Superformance and Hawk (the latter bucking the 427esque trend and doing a nice 289 style body) popular while Kirkham Motorsports offers more authentic aluminium bodied cars. Or you can go for the German built AC MkVI, with various options of body including carbon and a starting price of just over £100K.

With the Le Mans style hardtop in place
With the Le Mans style hardtop in place
Suffice to say, you can get yourself in a decent, Cobra shaped car for a hundredth of the price of this one if you want. But this is the real deal and if your dream is a place on the grid at the Goodwood Revival - the kind of honour mere ownership of a classic Ferrari or two doesn't even guarantee - then this is an expensive way of making that happen.

A mark II Cobra with the 289cu inch engine and competition (lighter gauge aluminium body, flared arches, cut-down doors and a custom aluminium tonneau and aero screen combo) spec, in the flesh the car has a more minimalist, stripped back feel - delicacy almost - compared with the brawnier-looking 427 most recreations are based on. Fully restored just a few years back and returned to its original creamy off-white, DK's photos show it with a Le Mans style hardtop in place but when we dropped by it was back in its roadster configuration with an open cockpit and roll hoop combo.

Cobra's 'office' looks businesslike
Cobra's 'office' looks businesslike
Hand cut louvres in the bonnet - requested by the original owner as part of a number of upgrades to prepare the car for racing - are among the unique features on this car and though fully restored it's still got that all-important patina of a hard-working race car. One that's just as happy on the road too, that original owner apparently timing himself on a small hours run from London to his home near Thirsk in North Yorkshire in the mid 60s and setting the stop watch off at Hyde Park corner. Two and a bit hours and nearly 230 miles up the then single carriageway, camera-free A1 and he was home. You can argue the sense of such a stunt but it's a pretty heroic effort and the kind of story that adds extra spice to the car's history, a history that includes track competition and drag racing too.

What's it like to drive? There's some serious eyelash fluttering going on (it's not a pretty sight...) in an effort to find out but the list of those who've had the pleasure at Goodwood and other events in recent years include Jack Sears (who drove it in period too), Richard Attwood, Jackie Oliver, Derek Bell and the late great Gerry Marshall.

4.7 litres of V8 goodness
4.7 litres of V8 goodness
£1.5m is a very expensive ticket for the Goodwood Revival, admittedly. And we'll just have to hope whomever is willing to stump that up for the privilege of owning it is also happy to see it back on the grid and helping commemorate the man who created it. It's just a shame Shelby won't be there himself to witness it too.

Work does, however, apparently continue on a TV drama called The Drivers, inspired by Shelby's life and, in particular, his experiences at Le Mans. Produced by Ridley and Tony Scott there's been little word on it since an early press release, reproduced below, from last year. We're assured that the project is still live though and if it brings cars like this, and the Ferrari 857S driven back in the day by Shelby that's also for sale at DK, into our living rooms then who's to argue.

Why you should: Wonderfully original racing Cobra with cast iron history
Why you shouldn't: Goodwood tickets may be pricey but they're not usually this pricey

DK also has ex-Shelby Ferrari 857S
DK also has ex-Shelby Ferrari 857S
The Drivers press release (January 2011):
FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME), the commercial and brand extension arm of FremantleMedia, today announced that Scott Free Inc. has joined Headline Pictures, Sennet Entertainment and FME on The Drivers, a series based on the high-octane 24 hour motor race in Le Mans during the 1950s/1960s.

Ridley and Tony Scott will be co-producing the drama with Headline Pictures and Sennet Entertainment; FME is funding the project as part of their global drama strategy to develop and package drama series for the international market. The series is based on the book, Shelby: The Man, The Cars, the Legend written by Wallace A. Wyss and optioned from Iconografix. It tells the true story of wild young drivers from the US, Germany, France, Italy and Britain, friends and rivals, amateurs risking everything for a shot on the tracks.

Ridley Scott commented, "I grew up in the North of England at a time when Stirling Moss was a hero. Everyone wanted to be a racing driver. This is a hugely ambitious project and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell the story of these iconic and legendary men who risked everything to win at Le Mans. It's an epic story of courage and ambition and a history of racing which has never been told on such a grand scale."

David Ellender, Global CEO, FME added, "Having Ridley and Tony on board brings something really special to the project. They are indisputably two of the best filmmakers in the world today and their involvement raises the bar on this project to a much higher level of storytelling and production. Their vast international success combined with their British background puts them in a unique position to understand characters and stories from both sides of the Atlantic."

Both Headline Pictures and Sennet Entertainment are excited about the partnership with Scott Free and their respective heads Stewart Mackinnon and Mark Sennet commented, "To work with the Scotts on a series about their boyhood heroes at a time when Europe was just beginning to emerge from the devastation of WWII gives us a unique opportunity to make this a personal story as well as a world-class drama."


P.H. O'meter

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Comments (56) Join the discussion on the forum

  • hurricaneharold 17 Jun 2013

    jellison said:
    From last years SPA 6 smile

    This is a Kirkham replica of CSX2174

  • hurricaneharold 23 Dec 2012

    dmcars123 said:
    I have been building my collection and looking at some cars for a way into Goodwood....

    The flagship race is the TT, that’s the one to take part in. The most cost effective entry would be a good DB4 GT at circa £1m.
    But if you want to win you need an e type, a GTO or a Cobra..... maybe a Bizzarini, but they are very thin on the ground.

    I think the Cobra is the most cost effective potential TT winning car.

    BUT, you have to have a special car to get an entry, replicas (ok there have been a few rare exceptions - and not cobras) will not get an entry, nor a modified road car. It has to be a car with period race history which this has. I think this is the right price for such a car. By the way, some say all the cobras that ran at Le Mans they have stories. Hasn’t this car run at Goodwood loads of times in the TT??

    They say there are only 3 or 4 proper RHD comp 289 Cobras... This car I understand from a friend who knows all about the proper 289’s is the only RHD 289 Cobra that left the factory with an FIA body (fat rear arches) like the cars that went to Carroll Shelby in the USA (of which I think he said there are 15 or so, all LHD). I saw this car last year at Salon Prive, amazing car and also very rare that it is genuinely its original chassis and body (unlike a lot of old racing cars)... I like the D type set up windscreen, how mean looking!

    Really I want a Ferrari, but a GTO is definitely out of my League!! SWB’s aren’t quick enough for the TT... smile
    Replicas do get entries for Goodwood, there were at least 8 replicas in the Shelby Cup earlier this year.

  • hurricaneharold 23 Dec 2012

    Trig289 said:
    Guys, guys, guys. STOP STOP STOP. If you keep writing such drivel , then David Cameron will ban free speech !!!!

    I find it so frustrating when people write such rubbish in these forums when they do not know their subject or facts. I will attempt to put the record straight.

    To answer some of these points raised. “No international race history” - How about the Macau Grand Prix or the Angolan Grand Prix of 1965, where Keith Schellenberg raced the car to 10th place overall ?

    “No major drivers” – How about “Gentleman” Jack Sears, the man who won the first ever British Saloon car championship, a Shelby factory/works/team driver and the ONLY factory driver to have raced all three variants of the Cobra Coupe (Daytona, Willment and A98).

    COB 6008 had an amazing history in period, granted for only about three years, but that is the beauty of this car that everyone seems to have completely missed the point on. If you look at a picture of this car at Angola in 1965 and then a picture of it now….guess what…. you are looking at the same piece of metal. What other race car can you say that about ? Not many.

    Look at other similar markets where originality is king. The current record price paid for a painting was of “The Card Players” by Paul Cezanne, sold for $250M in 2011. How can that be justified ? Simple, there will never be another and if you consider market trends a fantastic way to “store” your money, better return than a bank, arguably safer than a bank and also something you can enjoy along the way. (Personally I would prefer to race a Cobra rather than look at a painting !!) Call me cynical, but to all those who say this car is over priced I have one question , “Do you have the money ?”…I suspect not…the people with this kind of money are the ones that get it……..if I win the lottery then this would be top of my list.

    More recently the car has been invited to more Goodwood Revival’s than any other Cobra (eight I believe)….Goodwood don’t get things wrong….it speaks volumes for the integrity of the car. Add to that that Trevor Legate the Cobra historian has picked out this car to do a “special” book (His 4th Cobra book) dedicated as a one off to COB6008…why did he single out this Cobra of all Cobras to do that ? My view is down to it’s originality and complete traceable history (I believe that I am correct in saying that all owners of this car can still be traced). Also out of all the 1000 or so Cobra’s made no-one can argue with the fact that the FIA/cut back door cars were the prettiest of them all.

    If you still need convincing take a look at the web site ...enjoy

    Finally , to the gentleman who put that he would prefer a lightweight E Type at £1M, hey we all would….keep up my friend , these cars are £5M + now and that is IF you can get one of the owners to agree to sell at that price !!
    Trevor was the author of the book on COB 6008 but because Kevin asked him to do it,he did not pick the car out to do a "special" book.

  • hurricaneharold 23 Dec 2012

    jellison said:
    From last years SPA 6 smile

    That car is a Kirkham .

  • hurricaneharold 23 Dec 2012


    "Still, the only Cobra to have won the TT is the Glasel Daytona Coupe which triumphed last year. "

    The Daytona Cobra that won last year is a replica.

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