It’s all wrong! Too many cylinders! Yeah, true. A Cobra without a V8 is like a England without Harry Kane. On the other hand, you could argue that running a Cobra with twelve cylinders is like fielding Kane with bionic legs, because it’s not often you hear people say, “Oh crumbs that’s way too many cylinders for me.” And it’s a cracking engine, too. The Jaguar V12 has serious pedigree, powering some truly wonderful road cars like the E-Type and XJ-C, monster specials like the XJ13 and numerous Listers, although its crowning glory was driving Jaguar to the last two of its seven Le Mans victories in the XJR-9 and XJR-12.
This V12 Dax isn’t quite at the Le Mans state of tune. That saw the TWR Jaguars producing around 760hp and 611lb ft from seven litres. It’s also not the most extreme Dax Cobra, either, or the only V12. There was a 6.0-litre Mercedes V12 from the CL600 squeezed into Dax bodywork, with a massive Lyshom 3500 twin-screw supercharger added for good measure. That, by the way, churned out a thumping 600hp.
The example we have here is a little more sedate - if that’s the right word for it. This Jaguar V12 is in its original state: 5.3-litres fed by four carbs. That said, the carbs are SUs instead of the Strombergs, which the Jaguar supplied back in the day. There’s no mention of this car’s power output, but the fact that the V12 seems largely stock, other than the carbs, side-exiting exhausts and individual air filters, presumably means it’s around the quoted 272hp and 304lb ft. That’s more than enough in the little Cobra, though.
And Carol Shelby would no doubt have approved. After all, running big engines in the little Ace was his idea. It was Shelby who wrote to AC requesting it modify the Ace to accommodate a V8 instead of the sensible six-cylinder engines it was being produced with at the time. That created the Cobra legend, and ultimately the legendary 427 with its 7.0-litre Ford V8.
Dax is one of the most recognised producers of replica Cobras. The company, based in North Weald, Essex, began building fibreglass mouldings for cars in 1968. In 1975 the AC Ace’s designer, John Tojeiro, became a director of the company and that’s when the Cobra replica became known as the Dax Tojeiro. Dax is still going, under the current stewardship of John Kox, who took control in 2017. The Tojeiro is still part of its catalogue, albeit it's now called the Dax 427.
The cars are built on a steel ladder frame chassis, and these days with bonded and riveted front and rear sections to add stiffness. The basic setup of the front and rear axles, suspension and brakes is based around donor items from the Jaguar XJ40, but with bespoke geometry, Spax adjustable coil overs, front anti-roll bar and steering rack.
This particular example, being advertised by Total HeadTurners, looks to be in outstanding condition. Its stated registration is November 1999, and it’s only covered an indicated 7,713 miles. The Jet Black paint and chrome look lustrous, topped off by a nice-looking set of Avons, and the hardtop adds to its usability. The interior appears to be spot-on as well. Apart from a bit of patination to the leather bucket seats, that is, which in my view adds to, rather than detracts from, the car’s charm.
And that V12 looks glorious, with gleaming pots on the carbs and glossy cam covers and inlet manifolds. With an asking price of less than £40,000, for once the ‘how much’ comments might be written in a positive light. After all, a head-turner like this for the price of a new BMW 320i doesn't sound like a bad deal to me.
Specification | Dax Tojeiro Cobra V12
Engine: 5,344cc, V12, naturally aspirated
Transmission: Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 272
Torque (lb ft): 304
Recorded mileage: 7,713
Year registered: 1979
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £39,995
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