10. The rollover hoop was not standard equipment. Most Cobras you see today have a beautiful and quite useful chrome rollover hoop located behind the driver's seat. While it might seem like a great design for anyone who doesn't want to smear their grey matter across the blacktop, apparently Shelby didn't think it was necessary enough to include in the original equipment.
Ten Facts about the AC Cobra
Carroll Shelby made history when he fabricated the AC Cobra, a roadster that is now legendary among car enthusiasts and the public in general. Shelby created a Frankenstein-style monster by shoving a big Ford V-8 engine into the AC Ace chassis, marrying American muscle with British roadster finesse. While most people know what the AC Cobra is about at least vaguely, there are many facts that are largely unknown about the car. How many of the following ten did you know about?
9. The fuel cap was highly functional. Sure, the big alloy fuel filler cap looks great and makes a striking fashion statement, but it was function first when it was created for the Cobra. It actually contains a quick-release design that allows the cap to be opened quickly during a race, which is perfect for quick pit stops.
8. The wire wheels had to be changed out for Halibrand alloy wheels. The original Cobras came with wire wheels, like the Ace, but that was quickly abandoned later on. The Ford 427 engine was so powerful it would deform the wire wheels, which is why Shelby went with Halibrand alloy wheels that were tougher.
6. The fender flares were not put in just for looks. The engine bay on the Cobra was quite crowded and hot, particularly on the 427 models. To help keep the large engines from overheating, Shelby cut large side grilles and decorated them with chrome. The grilles allowed the extreme amount of heat that built up under the hood escape the engine bay, keeping things in control.
5. Shelby had to widen the Ace's track considerably. The Cobra's wheels and tires were much larger than the tiny ones found on the Ace, which meant Shelby had to expand the front and rear track width. Instead of redesigning entire body panels to accommodate the extra width, Shelby added flared wheel arches.
4. Only the Cobra 427 models came with the side exhaust configuration. 427 models were for all intents and purposes race cars that had been modified so they were legal to drive on the street, if not just barely. The large pipes, which were usually covered with chrome, gave the car a more muscular look.
3. Most AC Cobras you see today are replicas, not one of the original run of cars. The Cobra was actually made for only a short time, from 1962 to 1965. In 1966 Shelby American liquidated his stock and closed up shop, making the existing cars incredibly valuable. Only 655 models with leaf springs were made, and another 343 with coil springs in the rear were produced, bringing the production total to only 998. Plenty of people have made replicas of varying quality and truthfulness to the original cars.
2. Speaking of the car's rear suspension, the Cobras all started out with leaf springs. That configuration was updated for the 427, which needed a more modern coil-spring suspension to handle the engine's incredible output. That being said, the 427 still produced an oversupply of power, making it incredibly easy for owners to wreck out if they did not treat the vehicle with caution.
1. Some people claim that the introduction of the 427 engine in the production Cobra shortly after Shelby won the LeMans race was the trigger for speed limits in the United Kingdom. The car had a top speed of 163 mph, thanks to the 485 horsepower on tap, making it a true speed demon. This claim has not been validated, but there is enough evidence to make it at least plausible.