1964 AC Cobra


  • Year of manufacture 
  • Car type 
  • Lot number 
  • Drive 
  • Condition 
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 


French title - Unique racing success at Le Mans 1964 - 18th - The only 'privateer' Cobra to finish the Le Mans race - Known history, eligible for Le Mans Classic - High quality restoration and preparation In 1904, a small business started up in England : Autocars and Accessories LTD, based in Thames Ditton from 1911. It took the name AC Cars (for Auto Carriers) in 1927 and built sports cars. The AC Ace roadster and Aceca coupé appeared in 1953, with all round independent suspension equipped with the trademark 6-cylinder 1991cc overhead cam engine dating from 1919...Two years later, the six cyinder Bristol engine, derived from the pre-war BMW 328 motor became an option for both the Ace and Aceca. In 1961 Bristol switched to American V8 power for their own cars but AC sports cars continued to be fitted with the Bristol engine and a restyled Ace with Ford Zephyr engine was also added to AC's model range. At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic, a brilliant former racing driver from Texas, Carroll Shelby, was wondering how to catch up with Ferrari. Shelby wasn't the first to consider a large American engine, powerful, reliable and relatively inexpensive, in a lightweight, high-performing European chassis. Allard had already tried it, but the American cocktail resulted in the best performing car. The prototype CSX2000 (CSX for Carroll Shelby Export, meaning LHD) appeared in Santa Fe Springs near Los Angeles, at the start of 1962. The production of the first Cobra 260 series began the same year (for 260 cubic inches, the engine size of the period Ford V8). The Cobras were built, initially in Santa Fe Springs, and later in Venice, California. Fitted with all-round disc brakes, they had the steering box of the AC Ace. The 289 swiftly followed the 260 V8, this time sporting a 4.7-litre engine that produced 271 bhp at 5,800 rpm in the street version, which could be increased to 385 bhp for competition cars. The car had rack and pinion steering, and for cooling purposes, the rear brakes were put back in the wheels, and the car was fitted with wider wheels and wheel arches to improve its road-holding as well as its looks. Shelby then went further still, by putting a 425 bhp 7-litre Ford engine into the car. The Cobra 427 was originally designed because Carroll Shelby hadn't been able to keep up with Ferrari in the World Manufacturers Championship in 1964, although he had only been narrowly defeated. He knew that the Cobra 289 cu.in. would not be able to compete with the Ferrari LM. Encouraged by Ken Miles, one of the instigators of the project, Carroll Shelby then thought of swapping the Ford 289 engine, which in the most highly developed versions produced 385 bhp, with the Ford Nascar 427 cu.in. engine that could easily produce 500 bhp without compromising reliability. In 1963, the AC Cobras appeared in the FIA GT World Championship but were beaten by the Ferrari GTOs. They did, however, win the American SCCA Championship. In Europe, the famous Jo Schlesser won the highly competitive Critérium des Cévennes and came second in the Tour de Corse. The Cobra made its first appearance at Le Mans in 1963, resulting in a retirement for the # 4 of Hugus / Jopp, and an encouraging 7th place for the #3 of Bolton and Sanderson. There was a larger American contingent at Le Mans the following year, with three Ford GT40s, the official Cobra Daytona coupés, Shelby's # 5 driven by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant, # 6 by Chris Amon and Jochen Neerpash and the streamlined AC coupé entered by AC Cars: # 3 , driven by Jack Sears and Peter Bolton. This proved to be a learning experience, as only one of the official AC and Ford entries, # 5, crossed the finish line, 4th overall and 1st in GT. The only other AC Cobra belonged to the French importer Chardonnet, who had entered COX 6010, driven by the capable Jean de Mortemart and Régis Fraissinet. They finished 18th overall, having covered the 3880,280 km at an average speed of 161,970 km/h, without a problem. The following year, the two friends achieved 9th place overall at the wheel of another hybrid, the Iso Grifo A3C designed by Giotto Bizzarini. The car in the sale was delivered to the official French marque importer, Établissements Chardonnet, 16 Rue Etienne Marcel in Pantin near Paris, on 19 March 1964. COX6010 was liveried in " Princess Blue " with red leather interior. On 2 April 1964 it was acquired by Count Jean de Montemart, who had already bought a Cobra, but this one was for racing, although it was Chardonnet who entered the car for the 1964 Le Mans 24 Hours, with Régis Fraissinet as co-driver. The initial application for the race, filled in by Henri Chardonnet and sent to the ACO in March, indicated that the drivers would be Claude Ballot-Lena and Jean-Claude Magne. As Count de Montemart bought the car on 2 April, the race entry was actually in his name with Régis Fraissinet. This was still the era of heroes when wealthy amateurs were able to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours. He enlisted the symbolic support of an oil executive and a tyre firm. His co-driver Régis Fraissinet, heir to a dynasty of industrialists, announced to the press that he raced in order to provide a different perspective on his everyday life : " There are those who like to play tennis and those who prefer golf. I play tennis and golf but, most of all, I prefer to race cars... ". These gentlemen proved equal to the challenge and finished the race in 18th place, which any driver in the Le Mans 24 Hours would consider a victory. Régis Fraissinet recalls : " This was the year that Carroll Shelby appeared on the scene with his Shelby Cobras. However, our car made it to the end ! For that we earned a new engine ! " The car was prepared for Le Mans at the AC factory, as indicated in the Shelby American World Registry. It was fitted with an air intake on the bonnet, a roll-cage and wider, stronger wire wheels. It was prepared for endurance / circuit racing with the addition of an extra aluminium fuel tank, stiffer suspension, high-beam headlights and various other upgrades. An original fibreglass hard-top was also put on the car to improve the aerodynamics and as protection in the case of bad weather. Lights to illuminate the racing numbers during the night section of the Le Mans race were installed on the right-hand door and at the front of the bonnet. The car also took part in the Coupes de Paris in Monthléry, in the 'Coupe des USA 1964' class. Jean de Mortemart tussled neck and neck with Jean Marie Vincent who was also in a Cobra. Mortemart had an accident later on and sold the car to Vincent. The real story about this car starts here. The car remained with him for a few years as he continued to race Cobras. He owned CSX 2001, CSX2142 and COX6010 at the same time. He fixed the front of the car using the first front quarter of the frame taken from CSX2142 and made an ugly but convenient fiberglass front bonnet and continued to race. (Jean Marie Vincent had already modified CSX2001 in 1964). The car was poorly painted in white then. After some time the car was found untended in a private car park and as the rent had not been paid, the owner called the gendarmerie and the car was towed away to the authorised junkyard in Clamart near Paris. On March 6th 1969, alerted by a friend who saw it lying there with no wheels, Bernard Maitre bought it straight away for 250 Francs... from Mr Charraux, director of the scrapyard. This gentleman was the co-founder with Jacques Lavost of the AC Automobile Club in France in 1967 and more recently, consultant for the FIA and FFSA for historic racing cars. A great AC enthusiast, he saved the car from being destroyed. (see pictures and bill of sale on website). He took the wheels off his own AC Bristol and put them on COX6010 in order to tow it home. The car was in poor condition but pretty much complete, apart from the engine (a 289 ci block was sitting on the passenger side) and the missing wheels. The leather was red and the paint underneath the white colour was the original Princess blue. He remembers that the car had the serial numbers 6010 stamped on the doors and on the trunk. He sold it, as it was, in August 1969 to Bernard Alter, from Alsace, who was in the process of restoring COX6002, another French Cobra. He needed parts, and at that time Cobras were very scarce in France. Probably less than 10 had been sold in this country. The two Cobras were sent to the workshop of Bernard Afchain who restored COX6002. Bernard Afchain registered COX6010 in his name on September 15th 1974 and undertook a complete restoration. As the chassis was damaged, he ordered a chassis from David Sanderson in England, and had his original chassis number stamped on it. The car underwent certain modifications mechanically and to the body which was made by Brian Angliss. The front and rear wings and the rear wheel arches were widened to make room for magnificent Halibrand alloy wheels (7.5' in the front et 8.5' in the back) with centre lock as most of the racing Cobras. Competition Girling aluminium calipers with air scoops have been added, CR in front and OR in the back. The extra Le Mans fuel tank still exists but has been taken off the car, which still has the main tank (70L) boosted by a smaller one (40L) situated in the space for the spare wheel. The original gearbox was replaced, as on most Cobras, with an aluminium T10 " Side Loader " that is more robust, with a better performance. The same goes for the original differential casing that will be sold with the car, but was replaced with a stronger aluminium one. The bodywork was renewed during this restoration, and it is interesting to note that the interior of the doors, bonnet and boot-lid have the original paint and the series number 6010 is stamped on all these opening parts. They even show some of the white paint along the tubing. The bonnet with 6010 stamped on it was bought back later from JM Vincent to complete t