1989 AC Cobra
Year of manufacture1989
Number of seats2
1989 AC Cobra MkIV Roadster
Registration no. 4948 AC
Chassis no. SADAK3021JA017272
Engine no. 1272
Rightly regarded as one of the all-time great classic sports cars, the muscular, fire-breathing Cobra succeeded in capturing the hearts of enthusiasts like few of its contemporaries. Only 1,000-or-so Cobras of all types were built between 1962 and 1967, but such was the model's enduring popularity that production was resumed in 1982 under the auspices of Brooklands-based Autokraft.
Convinced that a market existed for an inexpensive sports car combining European chassis engineering and American V8 power, Le Mans-winning Texan racing driver Carroll Shelby concocted an unlikely alliance between AC Cars and the Ford Motor Company. The former's Ace provided the simple twin-tube chassis frame - strengthened and supplied with four-wheel disc brakes for the Cobra - into which was persuaded one of Ford's lightweight, small-block V8s. The 260ci (4.2-litre) prototype first ran in January 1962, with production commencing later that year. Exclusively for the USA initially, Cobras - minus engines - were sent from England to be finished off by Shelby in California, and it was not until late in 1963 that AC Cars in Thames Ditton got around to building the first fully finished European-specification cars.
After 75 Cobras had been built with the 260ci engine, the more powerful 289ci (4.7-litre) unit was standardised in 1963. Rack-and-pinion steering was the major MkII up-date; then in 1965 a new, stronger, coil-suspended MkIII chassis was introduced to accommodate Ford's 427ci (7.0-litre) V8 engine. Wider bodywork, extended wheelarch flares and a bigger radiator intake combined to create the definitive - and much copied - Cobra MkIII look. Only 1,000-or-so Cobras of all types were built between 1962 and 1967 but such was the model's enduring popularity that production was resumed in 1982 under the auspices of Brooklands-based Autokraft.
But for Brian Angliss, the Cobra story would have ended in 1967. The Autokraft boss had built up a business restoring Cobras and supplying parts, and in the early 1980s acquired the rights to the AC name plus a quantity of jigs and tooling from the old Thames Ditton factory. Keeping the overall style of the MkIII, Autokraft produced the MkIV, which was appropriately updated to meet current legislation and powered by a 'Federalised' Ford 5.0-litre V8 engine. Around 480 were built before Autokraft folded in 1996, largely due to costs incurred developing its new Ace model.
Previous owner Jonathan Stevens purchased this MkIV Cobra from historic sports car specialists Rod Leach's Nostalgia in March 2004. It was described at that time as a 'superlative example with a factory hand-built, 345bhp, Stage 3, SVO 5 litre Holley carburettor engine'. Performance figures of 0-100mph in 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 160mph have been mentioned...
Mr Stevens made a number of modifications to the Cobra during his ownership. Emulating the original Cobra, alterations were made to the steering column controls and the dashboard instruments and switches. The fuel tank and bodywork were modified to accept a 3½" diameter locking fuel filler and the car re-sprayed in pearlescent red, the interior being re-trimmed in dark red leather at the same time and a new tonneau cover made. In addition, a new tinted windscreen was installed and the steering and suspension upgraded. The substantial history file contains bills for the aforementioned works totalling some £24,000. Since acquisition by the current vendor, '4948 AC' had been re-sprayed again and fitted with a rollover bar and bonnet scoop (see bill for £9,538 dated May 2014 on file). Described as in generally excellent condition, this potent MkIV Cobra comes with full weather equipment and is offered with owner's handbook, a quantity of expired MoT certificates, V5C registration document and MoT to November 2014.