Carroll Shelby always wanted to build his own cars. He started out as an amazing race driver but when he had to quit the world of racing because of a heart condition, he switched to what he really wanted to do. He wanted to build really fast cars. He achieved his goal when he created the Shelby Cobra and the Shelby Cobra 427. Unfortunately, the cars proved to be too fast for the road. Today car enthusiasts around the world buy Cobra car kits, upgrade parts and build their own muscle cars.
When the British company, AC cars, announced they were no longer going to be manufacturing the AC Ace, Shelby had an idea. He saw the potential in the roadster and thought it would run great with a more powerful engine. He envisioned getting upgrade parts and putting a powerful American V8 engine into the frame of the AC Ace. He convinced the company to send him a car with everything but the engine. After getting help from the Ford Motor company, he developed the Shelby Cobra in 1962. The first models used the Ford 260 engine but that was later replaced with a 289 V8. The car was a racing beast.
Shelby was not satisfied with the lightweight and very fast car that he created so he went back to work on it. He knew he could do more with upgrade parts. He saw even more potential from the marriage of the AC Cars’ frame with the Ford engine. He started work on his next creation, the Shelby 427, in 1964. In this version, he took a Ford big block 7 liter engine. People told him that he was crazy to put that much power in such a light car. He did not care about all of that and he went ahead with his plans. His attitude towards the situation mirrors that of most race drivers who do not think it is possible to have a car with “too much power.”
The small frame of the original cobra proved to make the process more challenging. Shelby found he had to make some adjustments to the body of the car to accommodate the larger engine. He widened the body and made adjustments to the suspension and chassis. While the Cobra 427 looks almost identical to the original, it is actually very different.
The Cobra 427 was stunningly fast. It was able to get from zero to 60 in about four seconds. It took the car 10.3 seconds to get from zero to 100. If the car was developed today, it would be considered to be very, very fast. This was considered to be the fastest American car for a number of years.
The Cobra 427 car was only manufactured from 1965 until 1967. As fast an amazing as the car was, there were problems when people tried to take it from the race track to the road. In the first place, it was designed to be a race car. It had few of the safety features that we expect in cars that are driven around on the roads today. It was a roadster. The “roof” was a piece of canvass that was just there to keep the driver dry if it rained. It turned out to be problematic because the car was dangerous when driven on a wet road.
The real problems came from what made the car so special. It accelerated so fast and so easily. People simply could not handle so much power. Shelby had built several versions of the Cobra 427. One was to be used just for competition but others were meant to be driven on the street and only used from time to time on the race track. It remains unclear as to how many people crashed their Cobra 427 cars but it is one of the most remarkable automobiles ever made. It remains one of the most admired cars ever made.
Today, there are not many real Cobra 427 cars around to buy. As a consequence, using upgrade parts and with a Shelby Cobra kit car, car enthusiasts around the world are able to get their own custom roadster in the form of a Cobra replica.