When you compare the Cobra 260/289-AC with the Ace or the Ace Bristol roadsters, it differed slightly in three areas. First is the basic chassis; second is the suspension; and third is its body design. Back then the supplies of the Bristol engines declined and Shelby approached AC to supply the engineless Aces.
Soon, the Ace was developed and the chassis was stiffened up. The overall pattern was similar to the Acecas model. It had a limited slip installed similar to the Salisbury final drive. Shelby did add some final and smaller grilled and broader wheel arches to support the wider tires. But he did not disturb the styling and let it be the same as Ace.
All the Shelby Cobras came with 4 wheel disc brakes. It was decided to have inboard rear brakes. But during production they opted for the outboard units. The Cobra 260/289-AC had a steering box was canted for the Ford engine. However, the suspension and steering geometry stayed the same with few changes here and there.
The cars that arrived at the Shelby’s came in with the engines and gearboxes from California. It was the assembly that happened in the UK. This convertible was known for being lightweight engine and compact thinwall V-8. It was initially in the Ford’s Fairlane which was adopted in this one. Since the size of the original engine was 260 cubic inches, they could be fitted in the first 75 Cobras. There were additions of 4-speed Borg-Warner along with the engine.
The rest of the 51 cars had 289 cubic inch engine and fulfilled the FIA standards. It was pretty amazing that this model campaigned all through the Europe between 1964 and 1966. Interestingly, this model was successful in handling the expectations and racked up several victories and appreciations all over the continent.
THE NEW GENERATION:
Next to hit the roads were the Mark II, Shelby Cobras. They were built around 1963 and retained their original transverse spring Ace Chassis. This model had 289 engine but it featured the rack-and-pinion steering. This was a definite improvement that was appreciated by both the users and the critics. Precisely 528 cars were built and the old Ace chassis discontinued its production.
Initially it was decided that the Cobra was to be sold only for the U.S. however, it did not survive long. Around 1963 they had their first batch of right-hand-drive cars ready. But they only launched it towards the end 1964 in the British markets. Later they hit all over Europe and witnessed some success.
It was the 1965 that saw an end of Ace-chassis Cobra. Soon the company focused on producing the ferocious Cobra 427. It had an altogether new chassis and was dubbed as “Mark III.” But this small-block Cobra had only 27 like it and had to be terminated around 1968! Carroll Shelby produced his iconic 427 Cobra in the year 1967 and sold it in 1968.