AC Cobra 289 (1962 – 1968) Review

AC Cobra 289 (1962 – 1968) At A Glance


+Beautiful to look at, fearsome performance, epic soundtrack

-Not exactly cheap or practical

One of the most famous cars ever built, the story of how the AC Cobra came into existence is one of motoring’s legends. Texan chicken farmer (and racing driver), Carroll Shelby, spotted the quintessentially English AC Ace roadster and in order to give it more potential as a racing car, shoehorned in a Ford small-block V8 engine into the engine bay, and created one of the most fearsome cars of the 1960s. The AC Ace had always sold well in the UK, but its two-litre engine hardly delivered exciting performance. When Shelby discovered that the then-new small-block Ford fit straight in, the rest came easily.

The first V8 to be installed in the Cobra was the 4.2-litre (260 cu in) version, and as it weighed only a little more than the existing engines used by AC, balance wasn’t adversely affected. AC was so impressed with the V8 and Carroll Shelby that its contract with Ked Rudd, the existing supplier of the Ace’s six-cylinder, was terminated. After a year the 4.2-litre (260 cu in) engine was upgraded to a 4.7-litre (289 cu in) version. The Cobra 289 became what is now known as the second best-known AC of all time – the wheelarches remained unflared, and that meant the 289 was a pretty effective Q-car.