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Manufacturer of the Classic Cobra Switches to Electric Power

Mention the Shelby Cobra of the 1960s to most any car enthusiast, and the air of respect will immediately be given. The round-nosed Shelby Cobra roadster is a V8 muscle car legend right up there with the likes of the 1960s GTO, Mustang, and Camaro. But, many people may not know that the Cobra was based on a British car from a company called AC. That company is still around. And they still make a Cobra model similar to the Shelby’s of yesteryear. But, they now offer it as an electric vehicle.

A new white AC Cobra Series 1 Electric car sits on a lawn.
AC Cobra Series 1 Electric | AC Cars

AC has continuously produced vehicles

AC has continuously produced vehicles since 1901. They have created many models, including the AC Ace. Carroll Shelby spotted the lightweight Ace and decided to try his hand at shoehorning a Ford V8 engine into it with the intent of taking it racing. He reached out to AC, who revised the Ace and created the AC Cobra. Thus, in 1963, the Shelby Cobra was created under license with AC for the new body, and with Ford for the engine and transmission. The rest is history.

The Shelby connection

Shelby took the little muscle-bound brute of a car to the tracks and won races, set records, and gained enough interest from Ford, that Ford would hire him to develop their GT40 car. The GT40 would then go on to beat Ferrari at LeMans for a few years. But, the GT40 is another story.

The reason that so many car enthusiasts have a healthy respect for the Shelby Cobra is that the V8 power in such a lightweight vehicle meant that the car could move. It was so fast that Carroll Shelby would play tricks on the reporters covering the car. He would tape a $20 bill to the glove box door and tell the reporter to reach for it. Shelby would then smash the gas pedal. Legend has it that reporters were never able to get the $20 bill. 

Electric swapping V8 racing heritage

The focus of this piece, however, is the AC Cobra. While Shelby was busy working closely with Ford, AC was still producing the Cobra in the UK. Today, the Cobra is still in the AC stable. But, they are doing the unthinkable with that car. They are converting the car that is legendary for its V8 racing heritage into an electric car. Yup, a non-internal combustion engine driven Cobra. 

Some people would say that it is about time for the electric conversion to happen. Indeed, we have covered before how specialty shops are getting into the business of offering electric conversions of classic cars. So, AC’s new electric Cobra offering is seen as adapting with the times. But, using a car that is so closely linked to V8 racing heritage for an electric car may be distasteful to some. Yet, for others, the electric Cobra may be just what they need to feel good.

A pale blue AC Cobra roadster sits in a garage.
AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition | AC Cars

AC Cobra Series 1 Electric

The new electric car is called the AC Cobra Series 1 Electric. It is the first AC to be offered with electric motivation. Only 58 will be built. The body of the car will match the original 1960s form but will be made of high-grade composite material. Modern steering and brakes will be incorporated.

Now for the electric part. A 230-kW electric motor will provide motivation and yield a 150-mile range. Keep in mind that the Cobra is not typically a daily driver. So, the 150-mile range will be sufficient for most people as a secondary car, or as a weekend toy. Zero-to-sixty time is expected at 6.7 seconds, which by supercar standards today, is only okay, not great. Deliveries will start in late 2020 at a sticker of 138,000 British pounds, or approximately $175,000 U.S. dollars at today’s exchange rate.

A black AC Cobra convertible sits in a driveway
AC Cobra 378 | AC Cars

Alongside the electric car, AC is still producing combustion engine vehicles. The Cobra is available with a Ford EcoBoost, or GM LS3 V8 engine. Yeah, a GM V8 – not Ford. The purists will be shocked by that too, in addition to the electric power option. 

What do you think? Has the time for the electric Cobra arrived? Or, is that something that is considered sacrilegious?