History Of The Cobra
Carroll Shelby 1923 - 2012
Carroll Shelby’s idea became reality when he learned that AC Cars in Great Britain lost the engine supplier for their Bristol sports car. Shelby contacted AC Cars and told them his idea. They were enthusiastic and told him to reach back out when he had an engine manufacturer lined up.
Shelby proposed his sports car to Ford Motor Company, who liked the idea of offering a sports car that would go head-to-head with the Chevrolet Corvette. Carroll, always the racer, explained his ambition to race Cobras against Corvette in the USA and against Ferrari in Europe. He wanted to win the World Manufacturer’s GT Championship that had been the sole property of Ferrari since its inception.
In 1962, Shelby created Shelby American, a new company to build his car in California. Equipped with the Ford 260 and later the 289 cubic-inch engines, the Cobra proved to be a success for Ford dealers and on racetracks worldwide.
The Cobras dominated Corvettes in North America, winning races coast to coast. On July 4, 1965, the Cobra (in roadster and coupe form) won the World Manufacturers’ GT Championship, as the team soundly defeated Ferrari. Shelby American is the only American vehicle manufacturer to win the prestigious championship, before or since.
During his international racing career, Carroll Shelby drove the fastest sports cars of the day.
Although obviously fast, the Ferraris, Maserati’s, Aston Martins and Jaguars were very expensive and featured very complex engines.
Shelby was impressed by the speed of these sports cars, but not the unreliable engines that required constant maintenance and repair. With this idea in mind, he wondered why no one in the United States built a sports car that offered European handling and balance with an American V-8 engine that could be easily serviced at any car dealership or independent garage. He began to think of building such a sports car and selling it for half the price of those from European marques. During a dream, he came up with the name for his car, the Cobra.