Celebrating 50 years of the AC Cobra

In the coming years, many of the classics of the 1960s will be celebrating their 50th birthdays. For example, last week the music magazine RollingStone indicated that Bob Dylan’s eponymous debut album recently celebrated its half-a-century milestone. And while it wasn’t until the “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” hit stores a year later that Dylan came into his own as a songwriter and entered the public consciousness, the album is still a reminder of Dylan’s influence. (It notably includes covers of “House of the Rising Sun” and “In My Time of Dyin,” renditions that would later spawn versions by The Animals and Led Zeppelin).

This past February, the AC Cobra – known to many as simply the Shelby Cobra – celebrated its 50th birthday with a spread in that month’s edition of Hot Rod Magazine. The brainchild of Carroll Shelby, a renowned race car driver looking to retire from the business, the car was fueled by the passion for racing Henry Ford was developing at the time.

As such, while AC Motors was a relatively small outlet, it was able to profit from a partnership with Ford – and its unlimited resources – to produce a model that has since stood the test of time attracting all types of collectors. Combining 427ci, V-8 engines with lightweight, hand-crafted bodies that included flared fenders, the cars became a sought after commodity for their style, performance and ability to hit white-knuckle speeds of 200 mph.

And while the original models can still be found, rarer, luxury versions have made the most headlines. For instance, the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake making history most notably in 2007, when it sold for more than $5 million at auction.

Shelby himself famously boasted that this model could best just about any car produced. Calling it the “fastest street legal Cobra” he ever owned, he said the car could hit 60 mph in roughly three seconds. And as with Bob Dylan, the craftsmanship of these two legends was good enough to put their creations among the best, even 50 years later.