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  AC Shelby Cobra Le Mans
 

  Article Image gallery (145) Chassis (4) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1963
Numbers built:9
Successor:AC Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 22, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionCreated in 1962 by combining an AC chassis and shell with a substantially tweaked Ford small-block V8, the AC Shelby Cobra was a mighty weapon on tight and twisty tracks. Its most obvious weakness was the car's poor aerodynamics, which proved a real handicap on tracks like Le Mans where top speed was essential. There was no immediate fix but for the 1963 season, AC and Shelby created a small batch of competition cars that would cut through just a little better than the standard Cobra.

Known as the Le Mans Coupe, these 'slippery' Cobras were part of a batch of around a dozen works-prepared competition cars built for the 1963 season. They used the same straightforward steel ladder frame AC chassis with lower wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the front and back. Considering the distance that needed to be covered at Le Mans, Shelby built the engines for that cars that would actually race in the 24 Hours with a slightly milder tune. Displacing 4.7 litre, the Ford V8 was still good for well over 330 bhp.

The single most distinguishing element of the Le Mans Cobras was the removable hardtop roof, which reduced the car's drag considerably. Other features included wider wheel-arches to clear the Dunlop magnesium wheels and a scoop on the engine cover to force-feed fresh air into the four Weber carburettors. A larger fuel tank was also fitted, equipped with a quick release filler cap mounted on top of the hardtop. Three examples were initially built but mainly due to Ford's reluctance to fund the effort, only two were ultimately entered at Le Mans in 1963.

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  Article Image gallery (145) Chassis (4) Specifications