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AC Cobra 427 buying guide (1965-1967)

AC Cobra 427 side AC Cobra 427 rear AC Cobra 427 interior AC Cobra 427 front AC Cobra 427 engine Launched in 1965, the AC Cobra 427 was the world’s most powerful car in its day. It was also the fastest car tested by Autocar magazine that year, established the Guinness Book of Records’ fastest 0-100-0mph time, and held it for ages.

So the Shelby Cobra was the ultimate road rocket, even if it wasn’t as successful on the track as its forebear, the 289 MkII. But by 1965 the 289 racers were up against serious competition: the Cobra needed more power. Ever-wider wings clad a tubular chassis with coil springs instead of leafs and a race-developed 420bhp Ford 427ci (6997cc) V8. There were three derivations: Competition, Street/Competition and road cars.

Like many radical designs the 427 was not a sales success. It was never homologated by the FIA, as fewer than the required 100 cars were built, and the road cars were fitted with cheaper, more fragile 428 Police Interceptor engines. In total, 320 MkIII Cobra chassis/bodies were sent to Shelby and 27 were constructed and sold in Britain and Europe with the 289cu in engines, sold as AC 289s.

Of the 320 officially constructed 427 Cobras (the chassis numbers go up to 350 but 30 were unused), many were developed and raced with success by privateers and, as such, they remain some of the most mystical and therefore collectable of all Cobras.


Leading specialist and expert Rod Leach has dealt with over 350 Cobras since establishing his Nostalgia business in 1973. ‘There is a small but keen market in the UK and, while there is no typical 427 Cobra buyer, they are all great enthusiasts,’ he says.

‘Prices go up when the overall market is good and then stay there. Because these cars are so rare and enjoyable to drive they will never go down in value. Supply is still outstripped by demand.’

Originality is important, but some cars have had their 428 engine replaced with an authentic 427. ‘That’s acceptable, but the car must retain its four-speed gearbox,’ says Rod.

Cobras have risen steadily in value and are in huge demand, offering sensational performance with ease of maintenance.


‘Of course, you need to know exactly what you are buying because of all the replicas and fake cars out there. The absolutely crucial point is to double-check the chassis number,’ says Leach. ‘There is a worldwide registry for all the cars in the Shelby American Automobile Club tome that lists all the chassis numbers but it is not entirely gospel. Just to confuse the issue, a few cars share the same chassis number. This is inevitable because many of them were raced and crashed, resulting in rebuilds over the years. Also, there is a registry for Cobras within the British AC Owners Club.’

As with many sports and racing cars there are plenty of urban myths and stories about the provenance of some 427s, including Cobras being hidden by members of the mafia, etc. So you must consult a real expert before signing a (very) large cheque. In the good old days, crashed cars were junked and chassis numbers were transferred to new cars so you really need to know your onions. Provenance is all with a Cobra so it is essential that your research is done with forensic thoroughness.

With original 1965 427s selling for up to a million pounds, the AC Cobra 427 MkIII S/C Continuation cars (as pictured here, road-registered as a 1966 Historic Vehicle) seem like good value at about half the cost. With cast-iron AC Cars Ltd certification (and FIA eligiblity), this 427 appears and drives exactly like the 1960s original. Only ten were built in total during the early 1990s.

Because what you’re really buying is provenance, and because Cobras are highly valued, this isn’t the kind of buying guide that warns of frilly wheelarches and blue smoke on start-up. That said, all Cobras feature aluminium bodywork, so watch for stress cracks and dents. A complete body rebuild costs around £100,000.

But the really good news is that these powerful cars are easy to run and maintain. All components are available, with mechanical parts well priced in American catalogues. Things get expensive with performance components such as heads, high-rise manifolds and Weber carburettors, but figure on a price around £10,000 for a full engine rebuild by a specialist such as Mathwall Engineering.


The Shelby Cobra 427 is one of the rarest and most powerful road cars ever manufactured. Original cars can be worth more than £1 million, so it is essential to know exactly what you are purchasing. Speak to the AC Owners Club and Bill Shepherd who, although he now specialises in Mustangs, has a great wealth of experience racing and preparing Cobras, at www.billshepherdmustang.com; +44 (0)1932 340888.

But most definitely talk with Rod Leach, who is a fund of information on the complicated history of this great marque. The story of AC itself, the Cobra, Shelby, lawsuits, the various owners of the company and the rights to the name, Continuation Cobras, Autokraft, replicas, kit cars, etc, etc – it’s a snake pit that can catch out even the most agile researcher. Make sure you don’t get bitten.


1962: The original MkI was manufactured from 1962 to 1963. The cars were constructed in Thames Ditton and the initial prototype chassis, CSX 0001, was fitted with a 221ci engine and tested in Britain. The engine and gearbox were then removed and the chassis shipped to Carroll Shelby in Los Angeles where a 260ci (4.2-litre) V8 was fitted, reputedly in just eight hours. In total 75 MkI 260s were produced.

1963: The MkII followed with the 289ci (4.7-litre) engine and the first 51 continued with worm-and-sector steering. A further 538 MkIIs were then produced with rack-and-pinion steering taken from the MGB.

1965: The 427 (MkIII) was launched and ran until 1967, with a total of 320 manufactured. Carroll Shelby stopped importing chassis/bodies in 1967 but thereafter AC cars continued producing cars in Britain with the 289ci engine (and the 427’s tubular chassis and independent suspension) until 1969.

Autokraft: Brian Angliss of CP Autokraft started building cars using Cobra parts and AC shells from the mid-1970s and began manufacturing the MkIV in the early 1980s. 500 were built.

Continuation cars: The first AC Cobra 427 S/C Continuation was specially commissioned and built in 1990, and over the next 13 years just ten Continuation Cobras were constructed. Nine were left-hand drive, of which five remain in the UK; one right-hand-drive example went to New Zealand. Now worth between £250,000 and £300,000+.

Other ‘Cobras’: Autokraft went into receivership in 1996. Alan Lubinsky then developed the MkV and carbon-bodied CRS. Carroll Shelby built ‘continuation’ versions of the 289 FIA and 427 S/C.
AC Cobra 427 side AC Cobra 427 rear AC Cobra 427 interior AC Cobra 427 front AC Cobra 427 engine
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AC Cobra cars for sale

8 Search results
AC Cobra
29999 95400 GBP
  • £95,400 £95,400

    We are pleased to present this stunning and rare LHD hand built aluminium bodied AC Cobra MkIV finished in Porsche Guards Red with handcrafted tan leather interior with unmarked cream carpets, 5ltr Ford 302 V8 injection engine with 5-speed manual gearbox, 9'500 miles from new, high spec including the following - unmarked 16" colour coded Halibrand wheels with polished spinners, chrome stone guards, Monza fuel filler cap, Mota lita wood rim steering wheel and gear knob, full weather equipment, glass wind wings, just completed full service by ourselves Redline Engineering UK, road tax & Mot, stainless sports exhaust tail pipes, colour coded aluminium riveted bonnet scoop, this stunning looking AC is joy to drive and sounds fantastic, offering great enjoyment and tremendous value when compared to original MkII and MkIII Cobras. Year: 1987 Price: £95,400 For more information call 0845 241 5557

    • Year: 1987

    • Last update: about 21 hours old

    For sale
  • Redline Engineering
    0845 241 5557
    see details
  • £91,995 £91,995

    Redline Engineering UK Ltd is delighted to present this exceptional AC Cobra Mk4 for sale. Like all original AC vehicle this AC was built in true traditional fashion by traditional craftsman producing a hand built sports car, hand built aluminium bodied ,handcrafted individel interior. Finished in BMW Black with Black nappa leather interior, 5ltr V8 Ford injection 302 engine, 5 speed manual gearbox, 3 owners, 13’300 miles from new, performance exhaust system, 16” Black colour coded Halibrand wheels with our very own ‘Redline spinners’, polished side vents, radio / CD, glass wind wings, smoked sun visors, chrome stone guards, alarm/immobiliser, fully documented service history file including being serviced by Redline Engineering UK for last 11 years, Tax & Mot, full weather equipment & tool kit complete car cover, this delightful machine delivers a typical V8 sound, matched with its striking Black painted work, a real head turner for any enthusiast. Year: 1990 Mileage: 13,300 Price: £91,995 For more information call 0845 241 5557

    • Year: 1990

    • Last update: about 21 hours old

    For sale
  • Redline Engineering
    0845 241 5557
    see details
  • Few cars have the ability to be suitable for both fast road use and competitive race use whilst being what is probably the most iconic car in existence; a Cobra. It is thus no surprise that Cobras consistently take the top step of the Podium at events including the Tour Auto (Won in 2014 by a Cobra 289). This sensational example is race ready and in full FIA specification, fresh from its recent comprehensive restoration and is eligible for world's most coveted events including notably this year's Le Mans 24hrs Support Race, the 2016 Le Mans Classic, Tour Auto, Goodwood Revival and many more.

    • Last update: about 21 hours old

    For sale
  • DK Engineering
    01923 287 687
    see details
  • £34,995 £34,995

    1995 (M) AC 427 Cobra Dax Replica, 2 Door Cabriolet, DAX Red, Magnolia, previous owners 1, number of keys 2, 416 miles, MOT'd until 8th July, 2015. Dax has been producing Cobra replica's for over 40 years with over 4000 cars sold to date. The company's flair for innovation and commitment to product improvement has consistently kept ahead of the field. The breathtaking looks, the ‘Beethovenesque’ tunes produced by the engine, and the thunderous roar of the exhaust set the scene for an exhilarating driving experience The ownership of the car as highlighted by the V5 is based on the original Chassis used for the car and does not reflect the number of owners the DAX has had! More Information The specification of the car (as of June 2014) is as follows: Engine The car has a Ford Boss 302 Engine which has been Bored to +0.03’ Full Engine Balance by Trevor Wilkinson Magnum Fast Road Cam 292 duration Anit Pump up Lifters High Volume Oil Pump Heavy duty Oil Pump Drive New Camshaft Bearing 1 set of Heavy duty Main Bearing Cap Bolts BYRMS/5 1 set Heavy duty Main Bearing Shells BYMMS590P 1 set Heavy duty Con Rod Bearing Shells BYCB634P 1 set Heavy duty Con Rob Bolts Cloyes True Roller Timing C

    • Year: 1995

    • Last update: about 21 hours old

    • Mileage: 416 mi

    For sale
  • Amari Supercars
    01772 663 777
    see details
  •   Chassis Number  COB 6120   Right Hand Drive:  UK Supplied: Original Registration NumberThe Mk III Cobra was produced between 1965 and 1968. The updated chassis of the Mk III was designed by Bob Negstadt of Shelby-American and Allen Turner of AC in co-operation with Ford, Detroit. The previous model chassis was modified with its main tubes enlarged and set further apart and coil springs replaced the transverse leaf arrangement. Cars with 289 cu in (4.7 litre) engines were sold in Britain and Europe while America took the 427 with a 7-litre engine versionThe MK III missed homologation for the 1965 racing season and was not raced by the Shelby team, however the cars were raced successfully by many privateers and went on to win races all the way into the 1970s. Our car was supplied new on the 1st September 1967 to William Cadbury by Lincoln Motors of Birmingham UK. # 6120 is fully detailed in the latest “Shelby American” World Registry and the car was also featured and road tested in “Autocar” w/e 21st April 1979, copy of the magazine is included in historical chassis file.We understand from historical records that the motorcar had been owned by a number of very well-known collectors who have had the Cobra maintained to exceptional standards. The last owner acquired the AC some 10 years ago and had commissioned a comprehensive restoration which has just been completed (August 2014) by one of the UK leading AC restorers Historic Automobiles Ltd. Also accompanying the car is an independent report carried out by two ACOC accredited independent period AC Cobra specialists.We are delighted to offer for sale this rare, much sought after and highly collectable concours prepared AC Cobra MKIII. The motorcar is now available for immediate inspection at our central London showrooms.

    • Last update: about 1 month old

    For sale
  • Hexagon Classics
    see details
  • AK AC Cobra Roadster 5 Speed Manual 6.2L V8 finished in Pearlescent Blue with Full "Mushroom" Cream Leather with Blue Piping and Contrast Stitching, Registered in October 2013, One Owner from New, Cheverolt LS3 Aluminium Engine, Omex Technology ECU Kit, 18 Inch Silver and White Halibrand Replica Split Rim Alloys, TKO 5 Speed Gearbox, Limited Slip Differential, Two 5 Inch Stainless Steel Exhaust Pipes, Lucas P700 Halogen Headlamps, Power Steering, Stainless Steel Washer and Header Tanks, Blue Silicon Hoses, Front and Rear Stainless Steel Nudge Bars, Twin Roll Over Bars, Wind Wings, Sun Visors, Tinted Windscreen, Hydraulic Boot and Bonnet, Full Soft Top Roof and Half Tonneau Factory Fitted Cover, Aluminium Aston Filler Cap, Aluminium Stalk Ends, Stainless Steel Stone Guards, Handbrake Handle, Gear Knob, Triple Splitter Wing, Side Vents and Console Buttons, Willians 4 Point Racing Harnesses, Mountney M Range Steering Wheel, Luxury Wilton Blue Carpeting Throughout, Black Faced Smiths Flight Range Instrument Set and Stainless Steel Switchgear, Red Illuminated Dials with Brushed Stainless Steel Console Buttons with Blue Black Lights, Huge History File with Original Parts and Build Invoic

    • Year: 2013

    • Last update: 2 months old

    For sale
  • Targa Florio
    01243 641117
    see details
  • 6 SPEED GEAR BOX, POWER STEERING, HARD TOP ROOF Please fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly. Please let us know the vehicle you are enquiring about. Between 3 and 12 characters. Between 3 and 60 characters. Between 3 and 100 characters. Must be a valid email address. Between 5 and 100 characters. Min 5, max 5000 characters. Please complete the captcha. Darren Allick Cars , 3 Ellerbeck Court, Stokesley Business Park, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, TS9 5PT | Telephone: 01642 711666 Copyright © 2015 Darren Allick Cars. All Rights Reserved.

    • Year: 1980

    • Last update: 18 days old

    • Mileage: 8000 mi

    For sale
  • Darren Allick
    01642 711666
    see details
  • £29,999 £29,999

    Dax Tojerio AC Replica, 4.6 Rover V8 with Jaguar running gear, 18" Image Halibrand alloys, stainless steel side pipes, stainless steel manifold, holley 4 barrel carb, willans harnesses, chrome roll hoops, chrome exterior detailing, full cream leather with black piping, new Mota-Lita wood steering wheel, luxury carpets, shortshifter, coilover adjustable suspension all setup inc corner weights, 5 speed manual gearbox, clifford concept alarm system 300+BHP. Just been serviced less than 100 miles ago.

    • Year: 2005

    • Last update: 16 days old

    • Mileage: 1489 mi

    For sale
  • Silverlink Cars
    0191 460 7204
    see details
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