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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

11 Search results
AC Cobra
29999 99990 GBP
  • Gardener Douglas GD 427 Mk4 AC Cobra Roadster 5 Speed Manual 6.3L V8 finished in Black with Black Roof registered September 2007, 18 Inch Split Rim Period Alloys, Roadcraft 383ci Chevy Engine with 400BHP and 400lbf.ft, Full Black Leather Interior, Tremec TKO600 Gearbox, Forged Crank, Edelbrock Performer-RPM Aluminium Heads; Air-gap Inlet Manifold and Carburettor and Roller Cam, MSD Distributer and MSD-6AL Ignition, Aluminium Water Pump, Billet Flywheel, HD Clutch, Mohair Soft Top, 4 Point Willans Harness, Huge History File with Original Parts and Build Invoices. Fully Valeted; 12 Months MOT; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Year: 2007

    Last update: 7 Days Old
    For sale
  • Targa Florio
    01243 641117
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  • 1993 AC Cobra MK IV Lightweight Original Factory Lightweight: Left Hand Drive EU Registered / Taxes Paid: 1 of only 12 cars Produced AC Owners Club Concours Winner AC Cars are Britain’s oldest car manufacturer and have the unique distinction of having been in production since 1901. The AC name carries much prestige, international recognition and ranks alongside other major worldwide historic marques. 1961: AC was approached by Carroll Shelby to use a small block Ford V8 engine in the Ace chassis, producing the AC Cobra. Shelby needed a car that could compete with the Chevrolet Corvette in US sports car racing. The resulting Cobra was a very powerful roadster, and it is commonly blamed for the introduction of the 70 mph (113 km/h) limit on British motorways. This was in fact a major factor in the decision, after a coupe version was caught doing 196 mph (315 km/h) during a test run. The rest they say is history! Our original Mk IV Lightweight, which is one of only twelve genuine hand built aluminium bodied examples built by AC Cars Ltd. Re-imported back to the UK from USA in 2009 and was the subject of a six-figure complete ‘Nut and Bolt’ body off bare rolling chassis concours restor

    • Year: 1993

    Last update: 3 Days Old
    For sale
  • see details
  • 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 1 Month Old
    For sale
  • Redline Engineering
    0845 241 5557
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  • 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: £89,995 For more information call 0845 241 5557

    • Year: 1990

    Last update: About 1 Month Old
    For sale
  • Redline Engineering
    0845 241 5557
    see details
  • Genuine AC Cobra MK IV 427 5.0 Litre;;Rolls Royce Cobalt Blue Metallic ;Parchment Leather Upholstery;1988/F;14,000 Miles;'COB 44A' Private Plate Included in Sale;;5.0 Litre Ford 427 V8 Injection Engine;5 Speed Manual Gearbox;Mota Lita Wood Rim Steering and Gear Knob;Glass Wind Wings, ;Leather Sun Visors ;Black Halibrand Wheels with Gold Spinners ;Chrome Stone Guards ;Tonneau Cover;Indoor Fully Fitted Car Cover;Sports Exhaust;;This matching numbers AC Cobra, listed in the Shelby American World Registry features stunning blue paintwork, and is beautifully trimmed in parchment leather, First registered in 1988, this stunning cobalt blue AC Cobra has covered a 14,000 miles and is presented in superb condition.;;The dashboard has totally correct dials.The gauges are Tudor and include oil pressure, water temperature, amps, fuel level, speedometer and rev counter. There is also a discreet Sony stereo head unit mounted under dash. The Interior of these cars is wonderfully retro, simple and true to the feel of the 60's cars.;;5.0 litre V8 fuel injection car producing 280 bhp and with its aluminium body moves very quickly. The engine is cooled via thermostatically set Kenlowe fans which eliminate any horsepower loss. Transmission is the proven Borg-Warner (Tremec) T-5 five speed transmission.;;The Autokraft MK-IV Cobra features a tubular steel frame which reduces weight and improves the ride. Just one of the reasons the MK IV is the car to have is the great handling, making this a fabulous drivers car.;;The car offered for sale is in outstanding condition, comes with a fresh UK 12 months MOT and Fully Serviced. ;;Model History;-------------------;;The AC Cobra is without any doubt the most sought after classic super sportscar. This is the reason why so many replicas and kit cars took inspiration on this great AC Cobra model.;;The combination of a beautifully designed tubular chassis by Tojeiro, an ultra-light aluminium Italian barchetta style body and Carroll Shelbys genius idea to shoe-horn into the chassis the very strong and reliable Ford V8 small block engine was the initial recipe. From the original versions (MKI MKII and MKIII), built between 1962 and 1967, only approximately 1,000 were produced, but fetch today on the collectors car market astronomical prices, although ironically a failure in the sixties.;;After a short Frua bodied coupe episode, which wasnt very successfull, things led to the bankruptcy of AC in the late seventies. The companys tooling and eventually the right to use the name, were licensed by Autokraft, a Cobra parts specialist and replica car manufacturer owned by Brian A. Angliss. In agreement with Carroll Shelby, the last version MKIII car, of which only 327 were produced in the sixties, would appear again in 1982 with some modifications as the Autokraft MKIV, basically an AC MKIII car with a 5.0L V8 and a Borg Warner T5 Transmission.;- See more at: http://www.cameronprestige.co.uk/cars/ac/cobra/autokraftmkiv5.0litre/26008/#sthash.yA8GqL91.dpuf

    Last update: 10 Days Old

    • Mileage: 14000 mi

    • Engine size: 5

    For sale
  • Cameron Sports Cars
    01225 892244
    see details
  • 1966 AC COBRA – HAWK 289 FIA SERIES. Black with Black Hide. 351 CU Inch – 400 BHP. Alloy Heads, MSD Ignition, Top Loader Gearbox, Oil Cooler, Peg Drive Halibrand Wheels, Side Pipes, Roll Hoop.Harness`s, Fire Extinguisher, Race Mirrors, Tripod Headlights, Full Mohair Weather Equipment inc. Tonneau Cover & Side Screens. Built and set up by the renowned James Baxter, Race Engineer and Driver. Only 6,000 Miles since completion. Bills on file total in excess of £55,000. Simply Stunning with Blistering Performance.

    • Year: 1966

    Last update: About 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 6000 mi

    For sale
  • Sherwood Restorations
    01636 812655
    see details
  • 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 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 416 mi

    For sale
  • Amari Supercars
    01772 663 777
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  •   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: 3 Days Old
    For sale
  • Hexagon Classics
    see details
  • METALLIC BLUE, FULLY DETAILED HISTORY FILE, 6 SPEED GEAR BOX, POWER STEERING, HARD TOP ROOF, IMMOBILISER, BEIGE LEATHER SPORTS SEATS, WILLANS SEAT BELTS, TWO TONE WHEELS BLACK/CHROME, CHROME SURROUND INTERIOR DIALS, CHROME EXTERIOR MIRRORS, CHROME HEADLIGHT SURROUNDS, TWIN WHITE STRIPES COVERING FULL CAR INCLUDING INTERIOR DASH, CHROME ROLL BARS, CHROME FRONT AND REAR NUDGE BAR, STAINLESS STEEL SIDE EXHAUST SYSTEM, FULL LEATHER DASH, TAILORED CAR COVER (for both indoor and outdoor use), 2 SEATS, LOW RATE FINANCE AVAILABLE SUBJECT TO STATUS, PLEASE ASK FOR DETAILS 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. Must be a valid email address. Between 5 and 100 characters. Between 3 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: About 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 8000 mi

    For sale
  • Darren Allick
    01642 711666
    see details
  • 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: About 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 1489 mi

    For sale
  • Silverlink Cars
    0191 460 7204
    see details
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