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Tuesday, 05 July 2022
ONE memorable moment in a life of admiring British-built sports cars was spotting in Kensington years ago an AC Cobra in all its macho glory.
The driver on that particular day looked like Oddjob, the fiendish bowler hat-throwing villain from the 1964 James Bond movie, Goldfinger, his bullet-shaped head framed by the Cobra’s anti-roll bar.
Purists might argue that the driver of the Cobra on that day probably would have choked at the news that the AC Cobra has gone electric.
The first AC Cobra Series 1 electric is undergoing final development ahead of delivery to customers.
To anyone who has loved the sheer guts and power demonstrated by the original AC Cobra sports car, it seems like a contradiction in terms.
But this faithful recreation of the AC Cobra, only with a modern, emissions-free electric powertrain, is the start of the next chapter for the famous British marque.
Looking and performing like the original Cobra unveiled nearly 60 years ago, the new car combines the appeal of the brand’s heritage with a specifically designed fully electric powertrain plus modern ride and handling.
AC Cars, originally incorporated as Auto Carriers Ltd, is one of the oldest independent car makers founded in Britain. As a result of bad financial conditions over the years, the company was renamed or liquidated many times until taking its present form.
The first car from what eventually became AC was presented at the London Motor Show at Crystal Palace in 1903.
It was a 20 horsepower touring car and was displayed under the Weller name. The Weller brothers of West Norwood, London, planned to produce an advanced 20hp (15kW) car.
Jump forward over a chequered history to 2010, when AC announced a joint venture with the US-based company Iconic, which resulted in the design of the ultimate Cobra — the Iconic AC Roadster.
Coming right up to date in 2020, AC Cars announced that they will be building a zero-emission version of the Cobra called the Series 1 electric.
A total of 58 of the electric sports cars will be built alongside a 2.3-litre petrol version called the AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition.
The Cobra that so quickly fired my imagination was a very different animal and was equipped with either a 4.3- or 4.7-litre petrol engine, giving the car enormous power. Together with its “macho” design, the car was — and still is — the sports car dreams are made of. For this leap into a 21st century-style of new cars, which includes the AC Cobra Series 4 electric recently announced, the launch of the Series 1 electric is a milestone for a company whose heritage stretches back years.
Working with Derby-based technical partner Falcon Electric, the Norfolk based carmaker says it is ensuring that the implementation of EV technology into the famous car is in keeping with the personality and performance that has made AC’s original design one of the most imitated manufacturers of all time.
Alan Lubinsky, the chief executive of AC Cars for more than two decades, said: “I’m so proud of the team behind this project, and the hours that have been invested in making this car so special. This is British engineering and technology at its finest, upholding AC Cars’ approach to producing only the finest hand-built sports cars.”
Although its production has been delayed by supply chain issues, the engineering team behind the electric car have been able to revisit some of the car’s core principles.
As a result, it has selected enhanced and higher performing parts which mean the car will exceed original estimates.
Weight, acceleration and handing have all been honed to ensure the car is worthy of carrying the Cobra name.
With an unmistakable profile and a reputation for extreme performance, the AC Cobra’s story is the stuff of legend.
Working with the AC Ace, the AC Cobra changed sports cars forever in 1962 by fitting Ford’s small block V8 into the two-seater and creating an automotive titan. The shift from petrol engines to electric motors almost 60 years later will allow the famous British name to sell these desirable high-performance cars that are fit for an increasingly green future.
With a 0-62mph time of around four seconds, the Series 1 electric packs a punch akin to the early cars but with the near-instant torque (pulling power) EVs are known for.
However, the near 150 zero-emission mile range between charges will underline that this is undeniably an altogether different animal.
The 58 examples of the AC Cobra Series 1 electric cars celebrate the anniversary of the production of the first AC Cobra.
With a suggested retail price of £138,000, plus on the road charges, it will be available in four unique AC Cars colours: electric blue, electric black, electric white and electric green.