Shelby Rolls Out the First AC Cobra

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At the New York Auto Show the veteran celebrates 50 years of car production.

Next year Carroll Shelby will celebrate his 90th birthday, and at this year's New York Auto Show Shelby celebrated its half century as a car producer, of sorts. In 1961 he built the first AC Cobra, based on the British sports car manufacturer AC's chassis and propelled by a Ford V8 engine. That model became a legend and an object of imitation; it also drove the mainstream American car industry into the sports car era, with models such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.

In his first creation Shelby, a competent racing driver before he became constructor, team owner and tuner, used a 221 cubic-inch eight-cylinder Ford engine before switching to a 260 CID engine and 260 hp. He improved the chassis and the suspension in order to efficiently handle the higher-than-expected loads. The car on display now at the New York Auto Show is not for sale, but if it was it would easily fetch many millions of dollars.

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