1966 Shelby 427 Cobra Review

Jun 7, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

The Shelby Cobras are also sometimes known as Shelby ACs or Shelby AC Cobras. They combined American engineering and British racing aesthetic and are now one of the most popular sports cars from the 1960s. These models were known for their powerful Ford V8 engines. They were made in the United States and the United Kingdom intermittently starting in 1962, and the limited production ended in 1967, and the 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra is the most popular version of this racing legend.

History


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The Shelby Cobra was manufactured by AC Cars, a venerable automaker in the United Kingdom known for its bespoke sports cars. But the engine used on similar models before the introduction of the Shelby Cobra was a design from BMW dating back to before World War II. Because of this, AC cars decided an update was necessary for the new vehicles. Fortuitously, automotive engineer and racecar driver Carroll Shelby wanted to put a V8 in a modified two-seat roadster. Shelby reached out to Chevrolet, but the automaker was unwilling to accept competition. However, Ford was willing to work with AC Cars since it was looking forward to creating a competitor for the Corvette. At first, AC Cars installed a 260-cubic inch (4.3-liter) V8 engine from Ford and the majority of the early models had a 289-cubic inch engine (4.7 liters). Early models were difficult to drive and in 1965 the Cobra was redesigned and received the 427-cubic inch (7-liter) engine. As the name implies, the 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra runs on this 427 ci engine.

The Engine


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The engine in the Shelby 427 Cobra was the famed NASCAR “Side-Oiler” V8. The weakest version of this engine had a street rating of 425 bhp (317 kW). The standard models can reach 164 miles per hour while competition versions can reach 185 mph thanks to their 485 bhp (the equivalent of 362 kW). When this power is combined with the fact that the Shelby Cobra weighed 500 pounds less than the Corvette, it truly gave the other model a run for its money. Even by today’s standards, the 1966 Shelby Cobra is among the fastest sports cars in history. In fact, it could get from 0 to 60 in around 4.5 seconds and finish a quarter mile in just 12 seconds. The Cobra 427 S/C even went from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 in just 13.2 seconds setting a record that wasn’t broken until 1991.

Appearance


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In addition to the historic and powerful engine, collectors love the 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra for its elegant appearance. The sports car is curvy with large fenders and huge side pipes that are almost reminiscent of bookends. The interior of the Cobra fit right in with other British sports cars thanks to the low bucket seats, wooden wheel, and plain round gauges. The collaboration between AC Cars, Ford, and Shelby combined top-notch engineering with a graceful roadster and created an unbeatable sports car.

At the time, AC Cobra was a financial failure and only 55 Shelby 427 Cobras were built. The remaining cars can be extremely expensive. While you may be able to find a Shelby 427 Cobra, you will have to search very hard to find a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra S/C, the semi-competitive version. This is because it had very limited production, making it a prize among car collectors.

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