This is a 2001 AC Cobra Mk IV, it was bought new by former Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill. It’s one of the rarer “Carbon Road Series” cars with a full carbon-fibre body and it’s powered by a 5.0 liter Ford V8 mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The AC Cobra is the AC Cars version of the more famous Shelby Cobra, a vehicle that was developed by Carroll Shelby by taking an AC Ace and adding a Ford V8 – creating one of the most potent sports cars of the mid-1960s.
Fast Facts – The AC Cobra Mk IV
- AC Cars was founded in 1901 as Auto Carriers Ltd by John Portwine and John Weller, and the company initially produced the popular “Autocarrier” business tricar. The company later released a number of four-wheeled models, the most famous of which would be the AC Ace which debuted in 1953.
- As the name suggests the AC Cobra Mk IV was the fourth major iteration of the Cobra design. It was developed by Brian Angliss and his team at Autokraft who had built up a business restoring Cobras, supplying parts, and offering replicas.
- The quality of Angliss’ work was so highly regarded that the Hurlock family sold him the AC trademark rights in 1986, allowing him to officially restart production of AC Cars including the AC Cobra.
- The AC Cobra Mk IV you see here is a 2001 model, it’s one of the 37 CRS models built, or “Carbon Road Series,” with full carbon fiber bodies. It was bought new by F1 World Champion Damon Hill and it’s now being offered for sale by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
AC Cars: A History Speedrun
AC Cars is a British automobile manufacturer with a history that dates back to 1901. The company has had its fair share of ups and downs, but it gained global recognition thanks to its AC Ace model, which would take a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 and later became the foundation for the legendary Shelby Cobra.
AC was originally established as Auto Carriers Ltd. by John Weller and John Portwine in Thames Ditton, Surrey, England. The company started by producing three-wheeled delivery vehicles and passenger cars. In 1911, the company underwent a name change and became known as AC Cars Ltd.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, AC Cars manufactured a range of automobiles, including sports cars and tourers. However, it wasn’t until the post-World War II era that the company gained substantial attention for its sports cars.
In 1953, AC Cars introduced the AC Ace, a two-seat sports car powered by a six-cylinder engine. The Ace featured a lightweight tubular chassis and a sleek, aerodynamic body. Its performance and handling were well-regarded, and it quickly gained a reputation as a competitive sports car in its class.
In the early 1960s, Carroll Shelby, an American racing driver and later an entrepreneur, was in search of a suitable chassis for his project to create a high-performance sports car to rival the Corvette. He approached AC Cars with the idea of fitting an American V8 into the AC Ace. The collaboration between Carroll Shelby and AC Cars resulted in the creation of one the most memorable sports cars of all time—the Shelby Cobra.
The AC Ace chassis proved to be surprisingly good platform for the V8. The original Shelby Cobra, known as the Cobra 260, made its debut in 1962. It featured a 4.3 liter Ford V8 engine and thanks to its low curb weight it was one of the fastest American sports cars money could buy at the time.
In 1963, the Shelby Cobra 289 was introduced, powered by the same 4.7 liter V8 engine at the Ford Mustang. The combination of lightweight construction and potent performance made the Cobra 289 a force to be reckoned with on both road and track. Its success in racing, including the famous Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe’s victories at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, further elevated the Cobra’s global reputation.
Shelby ceased production of the Cobra in 1967 but this was far from the end for the model. AC Cars themselves have since released their own version of the car called the AC Cobra (sans Shelby) and Shelby have released their own official continuation versions which remain in production to the current day.
The AC Cobra Mk IV
In 1982 a company named Autokraft developed and released the Cobra Mk IV, at the time they didn’t own the rights to the AC brand and so the car was released as the Autokraft Cobra Mk IV.
Autokraft had been founded by Brian Angliss to restore Cobras, supply model-specific parts, and offer replicas in both kit and turnkey form. The quality of the parts and cars being built by Angliss and his team was said to be very good – so good in fact that it caught the attention of the Hurlock family, who sold him the AC trademark rights in 1986.
This meant that from 1986 onwards, Autokraft cars officially carried AC branding, and the undesirable “replica” word was banished to the company’s history. The Cobra Mk IV then became the AC Cobra Mk IV and Angliss was able to bring Ford onboard to supply engines and many other parts, making the company a joint venture.
The Cobra Mk IV has a tubular steel frame fitted with rack and pinion steering, and double A-arms front and back with coil springs offering four wheel independent suspension. Hefty AP Racing disc brakes are fitted front and back, and the CRS or “Carbon Road Series” model had a full carbon fiber body.
Power was provided by a 5.0 liter Ford V8, fundamentally the same engine used in the Mustang of the time, offering 225 bhp at 4,200 rpm. Thanks to the low 1050 kg / 2315 lbs curb weight of the car the power to weight ratio was 214 bhp per ton.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via the ever reliable Tremec 5-speed gearbox and a Hydratrak limited-slip differential. Just 37 CRS models were ever built and they seem to only rarely come up for sale.
The Ex-Damon Hill AC Cobra Mk IV Shown Here
As you will have read in the introduction this AC Cobra Mk IV CRS is a 2001 model that was first bought by Damon Hill – the British Formula One driver who became World Champion in 1996.
It’s the 34th of the 37 Carbon Road Series cars that were made and it now has just 15,358 miles recorded on the odometer. The car has been in its present ownership since 2007 and it carries a current MoT valid until May of next year along with its UK V5C registration document.
If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bonhams. It’s due to be auctioned on the 14th of July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with a price guide of £80,000 – £100,000 or approximately $101,000 – $126,000 USD.
Images courtesy of Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.