Few examples of the 453 '289' Shelby-AC Cobras built by AC Cars during 1963 and 1964 have such detailed records as COB 6008, whose first owner, Bruce Ropner, can provide information dating back to the day he collected it from the factory. His new sports car proved effective on both road and track, back in the days when it was normal to drive to the race and home afterwards.
COB 6008 is acknowledged as being one of only three right-hand drive Independent Competition cars built with flared rear wheel arches to allow for wider race tyres and cut-back 'FIA' doors where the trailing edge of the door followed the curve of the wheel arch. The bodywork was made from thinner gauge aluminium and they used the new Halibrand alloy wheels. Uniquely, Bruce Ropner requested that his Cobra should replicate the 'single-seat' cockpit of the D-type, with a windscreen that could be easily replaced by a small aeroscreen and the passenger area enclosed under an aluminium 'tonneau'. Bruce clearly remembers the day he collected it from the Thames Ditton factory. It was immediately sent to the ex-Ecurie Ecosse mechanic, Wilkie Wilkinson, who was working for BRM in Bourne. He added wider BRM alloy wheels, installed Weber carburettors and larger brakes. Wilkie also hand cut two rows of louvres along the length of the bonnet to aid cooling.
To underline the performance potential of the AC Cobra, Bruce recalls the time he left London at 3.15 a.m. one summer morning and set his stopwatch as he left Hyde Park Corner, heading to the A1 for the 220 mile drive north. His elapsed time for the journey was 2 hours 18 minutes, in a time when the whole length of the A1 was single carriageway.
Bruce Ropner raced the Cobra extensively during 1964, sharing the car with Keith Schellenberg at such events as the Capston 4-Hour relay races at Croft. At one of the first race meetings at Croft, the Daily Mirror Trophy was held. Celebrity driver Jacks Sears was entered, driving his usual Willment Team Cobra, but when the car was started, it was found to have a broken rocker and damaged pushrod. This meant that Sears could not take part in practice so Ropner offered his Cobra to allow Sears to qualify, despite such a move contravening the rules. The stewards could not be deceived since the cars were a different colour, as the Clerk of the Course confirmed, but when subjected to Ropner's persuasive techniques, he decided he 'was colour blind'. Sears practiced in 6008. Sears went on to win the race in his repaired Willment Cobra.
COB 6008 famously won the very first drag race held in the UK. Paired against the American driver Dante Deuce in a Shelby American works team Cobra, Deuce was faster off the line but a missed gear change saw Ropner catch and pass him before the finish. This led to Ropner taking greater interest in drag racing and he then sold his Cobra to Keith Schellenberg.
Schellenberg continued to campaign COB6008 during 1965 in events at Croft. Late in 1965 the car was shipped to Africa and on November 28th, the car was entered in the VIII Grande Premio de Angola, a major International sports car race held around the streets of the African port of Luanda in the Portuguese colony of Angola. Entered against opposition such as the Ferrari of David Piper and the 7-litre Ford France Cobra of Jo Schlesser, Schellenberg brought his new car home in a respectable 12th place behind a plethora of Ferraris and Porsches after a grueling race.
Following furthermore races and now registered 131 YHN, in 1966 COB 6008 was retired from racing and put into storage for some years. It finally changed hands again in 1984 when car dealer Brian Classic acquired it. Shortly afterwards it passed to Michael Fisher who carried out some restoration work and painted it Viking Blue.
Subsequently the car passed through a number of owners (including David Cottingham of DK Engineering) before being purchased by the current owner in 2003. No sooner had he purchased the Cobra it was back on track and raced at the Macau Grand Prix.
Since 2003 COB6008 has competed in the most prestigious events at circuits such as Goodwood, Silverstone and Le Mans where notable drivers such as Jack Sears, Jackie Oliver, Dan Gurney, Gerry Marshall, Derek Bell, Sir John Whitmore, Stefan Johansson and Richard Attwood shared driving duties. COB6008 has also been entered in smaller club events such as the annual AC Owners Club Goodwood Sprint, where in 2005, 2007 and 2011 the owner recorded the fastest lap of the day.
The car has featured in numerous magazine articles including Octane and Classic & Sportscar.
Eventually the ravages of time began to show and in 2009 it was decided to carry out a full restoration, retaining as much of the original car as possible, including the chassis and body panels. Thus the long, arduous process began and it was decided to repaint the Cobra to the same specification as the day that Jack Sears drove it at Croft in 1964. As soon as the restoration was complete, it took part in the 2011 Le Mans Legends race and a few weeks later was displayed at the prestigious Salon Privé event in London. In September 2011 the car was invited to and took part in the Goodwood Revival Tourist Trophy race.
Few cars have the ability to be suitable for both fast road use and competitive race use whilst being what is probably the most iconic car in existence; a Cobra. COB6008 must be one of the finest and most famous privateer Cobras and is now reluctantly offered for sale. It is a true rarity to find an example with such fabulous period history that is so wonderfully original including its original chassis and bodywork. An extensive history file (x5!) accompanies the car validating its genuine position amongst the greatest and most unmolested yet eligible and competitive Cobras in existence.
COB6008 is race ready, fresh from its recent comprehensive restoration and is consistently both eligible for and invited to the world's most famous events. For 2012 the car has already been invited to this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Cholmondley Pageant of Power, so the new owner can enjoy these events and will almost certainly be invited to this year's Goodwood Revival too, COB6008 has competed at the World's most famous historic race the Goodwood Revival TT a staggering 9 times.
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