AC Cobra returns as all-electric or turbo-4 sports cars

The relaunch of the iconic roadster also marks the rebirth of British automaker AC Cars

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The AC Cobra Series 1 electric looks just like the original AC Ace | AC Cars photos

The AC Cobra has been reborn, according to AC Cars Ltd., still a performance icon but without the thunderous V8 engines that made the Shelby Cobras of the 1960s so distinctive. 

Instead, the 2020 AC Cobra range launched this week will get thoroughly modern drivetrains that reflect today’s technological advances and environmental awareness, the Norwich, England, automaker says. 

While the new Cobras retain the shapely AC Ace bodies that were transformed by Carroll Shelby into Cobras, they will be powered by a choice of either a fully electric powertrain or the turbocharged 2.3-liter turbocharged engine as used in the latest Ford Mustang.

AC Cars is offering a limited edition of just 58 examples of each model.  Handling and response will be comparable to traditional Cobra models, the company said in the news release, although with modern suspensions and other componentry for improved drivability and durability. The body will be constructed of high-grade composite and will have a traditional AC Cobra interior.

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The zero-emissions electric car, named the AC Cobra Series 1 electric, will provide sparkling acceleration and about 150 miles of driving range from its electric motor and battery pack. Zero to 60 sprints take just 6.7 seconds, according to the manufacturer. 

“The car will look identical to the first AC Cobra that was made in 1962 but sound totally different – the first electrically powered AC,” the company said in the release.

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The suggested retail price for the updated Cobra is £138,000 ($172,000).

The other model is called the AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition, similar in concept to the electric version but powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-4 that generates about 350 horsepower.

“This new model is a tremendous car for the times, being a light traditional sports car and having a light engine of such high power as to provide a very traditional feel and driving appeal,” AC said.

Pricing for the Charter Edition will be £85,000 ($106,000). 

Both the AC Cobra Series 1 electric and the 140 Charter Edition are expected to become available in the last quarter of 2020.

The new Cobras essentially mark the rebirth of the AC brand as well, the automaker being the longest surviving car brand in the United Kingdom, dating back to 1901.   

“Our long saga reflects the many challenges of making sports cars in low volumes in the modern world,” said Alan Lubinsky, chief executive of AC Cars. “But over the years, our belief in the brand has been sustained by the loyalty and support of AC Cobra owners worldwide.

“Their faith has given us the motivation to keep on striving to give AC a future – and with these superb new products, engineered not just for today but for tomorrow, I am convinced we have given AC a bright future.”

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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