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AC snake strikes back with 596kW

2009-08-18 08:56

The AC Cobra always had an awful lot of oddly discounted American heritage. Now Iconic motors will assemble the AC Roadster in Detroit, Michigan.

After years of notoriety under the stewardship of South African, Alan Lubinsky, AC Cobra is back to iconic status thanks to some American imagination and German engineering discipline.

Although the famed AC brand has been building cars since 1901, it is best known for the AC Cobra, an amalgamation of British sportscar finesse and storming American V8 power.

With imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, AC looked on as replica builders across the globe became quite wealthy pandering to enthusiasts’ whims of Cobra ownership, at a fraction of contemporary prices.

Local connection - not good

Embarrassingly, the company has been practically mismanaged into near receivership by South African, Alan Lubinsky, who acquired the AC Cobra naming rights in 1996.

There is the abandoned AC Cobra factory in Malta (not to mention the string of bad debts Lubinsky left on the Mediterranean Island when he fled it last year) and an unfulfilled promise (tainted by criminal investigation) to build AC Cobras in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

German Gullwing replica builder, Juergen Mohr, always believed he built the best Cobras in the world. Now he has the badge to finally authenticate his claims.

Finally though, it appears a touch of dignity has been conferred upon the legendary AC Cobra brand.

Earlier this year German master Gullwing replica builder, Juergen Mohr, announced he was partnering with Lubinsky (who owns the rights to badge) to produce a new range of stunningly advanced, yet faithfully authentic, AC Cobras.

The factory, ironically located in Heyda, near Dresden in the former East Germany, possesses composite body technology which enables classic aluminium Cobra surfacing with modern touches – like a hardtop.

AC Cobra’s MkVI car features a triangulated, spaceframe chassis, four-pot callipers actuating Porsche ventilated discs brakes at all four wheel corners, race logic traction control via a variable lock rear differential, and of course, American V8 power.

After nearly a decade and a half of brand tarnishing, the AC Cobra brand appears to have finally found a caring home this year. In Germany, of all places.

Traditional looks, modern convenience

GM is the engine supplier of choice, with stock and high-output Corvette LS3 6.2l V8 on offer, in either 326kW GT or 482kW GTS trim.

With the GTS only weighing 1 025kg, performance is unsurprisingly epic – Mohr claims 3.3 second 0-100km/h times should be achievable on high quality, traction aiding surfaces.

Comfort and convenience features (hardly ever an option on AC Cobras) are impressively contemporary in nature thanks to Mohr’s engineering discipline and understanding of customer expectations.

As previously mentioned, the Cobra MkVI features an optional hardtop, whilst a few added millimetres between the front and rear axles improves legroom appreciably.

Flow efficiency is vastly improved thanks to a new ventilation system (it actually demists the front windscreen now – allegedly) and seat heaters should be a welcome boon for those early morning Sunday breakfast runs.

Although the 6.2l V8 beat should be enough to satisfy any driver, a retro-styled Becker Mexico infotainment system provides full suite acoustic capability and Bluetooth integration with SatNav.

If you live Stateside though, things get even better...

America's Iconic Motors interpretation of modern AC Cobra values. Has official blessing of new German joint venture AC Cobra manufacturer too - so authentic badge is on the nose.

The real Icon?

If the idea of an authentically badged, German engineered AC Cobra with 482kW on offer is a little too tame for you, American aftermarket engineering concern, Iconic motors, has an absolutely mental solution on offer.

Iconic motors boss, former IT specialist Claudio Ballard, says his company will only build 100 units of the Iconic AC Roadster, which carries full joint venture blessing from across the Atlantic in German.

Technical specifications are deeply impressive.

An advanced carbon-fibre tub chassis has double wishbone coil-over suspension at each wheel corner, featuring fully adjustable Penske dampers. 

Stainless steel side pipes are 127mm in diameter and feature internalised aerogel thermal insulating technology, designed to keep pipe surfaces cool enough to touch, even after a quick blast around the block.

Powering the Iconic AC Roadster is a 6.8l naturally aspirated V8, which although featuring all-aluminium construction, makes due with pushrod valve gear.

It’s worth 596kW at 7 600r/min though (a pretty heady engine speed for a large capacity V8) and rotates with 895Nm worth of force at 5 800r/min.

Featuring 325/30 runflat tyres rotating on 19-inch mags at the rear axle, Ballard claims his Iconic Roadster, aided by a Torsen limited slip differential, eclipses the 100km/h mark from standstill in only 2.8 seconds.

Power is delivered to the rear differential via a custom built six-speed manual transmission turning helical cut gears for optimal smoothness.

Top speed is 337km/h, with an open topped cabin none the less…

Happy ending?

It seems AC Cobra finally has the engineering commitment and management vision to put the tumultuous last decade and a half behind it.

With Lubinsky still in the picture - to an extent - we must admit doubt lingers, things have seemed this rosy before, only to fall apart rather spectacularly.

For the time being though, the AC Cobra name appears to have been salvaged.

Thanks, ironically, to German entrepreneurship, and with scant regard to Alan Lubinsky and his obtuse attempts to commodify the brand...


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