AC Cobra to return next year with a new chassis, new look, and a hefty power hike from its V8 engine.
The hallowed AC Cobra will be radically reinvented from the ground up for 2023, some 61 years after launch, after a three-year, multi-million dollar development programme.
AC Cars, which holds the rights to the Cobra name and claims to be Britain’s oldest car manufacturer at 122 years old, has released a set of preview images for the reborn roadster ahead of a reveal in spring.
The new arrival is officially called the Cobra GT Roadster, and promises dramatic advances in performance, refinement and build quality courtesy of its newly developed architecture and a much more potent V8 engine than that used by the existing Chevrolet lump in the AC Cobra 378 Superblower MkIV.
AC Cars has yet to give full details of this powerplant, but says it will produce 488kW and 780Nm, which will be enough to send the sub-1500kg Roadster from 0-100km/h in around 3.6sec – nearly as quick as a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS. It can be paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic.
The powertrain is housed in a redesigned body shell, larger than that of the existing Cobra with a wheelbase of 2570mm, which looks to stay largely true to the overall silhouette and defining cues of the fabled 1960s sports car, but with fresh touches that bring it in line with modern rivals.
AC Cars says the new entry has been “meticulously engineered to be exceptional” featuring “cutting-edge material and manufacturing technologies” and will be highly customisable according to its owners’ tastes. Prices and availability have not been confirmed, but production will be limited and a substantial premium over the £130,000 (AUD$237,000) Superblower.
The lengthy and costly development programme for the new two-seater centred around the engineering of a new and bespoke aluminium spaceframe chassis, which was designed in Italy by Icona Design Group and Cecomp Spa. It promises “excellent torsional rigidity” and is said to combine “refinement with performance-orientated ride and handling” in keeping with the new car’s billing as a grand tourer.
To be built in AC Cars’ native England, It will also offer modern amenities including air con, electric windows, ‘sophisticated’ in-car entertainment and a removable hardtop.
The Cobra Roadster GT will be sold alongside the standard Cobra, which is almost visually indistinguishable from the original and is available with the choice of turbo four-pot, atmosphere V8 or pure-electric power.
It is the first new launch from the brand since it appointed Swiss financial backer David Conza as CEO in May 2022. Alan Lubinsky, who acquired the marque in 1996, continues to serve as chairman.