13 October 2003

AC Cars is once again set to team up with American racing and tuning legend Carroll Shelby, in a revival of the partnership that sired the seminal AC Cobra over 40 years ago.

In a statement due this week, AC – Britain’s oldest independent car manufacturer – announces that it and Shelby will work together on new models, brand and product development, burying a 25-year dispute over use of the Cobra name.

AC production has been wound down in the past two years: but on 15 November it will open a new factory in Malta, and by January hopes to be churning out the new composite-bodied AC Ace Classic.

Based on a 1955 chassis design, the cars will be built in Malta and shipped without engines to the US, where they will be sold through Shelby’s dealer network. ‘There could even be performance versions using the Shelby brand,’ AC Cars chairman Alan Lubinsky told Autocar.

The next new model to arrive will be the composite-bodied 289 CRS. The first prototype has been completed, and Lubinsky hopes to offer a luxurious spec with a roomier cockpit, power-steering and air conditioning.

But the deal isn’t just one way: Lubinsky admitted that it was a ‘real possibility’ that AC Cars could market Shelby Automobiles products in the UK.

Shelby’s Cobra range starts at just $40,000 (£24,000), which would give AC further ammunition against the so-called ‘fake snakes’ produced by the British replica industry.

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