There are times when you'd leave it parked, but also times when simply nothing else will do

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To say we quite liked this car when we first drove it in 2004 would be the understatement of the ensuing six years.

There was something utterly thrilling about what was then called the Superformance Le Mans Coupé – a recreation of the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupé that won the world sportscar championship 45 years ago.

It remains an addictive, seductive car that’s too uncompromising to suit everyone

Since 2004, a few things have changed. The car’s maker is still Superformance (in South Africa) but Carroll Shelby’s name has been added – fitting because its designer (Pete Brock), chassis engineer and test driver were the same guys who developed the Shelby Daytona in the 1960s.

See the test pics of the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe MKII

The chassis has also been mildly stiffened now, suspension geometry tweaked and the anti-roll bars adjusted to reduce road noise. Most significant, though, is that – although you can have a Ford V8 – this car is fitted with a 6.2-litre Corvette motor.

Sacrilege? Perhaps not; apparently Brock has a 7.0-litre GM V8 in his car. What it does mean is that the Daytona meets emissions regulations.

Changes to the interior are minimal. Adjustment to the seats has freed up more room, but it’s still a heady cabin that smells of oil and fuel and all things classically motorsport.

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It feels every bit as authentic as you’d hope, and so does the driving experience. The long-throw yet precise gearshift and the pedals respond best to positive, precise inputs. However, the steering is too light.

It’s linear, precise and responsive, yes, but lacking in the reassurance necessary for a car of this capability. A valve to reduce the assistance is in the post.

Just as well, because the new Daytona is easily as quick as a Porsche 911 Turbo. The powerband is broad and leggy gearing means you could happily live without fifth and sixth. I have no doubt it will reach 200mph.

The ride is old-fashioned firm (rarely crashy) and the Daytona’s responses are sharp. There is a stack of grip but so much torque that it will slide at will. It lets go quickly but is adjustable and catchable.

In many ways it is a 40-year-old car, not just a replica of one. There are times when you’d leave it parked, but also times when simply nothing else on the planet would do.

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe Mark II

Price £103,400; Engine V8, 6162cc, petrol; Power 480bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 475b ft at 4800rpm; 0-62mph 3.9sec; Top speed 200mph-plus; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Economy NA; CO2 NA

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.