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Icons: AC Cobra

10 months ago

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Writer:

Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder

Date:

3 May 2023

Carroll Shelby’s motivation for putting an American engine in a British chassis was precisely the same as Henry Ford Jr’s: to stuff Ferrari. As you know, Ford loathed Enzo Ferrari because of a perceived (and very real) slight in what turned out to be an abortive attempt by Ford to buy Ferrari.

Ol’ Shel’s motives were more personal, for he blamed the Commendatore for the death of his friend Luigi Musso. No surprise, that when the two vengeful Americans pooled their resources, Ford did indeed hit Ferrari where it hurt: and we’ve all seen Le Mans ’66 so there’s no need to dwell further upon it.

But Shelby’s desire to hurt Ferrari dates back way further than that, to the 1958 French Grand Prix at Reims no less where Musso crashed to his death, pressured, so far as Shelby saw it, to drive beyond his limits by Enzo himself. He reckoned that a Ford V8 engine installed in the right chassis would have the ideal combination of power, handling and lightness to put one over those V12 Ferraris that were cleaning up the GT category in almost every major sports car race on earth. So he approached AC Cars, the Cobra was born and the rest is history. Right?

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