Embattled British company AC Cars has resumed assembly operations in Surrey after clinching a deal to build replicas of the original ‘Sixties Shelby-inspired AC Cobra 427 for the US market.

Embattled British company AC Cars has resumed assembly operations in Surrey after clinching a deal to build replicas of the original ‘Sixties Shelby-inspired AC Cobra 427 for the US market.


The long-term agreement with Shelby Automobiles calls for the annual delivery of around 50 aluminium body shells mounted on traditional steel chassis for sale through Shelby’s network of more than 20 dealers. The Shelby AC Cobras will be completed at Shelby’s Las Vegas plant and hit the market from mid-2004.


A strategic alliance was forged between AC Motor Holdings, which is chaired by South African Alan Lubinsky, and Carroll Shelby International. The Surrey operation was closed down by its then operator Private Corporation Ltd in early October (Private Corporation had operated the plant since August 2002).


Lubinsky said: “We are delighted to once again bring together the activities of Shelby and AC – two names which are inextricably bound by their joint histories but which, for far too long, have operated as rivals.


“The car which we are partially building in the UK is a faithful recreation of the original 427 model and we think it will become an instant hit with North American buyers,” he said.


Lubinsky added that AC Cars Manufacturing, another subsidiary of AC Motor Holdings, recently concluded an agreement with the Malta Development Corporation for the commissioning of a dedicated plant on the island of Malta. Due to open early in 2004, it will produce a new range of cars for sale in the USA, UK, Japan, Australia and ultimately other European countries.


The first product will be a new version of the AC Ace, the car which was originally launched in 1955, featuring a composite body and Shelby-sourced powertrain. Lubinsky said that other models, including the AC Mamba coupé, would follow in due course.