Born-again AC Cobra gets subtle design tweaks, 654-hp supercharged V8

England-based AC Cars has kept its promise of unveiling a modern take on the emblematic Cobra. While it looks unmistakably like the original model, the new roadster features a handful of visual updates, an aluminum chassis and a V8 engine rated at 654 horsepower.

We know what you’re thinking: “isn’t that a Shelby?” The answer is both yes and no. Shelby popularized the Cobra and later made it an icon on and off the track but it didn’t create it. The roadster started life in England as the straight-six-powered AC Ace, which explains why the British firm can resurrect the basic design and proportions without summoning a dark cloud of disapproval from Shelby’s legal team.

Back to the road: called Cobra GT Roadster, the modern-day two-seater is entirely new in spite of its retro design. Computer-generated images published by the company suggest that the list of updates includes LED lights on both ends, modern-looking door mirrors, twin exhaust tips integrated into a diffuser, and bigger wheels. Most of the bright trim has been removed for a cleaner, more contemporary look.

AC Cars stuffed a Ford-sourced, 5.0-liter V8 between the bulged fenders. Related to the engine that powers the Mustang, among other models, it’s supercharged to develop 654 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, and it spins the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic. Hitting 62 mph from a stop takes around 3.4 seconds, and top speed checks in at 173 mph. AC notes that the Cobra GT weighs about 3,100 pounds thanks in part to an aluminum chassis developed specifically for the car.

Interior photos haven’t been released yet. We’re told that the driver will face an analog instrument cluster with a “Digital Glass” display, and that the cabin was designed with ergonomics in mind. This version of the Cobra should offer far more interior space than older models, and the list of standard equipment will include power-operated windows, a climate control system and an infotainment system with navigation.

AC Cars will fully unveil the Cobra GT Roadster in April 2023, and it will take the model on a European tour in the subsequent months. The first deliveries are scheduled for 2024, and pricing starts at £285,000 including tax, a figure which represents approximately $342,000 at the current conversion rate. As of this writing, there’s no word on whether the rebooted Cobra will compete against Shelby’s in the United States.

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