Before you start sweating nervously, we have to say that this Shelby Cobra EV is not a real Shelby 427 converted to an EV, but this car already started out as a Shelby clone. Ok, that is all said and done; we shall continue.
In recent years, converting vintage vehicles—even rare ones—to electric vehicles has become more common than ever. As electric crate motors are becoming more widely available every day, kit vehicles and retro replicas are also affected.
The Shelby Cobra, one of the most recognizable and frequently imitated vintage sports cars cannot be missed. In addition to UK manufacturer AC switching to electricity; the US manufacturer Superformance is also testing out its own EV-powered snake. Judging by appearances, this charged-up Cobra has a lot of bite.
In its low-volume production, including the AC Ace two-seater roadster, AC Cars had been using the Bristol straight-6 engine, like many British manufacturers. This has a hand-built body with an English wheeling machine-made aluminum body and a steel tube frame. The engine was a pre-World War II BMW design that was deemed outdated by the 1960s. Bristol made the decision to stop producing its engine in 1961.
Texan chicken breeder
The AC Cobra is the result when you lend a neat British sports car to a Texan chicken breeder who had managed to write Le Mans to his name.
Carroll Shelby was his name and he managed to transform the British AC Ace into a brutal American four-wheeler with the help of a Ford V8 with a capacity of first 4.2-litre and later 4.7-litre.
That wasn’t all, by the way, because in Cobra trim, the Cobra also got a stiffer chassis and disc brakes all around. Initially, the car still looked rather well-behaved, but the further the model evolved, the wider and bolder its appearance became.
And so did the power. It started with 75 hp in the original AC Ace; the first Cobra already had 264. Later, it became 300; the ‘427’ even had 425 thanks to its seven-liter V8. That car, which made its debut in 1965, did not have much to do with AC’s original progenitor, by the way. The tubular chassis was completely new; the leaf springs had given way to coil springs, and from now on the car was no longer called ‘AC Cobra’, but had to make do with the Cobra designation only. Apart from being a street car, the Cobra 427 was frequently used in motorsport, with a flying start, because as early as 1965, this car won the world GT championship.
In no time, Cobras became a thorn in the side of the likes of Enzo Ferrari, whose racing cars were regularly beaten by them. Production numbers remained relatively low. Of the original ‘260’, 75 were made; of the ‘289’ 571, and of the ‘427’ 306. There was also an intermediate model; the ‘289 Sports’ which looked like a ‘427’ but came with only a 4.7-litre V8. Of these, 27 were built in 1969. Since then, many times as many replicas exist as original Cobras. Dozens of manufacturers have pounced on the model; not least Carroll Shelby himself. You can still knock on his door for a brand-new Cobra.
Back to the future
So, let’s go back to the future towards Superperfomance’s Cobra MKIII EV. The MKIII is code for the California-based company’s officially-licensed Shelby Cobra 427 replica. And though buyers can install other engines in their kit cars, the most common powerplant is, naturally, a 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Ford V8. While the original 427 wasn’t quite as powerful as period figures suggested, modern crate versions can genuinely crack the 400-hp barrier.
The electric Superformance MKIII-E would appear to be a less dangerous Cobra. It doesn’t, after all, have a blaring V8 under the hood. It does, however, have a Tesla Model S P100D motor mounted over its rear axle, which is just as effective.
According to MotorTrend, the motor in the Model S produces 503 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. Superformance is still fine-tuning the MKIII-E as of this writing, so exact horsepower and torque numbers aren’t available. The EV Engine is rated at 405 horsepower by MT, although Motor1 asserts that it can reach 650 horsepower. This electric Cobra replica would be more potent than the Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake if the latter number is accurate. However, the wheel torque claimed to be 1500 lb-ft, not the motor.
In the end, the gas-powered Shelby Cobra has less power than the Superformance MKIII-E. Even with a lithium-ion battery pack with a 32 kWh (31.2 kWh useful capacity) under the hood, the electric Cobra weighs 100 pounds less than a typical MKIII. It also has street-legal drag tires made by Nitto, the NT555R. Furthermore, it boasts power-assisted Wilwood disc brakes on all four wheels and a specially tuned version of the normal completely independent coil-over suspension.
The Superformance MKIII-E is identical to the company’s other Cobra reproductions except for the unique electric powerplant. There are no windows, airbags, traction control, stability control, or ABS. Even the optional roll hoops are absent from the prototype automobile. That is some scary and raw stuff.
Although it has a mechanical handbrake, the single-speed automatic transmission lacks a real “park” mode and hill-holding assistance. The wooden-rimmed steering wheel is also devoid of power assistance. According to Car and Driver, the MKIII-E isn’t a “typical” EV…
We’ll need to save money because this kit automobile isn’t inexpensive, however, you have some time. A standard 427 MKIII costs about $110K once the price of the engine, paint and other parts are added, according to MotorTrend. But the MKIII-E will probably set you back about $180,000. In comparison to a genuine original Cobra, that makes it inexpensive, but there are other cheaper kit options.
Are you up for this Shelby Cobra EV challenge, or would you like it just a bit more crazy?
Sources: https://www.motorbiscuit.com & https://www.caranddriver.com & https://www.motortrend.com/