|One of the 221-cubic-inch V-8s was sent to England for mocking
up in the Ace chassis that would ultimately be tagged as #CSX2000. Contrary
to popular belief, the hybrid machine that would become the first Cobra actually
ran for the first time under its own power in England in late 1961, though
it's unclear exactly how much it was driven, while fitted with the 221. According
to the Shelby American World Registry, the car was driven at the MIRA test
track in England by AC chief Derek Hurlock, though Shelby didn't recall that
Evans told Shelby that development of a 260-cubic-inch version of the "Fairlane" V-8 was about completed; so that, of course, replaced any notion of g the smaller 221s. Though the garden-variety 260 V-8 was rated at 164 horsepower, a special performance version packing a four-barrel carb, solid lifters, a more aggressive carn, mild revisions to the heads, and a milder compression ratio yielded 250-260 horsepower. Thus the painting of "HXP-260-1" on the valve covers at the time. A standard Borg Warner T-10 four-speed transmission was used, and because of its long tailshaft, a driveshaft measuring but 10 inches long was all that was required.
CSX2000, its gleaming aluminum bodywork unpainted and once again engineless, was air freighted back to Los Angeles, after clearing customs in New York, in February 1962. Upon arrival, it was taken to hot rodder/racer Dean Moon's Santa Fe Springs, California, shop. Shelby had no facility at the time. Shelby and Moon's crew of mechanics and fabricators jumped all over it. Eight hours later, the Ford V-8 fired up, and CSX2000 rolled under its own power onto American tarmac.
It may have looked a lot like an Ace with a V-8 engine swap, but there was much more involved.
"We strengthened the chassis tubes, we had to put different spindles and hub carriers on it, we had to put a different rearend in it," recalls Shelby. "We changed those old buggy springs... there were very few nuts and bolts in that car that were the same nuts and bolts as in an AC Ace."
|The dash, fuel-filler location, bumpers, lights, seats, wheels, the shapes
of several body panels, and myriad other details would also be changed between
the way they were on CSX2000 and later, production Cobras. Somewhere early
on, the cast "AC" badging was removed, and the name "Shelby" was hand-lettered
onto the nose. Not long after CSX2000 was running (some say a few hours,
Shelby recalls it as a few days), Shelby invited friend and drinking buddy
Sports Car Graphic Editor John Christy over for a drive. Graphic was Petersen's
landmark sports car magazine at the time, and the free-spirited Christy would
later join the Motor Rend staff- Petersen/Cobra connection #2. He and Petersen
Photographic Director Bob D'Olivio took the car to Los Angeles' Griffith
Park for a photo shoot; that first article appeared in SCGs May' 62 issue.
And Christy was clearly taken with the Cobra.
"It's one of the most impressive production sports cars we've ever driven. Its acceleration...can only be described as explosive and at least equal to that of the better hot Corvettes and [Ferrari] Berlinettas we've driven.
"Christy was very kind to us," Shelby chuckles, retrospectively. two or three things broke the first few days he had it, but he loved it, because straightline, Jesus, it would blow anything off."