Acceleration: 0-60mph 3.3sec
The AC marque is now effectively split into its Heritage operation in Brooklands and new car production in partnership with Jürgen Mohr’s Gullwing Company. There was a brief sojourn in Malta, but what has been established near Dresden looks far more convincing – as are the cars it builds.
The MkVI represents a step in a very different direction for AC, and although the Thames Ditton evolutionary strand has now been broken it looks, feels and drives just as a modern interpretation of the Cobra should. Cobra traditionalists might not entirely approve of the use of a Chevrolet Corvette LS3 engine under the bonnet, but in terms of the way it performs and – most importantly – sounds, it’s completely on message.
But that’s no surprise, given that the MkVI is the culmination of Jürgen Mohr’s dream to build the perfect Cobra replica. His cars attracted a loyal following over the years, but Mohr knew that what they really needed to succeed was the correct badge, something they now have following the deal struck with AC’s owner, Alan Lubinsky.
In the company of all the other Cobras and ACs at Brooklands, the MkVI looks completely in its element. Placed in context with its progenitors, the new car comes across as very much the modern evolution.
That’s no bad thing, of course, because the combination of a deftly modified version of the 427’s dramatic styling and a good-sized helping of creature comforts makes this a very convincing follow-up to the AC MkIV.
And look how well that one sold…
The recent history of AC and Cobra
AC’s recent ownership history is a complex story with more ‘couldn’t make it up’ twists than you can shake a stick at. Until the 1970s it was a thriving business, too...
However, following the failure of the Thames Ditton and Glasgow-built mid-engined 3000ME in 1984, AC’s owner Derek Hurlock sold his holdings to marque enthusiast Brian Angliss in 1986.
Angliss had already made his name building the impressive Autokraft MkIV, and following the acquisition of AC (in a joint venture with Ford) he rebranded his MkIV as an AC. It was an enduring success.
However, ongoing development of the AC Ace, as well as a legal battle with Ford, meant the business haemorrhaged cash and finally resulted in the administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers being called in to find a new buyer.
Alan Lubinsky’s Pride Automotive company purchased AC assets for £5m in 1996 and continued production. Despite a raft of new models, the venture ran into trouble, with Superformance boss Jimmy Price stepping in to take over AC production at Frimley in the UK in 2003.
In 2005 Lubinsky announced that he had joined forces with Carroll Shelby to sell the Maltese-built Shelby AC Cobra in the States. Lubinsky resumed FIA and 427 Continuation car production for Shelby, but after about ten had been built the venture ran out of money and the factory closed.
The business reopened in a Scout hut near Guildford shortly afterwards, but after six months it too was closed – with UK AC aluminium series car production ending for good. Lubinsky set up Maltese-based AC Motor Holdings Ltd, with the intention of building cars there as well as supplying bodies to meet American demand. The Maltese operation produced a handful of MkVs between 2005 and 2008 before closing.
The AC badge has since reappeared on the MkVI in Eastern Germany earlier this year, in partnership with Mohr Innovations.
The ownership of the Cobra name has resided with Carroll Shelby since 2000, when Ford’s hold on it lapsed. He continues to sell his CSX4000 series car, built by Shelby Automobiles.