With the departure of Brian Angliss from AC and a change in the company structure under new management, Ford took the opportunity to rescind the company’s rights to the Cobra name. That was not the setback it might have been, as it presented AC with the opportunity to come up with some interesting new name and model variations in order to fill that Cobra-sized hole.
When it was launched in 1997, the AC Superblower seemed very much like a good idea. Its design brief was simple: to retain the best parts of the MkIV, while improving on its weakest areas. So, in order to make it go like a proper ‘Cobra’ should, a Ford Motorsports supercharger was fitted, raising the power of the 302ci to an optimistically claimed 350bhp.
The interior and trim were also heavily revised, including the addition of a central binnacle stacked with dials. Sadly, the new car failed to capture the hearts of potential new customers, while existing Cobra fans found the Superblower a little too civilised and an acquired taste.
During its four-year production run 22 were built, and when the final car was finished at Frimley it ended up being AC’s last aluminium-bodied series production car in the UK.
Superblower owner Peter de Rousset-Hall commissioned his car (above, at the rear) to be built as the ultimate ’60s-looking example, including a MkIII dashboard. Sporting its fat white stripes and treating everyone present to a dose of supercharger whine, it’s certainly full of the original car’s spirit. ‘My two daughters are already fighting over which one will inherit it,’ Peter laughs.
By the turn of the millennium, it was clear that in the face of strong opposition from the likes of TVR – as well as the replica manufacturers – the Superblower was too expensive. A cheaper AC was created in response.
The CRS, or Carbon Road Series, was a clever car. It sported a carbonfibre body (weighing a mere 22kg) that was far less labour-intensive to produce, and the price was a more realistic £40,000. Many considered that the CRS had the potential to be the saviour of AC, and yet at the final count a mere 37 were produced as demand failed to materialise.
Under the bonnet was the Superblower’s 302ci Ford V8 (initially from the Mustang, later an Australian unit) in naturally aspirated form. The quality of the body is excellent, and it was made by Kid Jensen Racing for AC in a proper autoclave oven and moulded from an original MkIV Lightweight, so retains the ’60s styling.
But its failure on the market was down more to the times it lived in than the quality of the product. To prove the point, its owner Alan Faulkner-Stevens has had the dashboard signed by Carroll Shelby, and has arranged a drive for Jack Sears.
Acceleration: 0-60mph 4.1/5.9sec
Number built: 22 Superblowers and 37 CRS's