Ford unveiled the Shelby Cobra Concept at the Detroit Auto Show back in 2004. As you can tell by a look at your local Ford dealer, the car never made it into production. And considering the current economic climate, it is doubtful Ford would roll out a V10-powered super-roadster. But we can dream, can’t we?
The Cobra Concept is a revival of the venerable Shelby Cobra from the 1960s. The original car featured a small, lightweight roadster body and chassis from AC Cars, a now defunct British auto manufacturer. Crammed into that small body was a huge Ford V8. The idea was simple: a lightweight car with a big engine will go really fast. And it did go really fast, and has become one of the most sought after cars in the world. There were so few of them made, that a lot of Cobra-lovers have had to turn to kit and replica models in order to get their fix. So, when Ford unveiled their concept, there were a lot of expectations.
First off, the engine. V8s are old hat these days, so Ford needed something special. They created a one-off 6.4-liter V10 that produced 600 horsepower and was of an all-aluminum construction. The engine provides a similar rumble to that in the old Cobras, but the old Cobras had sidepipes whereas the concept has rear exhaust pipes. The reason for this is likely the very nature of a V10 engine. V8s have a nice purring rumble because two of the cylinders in an eight-cylinder four-stroke engine are always firing together. This creates a nice even sound. On a V10, however, that balance is lost and the characteristics of the rumble changes. A case in point of this problem is the Dodge Viper. Listen to a V10 Viper and then listen to a big V8. The V8 ill be much more pleasing to the ear. The longer pipes on the Cobra Concept allowed the engineers to tailor the exact path of the exhaust note, and hence tune it to sound right.
The 500 lb-ft of torque that engine generates leads to some very fast accelerations. The car weighs only 3,200 pounds, in keeping with the heritage of the original Cobra, and that amount of power makes it accelerate extremely fast. Under four seconds from 0-to-60 without much trouble. For the sake of comparison, a 2009 Honda Accord coupe weighs just 21 more pounds than the Cobra Concept. This concept is ridiculously light for the amount of power it has.
Because the new Shelby Cobra was only a concept, there isn’t too much information about the drive. The car had a six-speed transmission, a low center of gravity, and rear wheel drive, so it could probably rip through a corner without much trouble. The Concept Cobra probably won’t see the light of day again, at least in the 2004 guise. Stricter emissions regulations and a shrinking market for expensive super-roadsters have definitely put plans for a new Cobra on the back-burner. Maybe some day the Cobra will be back on the streets.