AC 289 Sports: more refined than a Cobra

Underneath the arches this is a gentler beast than you’d imagine. Simon de Burton explains the varied history of a real AC that’s no Cobra

AC 298 Sports

Mechanically this is a late-model 289, despite pumped-up arches thanks to a later owner

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Ain’t no substitute for cubic inches” was once a popular refrain among American car racers – but many regard the British-built 289 cubic inch version of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra as both sweeter to drive and prettier to look at than its mighty 427-powered brother. And while this example may not look like it at first, it began life as just that. Gentleman racer David Skailes of the Cropwell Bishop cheese-making family acquired it from HW Motors in Walton-on-Thames after part-exchanging his brother Ian’s Marcos and handing over £2183 15s in cash.

After AC had shipped its last cars to Shelby in December 1966, the Thames Ditton firm hit on the idea of combining the 427’s coil-sprung chassis with the less rowdy 289 engine – and thus (since Ford owned the rights to the Cobra name) the AC 289 Sports was born.

Specified with Pacific Green paint, black interior, a hard top and radio, the car was supplied to Skailes by the Aston Martin dealership and race car constructor HWM – and was personally delivered by the firm’s owner, the celebrated driver George Abecassis. Skailes used it purely as a road car before selling it on, and by the early 1970s it had been converted to full 427 specification – complete with pumped-up wheel arches and ‘side oiler’ engine.

Rear of 1967 AC 289 Sports

Coil-sprung chassis of last 427s offers more refined manner

As with many Cobras, the car passed through the hands of noted marque specialist Rod Leach, who sold it to another UK owner, shortly after which it was exported to South Africa where it remained for a decade before appearing at a Christie’s auction in 2002.

After being driven extensively in Europe – notably at events such as the Kitzbuhl Alpine Rally and the Ennstal Classic – the Cobra found a new owner in Japan who ‘downsized’ to a small-block 302 engine.

Now, however, the car is mechanically back to how it should be following a painstaking rebuild started in 2015 that included the installation of a correct 289 ‘Hi-Po’ V8 and – remarkably – a reunion with its original Surrey registration mark.

Cockpit of 1967 AC 289 Sports
Shelby badge on AC 289 Sports

Despite being souped-up and having its arches boosted during the 1970s and ’80s, the car remains remarkably original with its ‘COB6116’ chassis number still to be found on the bonnet, boot lid and doors.

One of just 20 right-hand-drive 289 Sports built, it’s said to be ‘sensational’ to drive – and it looks it, too.

Definitely one for the summer.

1967 AC 289 Sports

On offer at The Classic Motor Hub, Bibury, Gloucestershire
classicmotorhub.com
Asking: £525,000