Shelby Cobra History: The Cobra concept of a high horsepower to weight ratio got its start when Brian Lister put a V twin JAP engine in a John Tojeiro light-weight racing chassis, which also influenced the Ferrari driven by Cliff Davis. Then Davis joined forces with the AC Car factory to put his new design into production, which evolved into the Cobra.
AC Cars floundered for lack of a suitable engine until Carroll Shelby came along, convincing Ford to let him use their new 260 cubic inch V8 engine, with the promise of competing with the Chevrolet Corvette. Shelby built the first Cobra in 1962 but the added weight and horsepower called for reengineering, which eventually became the Cobra Mark III, featuring a 428 cubic inch Ford V8 in 1965. The Cobra was a successful racer but never became a production car and only 30 were sold to the general public. However, it is one of the most sought after and copied cars in history.