Shelby Cobra Concept
|2005 Shelby Cobra
The new Ford Shelby Cobra
concept marks the latest step in an exciting evolution of Ford concept
vehicles, with an evocative design, bonafide performance credentials
and – thanks to engineering as nimble and efficient as a sports
car – a level of feasibility that is already close to production-level.
Like the 2002 Ford GT40 concept, the Ford Shelby
Cobra draws on Ford’s emotional and performance roots in a
thoroughly modern interpretation that reinforces the company’s
product-led momentum. It takes its place with the 2005 Ford Mustang,
Five Hundred sedan and Freestyle crossover in the "Year of
the Car," the largest new-product barrage in Ford’s history.
"Our lineup of new 2005 cars is all about
momentum," said Jim Padilla, executive vice president and president
of the Americas, Ford Motor Company. "But the Ford Shelby Cobra
concept is all about speed."
The Ford Shelby Cobra’s design reinforces
this mission, with minimalist interior and exterior elements that
emphasize its performance-oriented function. Cues like the massive
grille opening, side vents, low-back seats and bulging wheel arches
establish an emotional connection with Carroll Shelby’s original
1960s Cobras, but no dimensions or proportions are copied in this
thoroughly modern two-seater.
The Ford Shelby Cobra concept team drew heavily
on the Ford GT production car – especially the space frame
and suspension – to maximize efficiencies. Although the cars
have vastly different characters and different dimensions, smart
engineering quickly adapted the rear-mid-engine Ford GT platform
to this front-mid-engine application.
Inspired by the biggest, baddest
Cobra of all – the renowned 427 – Ford engineers created
a new aluminum-block V-10 to power the Ford Shelby Cobra concept.
This 6.4-liter engine, adapted from Ford’s MOD family, delivers
the rush of raw power associated with that big 1960s V-8 monster
– with 605 horsepower and 501 foot-pounds of torque –
without the aid of supercharging or turbocharging.
This combination of brute force and
thorough engineering has created a rarity in the world of auto shows
– a concept car that can actually do, rather than merely promise,
zero to 60 in under four seconds, and would easily exceed 100 mph
if not electronically limited. With show cars typically limited
to a stately 15 mph or so, this fact points at the level of engineering
packed into the Ford Shelby Cobra concept – and points to
the authenticity that comes from working with Carroll Shelby once
"I'm sure the question on everyone’s
mind at this point is, ‘Are you going to build a production
version?’ The answer is, ‘We'll see.’ If we get
the same overwhelming reaction to the Cobra concept as we did to
the GT concept, anything is possible," said J Mays, group vice
|A New Legend is
|As the saying goes, too
much power is almost enough. So thought Carroll Shelby when he shoe-horned
a 427-cubic-inch Ford V-8 under the hood of a small British roadster,
giving birth to the legendary 427 Cobra.
Four decades later, Ford’s Advanced Product
Creation team – an in-house think-tank cum skunk works –
explored the idea of applying Shelby’s famous formula to the
latest components and architectures Ford has to offer. The result
is the Ford Shelby Cobra concept, a radical new roadster, fully
engineered for high-speed testing, completed in just five months
by a small, tightly focused team of enthusiasts.
This production-feasible roadster has a 427-inspired
605-horsepower, all-aluminum V-10 engine mounted at the front of
an advanced aluminum chassis modified from the rear-engine Ford
It weighs slightly more than
3,000 pounds and is about as long as a Mazda Miata. There’s
no roof, no side glass, not even a radio. "That’s the
formula," said Carroll Shelby. "It’s a massive motor
in a tiny, lightweight car."
|Highly Evolved Engineering
|The Ford Shelby Cobra concept
is not just a huge engine with a pair of seats along for the ride.
Owing to its front engine and rear transaxle layout, the roadster
has nearly perfect weight distribution and a world-class supercar
suspension for agility to match its alacrity.
What’s more, this ultimate roadster seats
full-size adults without compromise. It actually has more front-seat
legroom than a Ford Crown Victoria sedan. This key packaging achievement
wouldn’t be necessary on a typical show car – but is
absolutely essential to demonstrate production feasibility.
"We put together the mechanicals of a world-class
supercar in a compact roadster package that can seat full-size adults,"
said Manfred Rumpel, manager, Advanced Product Creation. "And
we did it in just five months on a budget smaller than that for
many nonfunctional, nonengineered show cars."
The secret to the team’s success was Ford’s
stepped-up efforts toward commonality, speed and the expertise of
a team of engineers who had previously completed the all-new Ford
GT in just 15 months.
"With the Ford GT, we now have a collection
of supercar components," said Chris Theodore, vice president,
Advanced Product Creation. "We also have a team of engineers
who know how to work fast to get the job done.
"It can take a year to build a concept
car that doesn’t even run or is speed-limited to 15 mph,"
Theodore said. "But in five months, we built one that will
do 100 mph on the racetrack today."
Honoring the Cobra
heritage is a fully modern architecture with subtle styling cues
that hint at the legendary Cobras of the 1960s.
"What we’re trying to do
is not just take the audience somewhere they haven’t been
in a very long time, but take them somewhere they’ve never
been – and there’s a lot of magic in trying to do that,"
First and foremost, the Ford Shelby
Cobra concept is a performance car, and every surface and line has
its roots in the car’s engineering mettle.
"The powertrain, the space frame
and the suspension were all key elements in the design, although
for the most part, you don’t see them," said Richard
Hutting, chief designer. "These established our proportions
and naturally led to a race-bred shape that evokes the original
Shelby Cobra, without sharing a single dimension or proportion.
Just like its underpinnings, this car is thoroughly modern in every
While the design is clearly 21st century,
the roadster is intentionally familiar. Key details – the
dominant grille opening, hood scoop, vertical bumper bars and stacked
lamps front and rear – establish the historical connection
to Shelby’s original creation.
"When you’re setting out
to tell a story about an automobile in a fresh, contemporary way,
you’re not actually looking to create beauty – you’re
looking to create meaning," said Mays. "We have interpreted
that raw, aggressive Cobra attitude in a very modern way."
The Ford Shelby Cobra concept completes
the trilogy of Ford’s greatest performance vehicles: the GT40,
Mustang and Shelby Cobra. It heralds a new era of speed from Ford,
the company that best knows and most loves performance cars.
|Ford And Shelby:
Partners At The Finish Line For More Than Four Decades
role in the program was more than that of a spiritual leader. "As
soon as we decided to build the Cobra, J Mays and I went to talk
with him," Theodore said. "Carroll has been involved every
step of the way."
Shelby’s presence at every management
review provided authenticity, as well as real contributions to the
program. For example, he and Theodore independently hit on the breakthrough
idea of the rear transaxle.
It might shock many young racing hopefuls
today to learn that Shelby didn’t enter his first automobile
race – a quarter-mile drag meet – until he was nearly
30 years of age. What’s no surprise, of course, is that the
hot rod Shelby drove to the finish line that day in 1952 was powered
by a Ford V-8.
Shelby may have started late, but he
was a winner from the beginning. Just two years into Shelby’s
driving career, Aston Martin’s racing manager, John Wyer,
recruited him to co-drive a DB3 at the Sebring endurance race. Within
months, the chicken farmer from Texas was bumping elbows and trading
paint with the likes of glamorous grand prix drivers Juan-Manuel
Fangio, Phil Hill and Paul Frère. He won Europe’s prestigious
24-hour endurance race at Le Mans in 1959, driving an Aston Martin
DBR1 with Roy Salvadori.
Early in 1962, Shelby drove his second
Ford-powered race car. It was the first mockup for the Cobra, Shelby’s
now-legendary marriage of a lightweight British roadster body with
a small-block Ford V-8. By January 1963, he had homologated the
car under the FIA’s GT III class rules and was lapping Corvette
Stingrays at Riverside Raceway in Southern California.
In January 1965, Ford hired Shelby
to lend his expertise to the upstart GT40 campaign. While Ford and
Shelby took on Ferrari at Le Mans with the GT40, and won, they continued
to fight Corvette at home with the Cobra. Production of the vehicle,
which had a 1-ton weight advantage over the Corvette, began in June
1962 and continued through March 1967.
The first 75 Cobras that Shelby built
were powered by Ford’s 260-cubic-inch V-8; 51 more had the
larger and far more powerful 289.
Shelby first installed the Ford "side-oiler"
427 engine in the Cobra in October 1963, but the combination of
this powerful engine and the rear leaf-spring suspension made the
car treacherous to drive. Ford helped Shelby completely redesign
the chassis, including an all-new coil-spring rear suspension, and
by January 1965, Shelby introduced the production 427 Cobra –
the car many enthusiasts herald as the ultimate street-legal racer.
"Our original objective was to
build a sports car that would outrun Corvette," Shelby said.
"I never dreamed it would become the icon that it did."
|Ford Shelby Cobra
Vehicle Type - Open-top
Powertrain and Chassis
Chassis construction - Welded and bonded space frame of cast and extruded
Dimensions (in inches unless otherwise noted)
Wheelbase - 100.0
Overall length - 155.4
Overall width - 75.0
Track width, front - 60.6
Track width, rear - 60.4
Front legroom - 45.4
Curb weight - 3,075 pounds (target with production-level bodywork)
Type - 6.4L, 90-degree V-10
Configuration - Aluminum engine block and cylinder heads
Redline - 7,500 rpm
Valvetrain - DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Intake - Velocity stacks with sliding plate throttles
Bore x Stroke - 3.66 x 3.70 in / 93.0 x 94.0 mm
Displacement - 390 cu in / 6,392 cc
Compression Ratio - 10.8:1
Horsepower - 605 @ 6,750 rpm
Torque - 501 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
Layout - Mid-front engine, rear transmission, rear-wheel-drive
Type - Ricardo 6-speed transaxle
Gear Ratios - Theoretical top speed at redline
1st - 2.60:1 - 64 mph
2nd - 1.70:1 - 98 mph
3rd - 1.23:1 - 135 mph
4th - 0.95:1 - 175 mph
5th - 0.76:1 - 219 mph
6th - 0.63:1 - 267 mph
Reverse - 3.14:1
Final Drive - 3.36:1 limited slip
Front - Unequal-length aluminum control arms, coil-over monotube shocks,
Rear - Unequal-length aluminum control arms, coil-over monotube shocks,
Type - Rack-and-pinion with power assist
Ratio - 17.0:1
Front - 14.0 x 1.3 in. (355 x 32 mm) Brembo cross-drilled and vented
discs, four-piston monoblock calipers
Rear - 13.2 x 1.3 in. (335 x 32 mm) Brembo cross-drilled and vented
discs, four-piston monoblock calipers
Tires and Wheels
Front - P275/40R18 BF Goodrich racing tires on 18 x 10-inch BBS wheels
Rear - P345/35R19 BF Goodrich racing tires on 19 x 13-inch BBS wheels