AC Cars signs deal for U.S. distribution of "real" Cobras

AC Cars Ltd. and Texas-based Unique Performance, Inc. have announced an exclusive distribution deal that will bring AC's MkV roadster to the U.S. market. The carbon fiber bodied roadster is produced in the U.K. by AC, Britain's oldest automotive manufacturer, and the company that built the AC Ace, which Carroll Shelby transformed into the legendary AC Cobra.

Unique Performance is already well-established as a builder of limited-edition performance cars, notably a line of Chip Foose-designed Ford Mustangs. The company is already building a demo version of the AC MarkV, powered by a Ford 4.6-liter crate engine.

Faithful readers will recall that late last year, we reported on AC Cars' plan to open a production factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut. No word on the impact of this latest announcement on AC's U.S. production plans, but we have to assume that they've been shelved for the time being.

It will be interesting to see if an authentic AC roadster will cut into the sales of the multitude of Cobra knockoffs already rumbling through the U.S. market. No word on pricing, but Unique is apparently already taking orders.

Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Unique Performance] Press Release:

AC Cars and Unique Performance Sign Historic Anglo-American Sports Car Distribution Agreement; Texans to Import Roadsters from Britain's Oldest Car Maker

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 30, 2006--An agreement between Texas-based Unique Performance and AC Cars Ltd. will officially return genuine sports cars from the historic British marque to North America. As the exclusive distributor of the carbon fiber bodied AC MkV component roadster, Unique Performance will offer a limited number of the Anglo-American sports cars to customers beginning in April 2006. Unique Performance manufactures and distributes limited edition signature series vehicles including the Shelby G.T.500E, Shelby G.T.350SR and the Foose '69 Camaro.

"AC is one of the most admired and respected marques in the world," stated Douglas Hasty, president and CEO of Unique Performance. "Their sports cars ignited a passion that still burns inside enthusiasts today. For over a century, the company has built cars with superb engineering, old world craftsmanship and classic designs. Our agreement with AC makes it possible for a few in North America to enjoy one of these magnificent machines that combines a British chassis with American V8 power."

AC manufacturers the MkV in a European factory; the cars will be imported to Unique Performance in Texas as a component car. Unique Performance will offer the authentic AC through its dealer network in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"I'm pleased to officially reintroduce AC cars to North America," said Alan Lubinsky, chairman of AC Cars Limited. "We approached the Unique Performance team because, like AC, they have proven expertise in the manufacture and distribution of limited edition specialty cars. No other company in the United States offered the stability, capability and creditability to make this exciting venture successful."

The MkV is an open-top sports car based on the design of the Le Mans winning AC Cobra with many of the original car's characteristics while incorporating modern technology. The cars are not replicas and are offered only as a complete rolling chassis that is factory assembled, painted, fully instrumented and upholstered with brakes, suspension, exhaust and wheels, but without an engine or transmission.

"There are approximately 1,500 copies of the cars we built in the 1960s sold each year in America," added Lubinsky. "Why would anyone buy a replica when they can own an authentic AC roadster that is lighter, faster and better for the same cost?"

Weighing a scant 2,650 pounds with the recommended Ford Racing 4.6L V8 crate engine and manual transmission, the lightweight sports car can hit 60 MPH in approximately 4.5 seconds. As the MkV will be imported as a component car, dealers and customers will install their own drive train; the roadster is designed to accept a Ford 4.6L, 302 or 351W crate engine.

"The AC MkV is wickedly addictive," Hasty added. "One drive in the scorching fast sports car creates an adrenalin rush that will last a lifetime. The AC MkV offers heritage, performance and timeless styling that stirs the soul."

The AC chassis has been at the heart of some of the most legendary cars in history. Texan Carroll Shelby imported a number of rolling chassis from AC in the 1960s to build the legendary "Cobras" that dominated international sports car racing. The Shelby American team inserted a performance tuned Ford V8 and gearbox into a chassis and body supplied by AC for the North American market. At the same time, AC manufactured a car that has been replicated by numerous companies.

"The last time a Texan fitted a Ford V8 into our cars, it was pure magic," noted Lubinsky. "We expect history to repeat with even more impressive results. The MkV is just the first page in a new chapter that will once again thrust AC to the pinnacle of the American performance scene."

The initial AC MkV has already arrived in the United States. The Chiltern Green sports car will be fitted with a Ford Racing 4.6L V8 engine and T-56 gearbox for demonstration purposes. Additional cars will be delivered to Unique Performance within the following 30 days and orders will be accepted as of April 1, 2006. Additional information is available at

About Unique Performance, Inc.

Unique Performance builds and distributes limited edition vehicles including the continuation Shelbys and muscle cars designed by Chip Foose. Adept in all aspects of fabrication, restoration, racing preparation and development, the company has created vehicles for customers worldwide. Information about Unique Performance is available at

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