Although the original 289 leaf spring chassis has been relegated a back seat by many, this is the real history making chassis of the Cobra legend. The original Cobras produced between 1962 and 1966 had two basic chassis styles with the main differentiation being the chassis rail size and the suspension spring type. The 289 roadsters and Daytona Coupes utilized 3" diameter round tubes as the main members of the ladder style chassis and transverse mounted leaf springs. The 427 roadsters were designed around 4" diameter tube ladder frame and coil springs.
There are many sites on the Internet that give a detailed history of the Cobra, but the following summary is provided here to set the stage for my 289 Cobra replica.
The Cobra was first introduced by Carroll Shelby in 1962. Cobras are identified by their chassis number and the originals started with CSX2000. The "CSX" chassis identification as assigned by AC cars had the following meaning to the factory:"C" represented the third major variation of their basic car product line. "SX" represented the Shelby Export.
The first cars were based on the AC Cars body and a Ford 260 cubic inch engine. The first Cobras utilized a worm and sector steering and generator powered electrical system. Wire wheels completed the package. There were approximately 75 cars of the 260 and generator version.
A number of cars were designated as factory race cars for road racing competition in USRRC and FIA classes. A few Cobra were even prepared for drag racing and are referred to as "Dragon Snakes".
The next major change to the Cobra was installation of a more precise rack and pinion steering system and the newly available Ford 289 cubic inch engine.
At the end of the 289 Cobra production, a total of approximately 650 cars were produced for Shelby American and carried the CSX chassis number.
Additional changes were made on the fly by the AC Cars based on directives from Shelby American based on their experiences in early racing and customer feedback. Changes such as strengthened rear hub, Ford designed electrical system, etc came at a rapid pace. Racing parts that made the Cobras more competitive on the track were also introduced as soon as the were developed. Pin drive hubs to allow use of stronger Halibrand mag wheels, numerous engine intake manifolds (including eight Weber carburetors and dual four barrel carburetors), exhaust system components (headers and side exhaust routing) among others.
The photo below is the first Cobra, CSX2000. It was painted several different colors in its early history to give the impression that Cobras were rolling off the assembly line in large numbers.