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A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

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On: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 10:37AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

When is a Cobra not a Cobra?  Any gearhead who has been to a car show can tell you the answer to that seemingly simple question. A Cobra is an original car Carroll Shelby made, and any replica is just an imitation. Or is it? Upon further investigation, it may be a deeper question than at first glance.   

A lot has changed since Carroll Shelby took a mild-mannered AC Ace and stuffed a thumping 289 Ford V8 into it, and then later dropping the legendary 427 into that barely-over-a-ton body to instantly create the Superman of hot rods. Science has evolved, technology has improved, and we as a human race have been introduced to more ethical questions than ever before. Mention the idea of cloning to anyone back in 1965 and it would sound like some obscure science fiction movie. Yet, just about thirty years later, science gave us Dolly, the first cloned sheep. Now, here’s where things get fun. Was Dolly a real lamb? Well one argument says yes, in fact, she was a real lamb. She existed in the world, ate food, breathed air, and walked among us as a creature of Earth. The opposing argument, however, says that she was not even a she, she was an ‘it’, and it was never born, but was created by man in a test tube. ‘It’ was an abomination, and can not, should not, and will not ever be considered to be a real lamb.  

So what does this have to do with a simple automotive column? We will get to that, but in order to do that, first your humble pseudo-philosophical author presents to you the Iconic AC Roadster. An 800 horsepower, 2400 pound street demon that looks a lot like a very famous reptilian car of yesteryear. The facts of this car are simple and simply amazing all at once. Powered by a NASCAR derived 7.0 liter Ford V8, pumping out an aforementioned NASCAR-like 825hp and 680 lb-ft of torque funneled through a Tremec-derived six-speed, this racer is shod with top of the line parts inside and out.

The body panels are hand-formed aluminum rolled and hammered by … Believe it or not … Actual humans. The brake master cylinder, dry-sump oil reservoir and other pieces are literally carved out of block of aluminum (this time by machine). Brembo supplies the reins for this beast in the form of the new gold standard in braking for supercars: 14-inch Carbon-ceramic rotors for reduced unsprung weight and heavy track use shod in P275/35ZR-18s up front and P325/30ZR-19s Goodyear F1 Supercar Run Flats out back. The passenger tub is all carbon fiber enhanced by aluminum honeycomb that is bonded to a chrome-alloy tubular steel frame that results in one of the most rigid structures this side of a steel beam. Oh, and don’t worry about burning yourself on those massive five-inch side pipes; Iconic gave them a polished stainless steel outer skin to help dissipate heat quickly so scarring shouldn’t be an issue.

The other neat trick employed by Iconic’s founder, Claudio Ballard, is the use of something called VEEDIMS, which stands for Virtual Electrical Electronic Device Interface Management System. In simplified terms, VEEDIMS is an Ethernet wiring system that replaces the need for traditional wiring harnesses that, as any old school hot-rod or restomod enthusiast can tell you, can be a little difficult at times. VEEDIMS utilizes microprocessors and small integrated systems that allow for not only much more efficient power and data delivery, but also much more effective use of space because there is no need to hide computer boxes throughout the interior.

Speaking of interior, once inside the belly of this beast, you will be surrounded by an almost paradoxical seat. It is a hand wrapped leather seat, complete with reverse stitching to provide the very pinnacle of luxury and comfort, but then you have to strap on a four-point racing harness bolted to the floor through that fine leather. There is a substantial amount of billet aluminum, and carbon fiber sprinkled about the cabin to compliment the rest of the small cockpit.

So now that you know about the car, let’s get back to our original point, shall we? What does Dolly, the Sheep, have to do with this racecar for the road? Well, much in the same way the debate still rages on whether or not Dolly was a “real” sheep, the argument over whether or not a replica Cobra is, in fact, a Cobra. Like it or not, many that see Iconic’s beautiful beast will instantly jump to that loathed “R” word. But, the Iconic AC Roadster is no mere replica. It isn’t trying to be an exact copy of Carroll Shelby’s creation, yet at the same time; it isn’t trying not to recall memories of arguably the greatest sports car of all time. Let’s look at the fact, much in the way that Dolly the Sheep had eyes, ears, legs, wool, and could act and live as normally as any other sheep for her short life, the Iconic AC Roadster has all of the anatomically correct parts necessary for being a Cobra, and then some. In fact, the Iconic version more than likely could best the Shelby version in every statistically measurable category.

So where does that leave us? Well, one of the big sticking points of cloning seems to be the discussion of the presence of a soul or not. Now, whether or not animals or clones of animals have souls is where this author drops out the debate on a public forum, but we can use that criterion to ascertain the answer we are looking for in terms of our Iconic AC Roadster. Obviously a ‘soul’ has a different connotation in the car world, but no true car-minded individual would argue that the original Shelby Cobra did not have a ‘soul’, not in the religious sense, but in the way that it had a character and an undeniable essence about it. Now, as for the Iconic AC Roadster, was it one of the original 898 Cobras manufactured from 1962-1967? No. But, when you see its advanced LED projector headlights leading the way into the future, its captivating good looks, and listen to its modern Talladega-worthy motor start up, is there any denying that it too has a certain personality, or even ‘soul’ of it’s own? Is it possible that the Iconic AC Roadster may have bridged the gap between ‘real’ and ‘fake’? Is it possible that they took a great idea for a car, and simply improved and modernized it to take it to the outermost reaches of its potential? Come to think of it, I remember seeing something like that happen with an AC Ace a while ago …

Iconic AC Roadster Tech Specs

Engine: Naturally Aspirated 427ci (6997cc) Fuel Injected V8

Horsepower: 825 @ 7600 rpm

Torque: 680 lb-ft @ 5800 rpm

Maximum RPM: 8000

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Final Drive: 3.73:1


0-60 mph: less than 3 seconds

Top Speed: 200+

Price: ~$500,000

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