The first batch of new “born-again” AC Cobras have arrived in the UK, offering the choice of petrol or electric power. However, the “faithful recreations” of Carroll Shelby’s fire-spitting sports car are being offered to British customers without the classic V8 engine, with more modern forms of propulsion on the menu.

Buyers in the UK get the choice of a Ford 2.3-litre petrol engine or an electric motor. The former is the same four-cylinder unit found in entry-level versions of the Mustang, while the latter offers a silent, zero-emission alternative. Both powertrains are being fitted by AC Cars’ Derby-based technical partner, Falcon Electric.

Those engines form the basis of two special-edition Cobras, each of which will be limited to just 58 examples. AC Cars says that number is significant because it is now 58 years since the Cobra was first created.

Almost six decades later, the modern electric powertrain will underpin the AC Cobra Series 1, while the Ford petrol engine will power the AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition. Both will mirror the iconic shape of the original Cobra, but add modern running gear, as well as modern propulsion.

The electric version will come with a 54 kWh battery and a 308 bhp motor, allowing the car to sprint from a standstill to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds. If driven slightly more considerately, though, the car is expected to manage around 150 miles on a full charge. The 140 Charter Edition’s 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine, meanwhile, will churn out around 350 bhp, taking the 1.1-tonne sports car from 0-62 mph in about six seconds.

AC Cobras bound for Britain as EVs

Despite that performance, those power units are a far cry from the Ford V8s originally fitted in the Cobra. The car started out life as the British-built AC Ace, but the late, great Carroll Shelby dropped a 4.3-litre V8 motor under the bonnet and turned the lithe roadster into a rip-roaring, muscular sports car.

Earlier this summer, AC Cars promised to bring the Cobra back to the British market, and the company’s CEO, Alan Lubinsky, said his firm was delivering on that promise.

“Bringing cars to market at the right time and to the required quality is difficult enough,” he said. “Doing so in the teeth of the Covid crisis, not to mention Brexit, is doubly difficult but today we’ve proved we are up to the challenge. I am confident these two innovative recreations of classic Cobras – brought right up to date – will bring us real sales success and re-establish the AC brand in the traditional home market for outstanding sports cars.”

Gallery: AC Cobras bound for Britain as EVs