A well-known and notably interesting AC Cobra, ‘13 COB’ enjoyed numerous race successes in the late-1970’s and 1980’s when it was owned by Club member Martin Colvill of the Lotus dealership ‘Bell & Colvill’ [West Horsley, Surrey]. During that period the car secured 12 outright victories, 44 class wins, and was a triple Class A champion of the Historic Sports Car Club Classic Sports Car Championship. The ‘Bell & Colvill Cobra’ also competed in the Historic GT Series.
However, it had an interesting history even before Martin Colvill owned it. Purchased from Willment Racing in early 1966 as a rolling chassis/body with a 4.2 litre V8 engine — which was soon changed for a 4.7 litre one — it was bought by Club member Malcolm Young in 2005. Since then it has been established that it has the same chassis as the famous AC-entered Cobra, ‘39 PH’ driven by Ninian Sanderson and Peter Bolton, that finished seventh overall and first in class at the 1963 Le Mans 24 Hours race; which incidentally is the highest-ever place for a Cobra roadster in that race. This situation came about because Frank Gardner crashed 39 PH, then being campaigned by Willment Racing, in the Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometres race in 1964. In the interests of expediency, 39 PH’s original chassis was replaced with a new one while the damaged chassis was subsequently repaired and retained as a spare—until sold by Willment when it folded. Thus 13 COB’s chassis is the very one that was used at that 1963 Le Mans race— a chassis this AC has unwittingly sported all its life!
Prior to that Nürburgring incident and therefore with this same chassis, Jack Sears finished second overall and second in class in the Goodwood Easter Meeting’s Sussex Trophy. Earlier that year he had also taken second overall and first in class in the Oulton Park Trophy. Then there was a third place in the Aintree 200 and after Frank Gardner twice took victory there, a third overall and third in class in the International Trophy at Silverstone.
13 COB first appeared at Goodwood in the 2012 Revival Meeting’s Shelby Cup race with Malcolm Young and Paul Chudeck. In September 2018 it competed in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration with Anthony Reid and Nicolas Minassian, finishing ninth overall. The car has now been invited to the 2019 Goodwood Members’ Meeting.
On display courtesy of Club member Martin Young from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 February 2019.