Machine Design

Ford Shelby Cobra concept

Apparently, Ford was just getting warmed up when it developed the concept GT into a production vehicle. Next on the horizon: the Shelby Cobra concept.

Actually, the concept borrows heavily from the GT, though it's a front-engine design and the GT is a midrear engine vehicle. The Cobra concept uses the GT suspension and elements of its space frame, specifically cast-aluminum suspension nodes, rear rails, and bumper beam.

Powering the Cobra is a new aluminum block 6.4-liter V10 that boasts 605 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque, without turbo or supercharging. Dual-overhead cams and cylinders are fed by port fuel injection. Velocity stacks are just visible in the hood scoop. To keep a low hood line, the throttles are a slide-plate design and the lubrication system is dry-sump type, which relocates the oil from underneath the engine to a remote tank. To fit the engine in the bay without taking up legroom, a six-speed manual transmission mounts in the rear and connects to the engine via a torque tube, creating a narrow tunnel between the seats. Because torque-tube drive shafts are prone to vibration, a stationary outer tube stabilizes the engine and transmission. The spinning inner shaft taps crankshaft torque via a twin-disc, small-diameter clutch that mounts at the back of the engine.

The Cobra concept carries a double-wishbone suspension with unequal-length aluminum control arms, coil-over-monotube shocks, and stabilizer bars front and rear.To control all this power, Brembo cross-drilled and vented discs with four-piston monoblock calipers sit at all four wheels. The discs are 14 in. up front and 13.2-in. rear. BF Goodrich racing slicks adorn the 18-in. front and 19-in. rear wheels.

According to Ford, the Cobra hits zero to 60 mph in under 4 sec. And the Cobra concept is strictly a performance vehicle: It carries no radio, side windows or mirrors, windshield wipers, or convertible top. Also, door handles mount high on the inside of the door instead of outside. A trio of video cameras in both A pillars and the center of the windshield frame create real-time color images displayed on a digital version of a traditional center-mounted rearview mirror. The images from each camera come together on an LCD, forming a 180° panorama. Will Ford build this racing machine? It's a wait-and-see game.

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