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Birth of the Cobra? Was it really his idea?

Started by 98SVT - was 06GT, April 01, 2024, 06:12:04 PM

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98SVT - was 06GT

We all know that CS first approached GM for Corvette engines to drop into the AC. Is this the reason he went there first?

Scaglietti Corvette

In 1959, a Texan oil well drilling contractor named Gary Laughlin wondered if it would be possible to create a vehicle with Italian design characteristics using the chassis and engine components from an American car like the Corvette. To oversee this creation, he enlisted the help of car constructer Jim Hall and race car driver Carroll Shelby, whom he was good friends with, to assist with the engineering of the project and, after their efforts, each man was to receive their own Corvette custom made to their liking. Thus, the trio managed to get three rolling Corvette chassis off of the production line and arranged to have them shipped to Modena, Italy. There, with the help of Road & Track correspondent Pete Coltrin, they managed to get in touch with Italian coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti, famous for his design work on Ferrari road cars at the time. Scaglietti agreed to create and fit a new lightweight aluminium body to each car in secret, as Enzo Ferrari reportedly threatened to cancel Scaglietti's partnership with him after learning of the project. The resulting Scaglietti Corvette ended up weighing roughly 400 lbs less than any other Corvette at the time.
Each of the three cars assembled were unique for each owner:
Car #1, originally for Laughlin, was finished in red. It used a slightly different body to accommodate for an existing Corvette front grille. It originally came with a 283 cu in V8 with 315 hp and a four-barrel carburetor, mated to a 2-speed automatic transmission.
Car #2, originally for Hall, was finished in blue. This version had a body more closely resembling the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta LWB. It came with the same carbureted V8 and automatic transmission as Car #1.
Car #3, originally for Shelby, was finished in red. This model was somewhat unique as though it used a similarly designed body to Car #2, it was the only model fitted with fuel-injection and a Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmission. Unlike the other two members of the project, Shelby never took delivery of his car, citing that it was too expensive for his purposes for it.
However, the Scaglietti Corvette was not without its issues. Though conceived in 1959, the final projects wouldn't be completed and shipped back to the US until 1961, by which time it became clear that the aluminum bodies, though much lighter, had caused dramatic effects to the Corvette's chassis, resulting in dangerous front end lift at high speeds. Coupled with legal pressure from General Motors and Enzo Ferrari to put an end to production, and the Scaglietti Corvette project would be forever cemented as only a concept. However, many ideas from the car would prove inspirational, leading Jim Hall to found his Chevrolet-powered Chaparral racing team and Carroll Shelby to revisit the idea of a European-American sports car with the AC Cobra.
Previous owner 6S843 - GT350H & 68 GT500 Convert #135.
Mine: GT1 Mustang Track Toy, 1998 SVT Cobra, Wife's: 2004 Tbird
Member since 1975 - priceless


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