The automotive landscape was changing rapidly in the late 1960s. Safety and Emissions had entered the lexicon of designers, engineers, and marketing boffins, and buyers began to demand increasing levels of refinement – regardless of performance ability. This shift, combined with Ford’s decision to take all motorsports activities in-house (bringing Carroll Shelby with them), spelled the end of the line for the legendary AC-built Shelby Cobra. Down but not out, the bosses at Thames-Ditton devised a new car they hoped would take over the Cobra’s crown and carry the firm into the coming decade.
The design brief called for a larger, more refined GT-oriented car based on the proven coil-spring Cobra chassis but lengthened to accommodate a new body and more luxurious cockpit. AC again called upon Ford to supply the drivetrain, this time the 428 cubic-inch FE Interceptor engine. While less powerful than the 427 side-oiler, the 428 made power at lower revs and was more suited to grand touring than the high-strung side-oiler. The most significant change came when clothing the new chassis. AC turned to Pietro Frua in Italy to pen a new body that was a complete about-face from the curvaceous, wide-hipped Cobra. Svelte and sophisticated, the crisp fastback Coupe and Convertible bore more than a passing resemblance to other Frua creations - the Maserati Mistral and Monteverdi 375.
Production of the 428 was a truly international affair, with chassis built in the UK, shipped to Italy for their coachwork, and then sent back to the AC factory in Thames-Ditton for final assembly and installation of the American V8. It was a costly endeavor, and the gut punch of a fuel crisis put the project in jeopardy before it truly got going. Production ended in 1973 after just 51 Coupes and 29 Convertibles were completed, and surviving examples are highly sought-after.
This example, chassis CF 14, is an original right-drive car that held pride of place in Jim Feldman’s impressive collection for 36 years. Impressively presented in red over black upholstery, it is a beautiful example of this rarely-seen grand tourer. According to documents on file, CF 14’s first owner was none other than Rob Walker, heir to the Johnnie Walker whisky fortune and highly successful privateer racing team owner. Walker’s famous white-banded dark blue racing cars carried the likes of Sterling Moss, Tony Brooks, Jack Brabham, Maurice Trintignant, and many others to numerous victories in Formula 1 and Sports Car racing.
Early in 1971, Walker sold CF 14 to Adrian McAlpine of the British McAlpine industrial family. During his ownership, air conditioning and an updated cooling system were fitted, making this one of just four 428s known to have these modifications. It is also noted that this car has the desirable alloy doors and deck lids, as later cars were in steel. In June 1971, the engine developed a terminal fault, and CF 14 was returned to the AC Works Service Department for replacement. A receipt from AC’s service department shows the engine was replaced at 25,994 miles. The 428 remained in the care of Adrian McAlpine for many years and was maintained in top condition by his private mechanic. In the 1970s, McAlpine had the AC stripped to bare metal and resprayed in a light mushroom color, and the wheels finished in silver enamel. In 1985, CF 14 was sold via Epping Motor Company to Jim Feldman, who restored the car to a very high standard for display in premier concours events, including the 1990 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it earned 2nd in Class.
The AC remained in the care of Mr. Feldman until 2021, when it passed to another collector, staying superbly maintained along the way. It is in excellent condition with beautifully finished coachwork, superb paint, and finely restored bright trim. It rides on sparkling chrome knock-off wire wheels fitted with period-correct Avon tires, ensuring an authentic aesthetic and ride/handling characteristics. The businesslike cabin was recently restored to a high standard, and is highly detailed, featuring sumptuous black leather with charcoal carpets. The cluster of toggle switches, round Smiths dials, and U-shaped gear selector call to mind a jet airliner cockpit, underlining the gran turismo character of the AC 428 Frua. The Ford 428 engine retains the A/C system installed in the 1970s and is authentically presented while showing signs of regular use.
With well-documented provenance, including ownership by one of the most legendary characters in British Motorsport, and a superbly-maintained restoration, CF 14 remains a deeply appealing example of this rare and competent grand tourer – a grown-up Cobra for discerning collectors.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7514
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