It's a Cobra, but not as we know it

| 20 Jul 2011

Yes you could be excused for reaching for your sunglasses to avoid the bling off its brightwork and, yes, we know many will regard it as proof that money can't buy taste but you have to agree this concept Cobra is a contender for the world's wackiest four-wheel creation. And its lines were penned by one of the greatest names in car design: one Virgil Exner.Surprised? Well so was the head of America's Copper Development Association back in 1963 when he spied the design - one of four Exner (then Chrysler's Vice President of Design) created - in Esquire magazine.

The concept drawings had been Exner's response to a brief on the possibilities for expressing heritage within the constraints of modern car design and this was inspired by a Mercer racer. It's array of brass-era themed brightwork caught the attention of the said captain of the copper industry, who commissioned Exner to bring it to life as showcase of his wares.That involved shipping a Cobra chassis from AC in Thames Ditton to coachbuilder Sibona-Bassano in Italy and - some $35,000 later - the Cobra was ready as a rolling demonstration of the myriad available brass and copper finishes.

In total some eleven different copper and brass-based finished featured in the car's brightwork, engine and interior, along with it's suspension. Even the brake discs were made of copper alloy to prove the metal's ability to transfer heat.

Upon completion the Cobra toured six continents before being bought by collector Joe Bortz in the early 1970s.Fast forward nearly four decades and this unique Cobra is for sale, having being consigned my RM Auctions for it's annual Monterey bash on 19-20 August, when it's expected to go under the hammer for $800-1.2m. (see: