Is there a motorcycle equivalent to the AC Cobra? Is there a motorcycle that has that unique combination of appearance and performance that it appeals to almost any enthusiast? It’s hard to think of one. In the automotive world, no matter the enthusiast’s particular interest, many car guys, if not all, will find an attraction to the AC Cobra as one of those rare occurrences when it just came out right. The bodywork has the right shape, the performance, even today, over 40 years after the fact, still gets your attention. It is probably one of the most universally appealing designs in the automotive world and many companies have tried to repackage that lightning in their own bottle with endless Cobra kits or completely constructed cars. It’s an automotive icon.
The other day, I came across an amazing book from Kirkham Motorsports, “The Art of Engineering.” It’s a documentary of the creation of the ultimate roadster, in this case, an aluminum bodied recreation of the AC Cobra for Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. Ellison, as you may know, is able to buy pretty much whatever he wants and Kirkham Motorsports builds some really high quality cars, one thing led to another and he gave them a dream order, build the best Cobra possible. The result is a jaw dropping example of metal work and engineering.
Notice what they did, they didn’t design a new car, they built the ultimate AC Cobra, improving on an icon. Working within the bounds of an established design, they recreated it with the best materials and engineering of today, correcting several shortcomings in the original with methods not available at the time.
Today, even some motorcycle companies like to compare the performance of their bike to the Cobra, that’s how pervasive the car has become, but to be this sort of icon, it’s more than performance, it’s the total package.
Suppose the same sort of order was placed for a motorcycle, the ultimate build of an iconic design using the best materials and engineering available today. What motorcycle would be selected? Is there universal agreement identifying any motorcycle as that rare combination of looks and performance that it appeals to everyone in the same way the Cobra does in the auto world or is the motorcycle enthusiast community too fragmented to agree on any one model? For a one off, cost no object build, what is the iconic motorcycle equivalent to the AC Cobra?
Note: The “Art of Engineering” mentioned above is available for download at the Kirkham link below, it is definitely worth your time! Beautiful photos of stunning engineering and body work.