My Car Quest

November 19, 2018

AC And The AC 428 Frua – An Evolution Of The Cobra

by Mike –

AC has an interesting history going back to the very early days of the 20th century, with a list of some wonderful cars that carried the AC badge including the AC Bristol and the AC Ace, which transformed into the AC Shelby Cobra with the help of Carroll Shelby. I also have become a fan of the AC Autokraft Cobra Mk IV.

The AC 428 Frua attracts a lot of attention. The styling is striking but not as beautiful as the AC Cobra from which its chassis is derived.

AC 428 Frua

AC 428 Frua

In 1965 AC realized that they needed a grand touring model that could appeal to wealthy customers. They contracted the Italian coach builder Pietro Frua to design a GT body that could be used on a MK III Cobra chassis stretched by 6 inches.

AC 428 Frua

The new car was shown at the 1965 Turin show. A few early models were fitted with the 427 cid Ford motors.

In 1967 the long-stroked 428 cid motor became available and the car was known as the AC Frua. Built out of steel rather than aluminum, the Frua is heavier than a Cobra at slightly under 3,000 lb. It is still a light and very fast car built on a racing chassis.

AC 428 Frua engine

It was not fully developed and the cost of sending a chassis from England to Italy and back for final assembly made it so expensive that only a few were produced. Production ended in 1973 after eighty cars (twenty-nine convertibles and fifty-one coupes) were made.

AC 428 Frua interior

What a beautiful interior – I love the toggle switches.

This is a rare British/Italian American powered exotic that has been increasing in value.

AC 428 Frua engine

I photographed this car at the Carmel Concours on the Avenue in Carmel, California in August 2012.

I wonder how it drives and rides compared to an Iso Grifo or a Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona? It seems like they would have a similar ride, except for the AC’s automatic transmission.

Does anyone have experience driving an AC 428 Frua and an Iso Grifo or a Ferrari Daytona?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

AC 428 Frua

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AC 428 Frua logo

Two different AC logos.

AC 428 Frua logo

A version of this article was first published in November 2012.

Summary
AC And The AC 428 Frua - An Evolution Of The Cobra
Article Name
AC And The AC 428 Frua - An Evolution Of The Cobra
Description
AC has a wonderful history including this AC 428 Frua - a beautiful British/Italian with American power.
Author

Comments

  1. Simon Vels says:

    The AC Frua 428 is one of my favorites .
    Simon

  2. Rob Krantz says:

    Mike, I too saw this car parked on Ocean Ave. in Carmel as part of the Concours on the Avenue. A stunning car. A number of the Frua cars had automatics, which somewhat reduces the appeal of the car to me at least. I believe the color of the car, a light green, is called “Live Oak”.

  3. I love these cars. They are quite well balanced visually and offer a nice variation from most of the cars of that time. These were available both as convertible and fastback designs. In most cases, the fastback designs of sports cars are the better looking. But in this case, a larger population of collectors and enthusiasts prefer the look of the convertible. This is partly due to the expansive glass and side glass that drops below the fender line, appearing somewhat “saggy” in the center.

    Driving a convertible some years ago, I found the car to be VERY front heavy. Cornering made for a bit of advanced planning as one plowed hard into the turns and felt the front begin to drift. The weight balance was highly front favored also causing some mild rear end floating at highway speeds.

    Compared to the fastback (driven some years later) I found that car to be more balanced (the weight of the glass and roof helped). Having only driven a Grifo once in my life, I can tell you that the smaller engine in the Grifo made for a more balanced GT car in the Grifo, however the grunt of the Cobra made it far more exhilarating. One might say that after a 100 mile drive in either car, one might be “Shaken” in the Grifo but “Stirred” in the Cobra, as Mr. Bond might say of his Martini order.

  4. These cars are great to look at but they drive like trucks and in some cases are very dangerous. The suspension systems were never worked out and the build quality is some of the worst i have seen from any Italian firm. The up side is that it is the cheapest real CSX chassis you can buy.

  5. David Grant says:

    I have had 3 AC 428 automobiles in my shop over the last 20 years. The first, was one of 3 Convertible produced by the factory, that were left hand drive with a 4 speed transmission. This 1968 AC 428 took first in class at Pebble Beach in 1995. The second one was a silver/black Coupe, also left hand drive, but with an automatic. And the third was a green/black right hand drive Convertible, originally used in some of AC Cars Ltd advertising. It was also a 4 speed car that the owner had me convert to left hand drive. I still have the right hand drive rack and pinion, if any one needs it for a right hand drive Cobra. These AC 428s are great cars that have been under appreciated for a long time. Great to see the AC 428 on your website, but then, you always have great cars on your website.

  6. R. Campbell says:

    The car in the photographs has now relocated to Scotland. I bought it last year and have driven it regularly since. i would tend to agree on the handling. Tyres and suspension have moved on immeasurably and a degree of caution needs to be applied. On Avon radials the car responds best to slow in/ quick out technique. It is nose heavy and I think a stiffer anti roll bar on the front might help. However driven briskly but with respect, it handles like a ‘soft Cobra’. It is much more of a touring car than my E type Jaguar but still great fun. It is just harder work to conduct quickly.
    Regards
    R. Campbell

  7. R. Campbell says:

    Mike,

    Thank you.

    This car is chassis number CF7 which was AC’s press car during 1968/1969. It featured in many road test articles and was the front cover feature of Autocar magazine.

    Obviously the AC guys in the UK are delighted to have it back. It was imported to the States in 1976 by Chuck Maddox and remained with that family until 2012.

    R. Campbell

  8. Wallace Wyss says:

    Somewhat related, chassis wise, I have seen pictures in Style Auto, a defunct Italian magazine, of a Ghia bodied dark blue AC Cobra 7-litre roadster with removable hardtop,tan interior and white Halibrand wheels. I was wondering if any AC big block fans know if his car survived to today or if it is by chance under the body of the Bordinat/XD Cobra (Royalex body) now in a Detroit museum? It has been hinted that the gld car in Detroit is chassis CSX3001 but I also think the car in Italy could have been built on that chassis..

  9. I own AC Frua 428 chassis number 21 here in Seattle Washington – a silver, right-hand drive, fastback / Coupe. It is known that this is one of only 31 right-hand drive Coupes, of the total 49 fastbacks ever built. It is a restoration candidate, complete and available for sale. My company – Group 2 Motorsports – can project manage a complete, turn-key restoration for the next owner, or the car can be acquired as-is for private restoration. I may be reached by cell phone at 425.949.9518, or via email – JohnV@G2Motorsports.com

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