Martin Hunt, 52, who produces English sparkling wines at his vineyard on the South Downs, bought the AC Cobra, which still boasts many of its original features, in 2010.
The Cobra, a British-built car, was designed in response to a request by American automotive designer, racing driver and entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby, who wanted an AC car modified to accept a V8 engine.
Modelled on the AC Ace, finished Cobras were sent to Shelby, who then added the engine and gearbox in his Los Angeles workshop.
Martin’s 1963 model is a transition between the early and later Cobras – built with the larger 4.7 litre engine of the Mk 2, but still with the steering box and old-fashioned suspension of the Mk 1. Martin has been known to fit a smaller engine to allow the Cobra to race in different categories.
The car spent the first 10 years of its life in California, where it took part in a handful of gentle hill climbs and sprints. It then had a number of owners around the world, including Canada and Portugal, before being brought back to England in the late 80s by Formula One driver, and 1976 British Formula Three champion, Rupert Keegan.
By the time Martin bought it, the Cobra wasn’t really a racing car. He said: “I set about gently improving it, without changing the look and feel. It is one of very few Cobras left that still race on the old spoked, wire wheels.”
Martin worked hard on the car’s suspension and steering to ensure they were safe and legal for competition.
The Cobra has now been competing for four years and has been placed second and third on a number of occasions.
Martin himself has been competing for six years and has raced in a number of cars, including an E-Type Jaguar and a Mini Cooper S. His best result was winning the Castle Combe Classic in the E-Type.
We wish Martin the very best of luck and hope he is able to crack open a bottle of his finest wine to celebrate after the Hill Climb.