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AC Cars signs deal for U.S. distribution of "real" Cobras

AC Cars Ltd. and Texas-based Unique Performance, Inc. have announced an exclusive distribution deal that will bring AC's MkV roadster to the U.S. market. The carbon fiber bodied roadster is produced in the U.K. by AC, Britain's oldest automotive manufacturer, and the company that built the AC Ace, which Carroll Shelby transformed into the legendary AC Cobra.

Unique Performance is already well-established as a builder of limited-edition performance cars, notably a line of Chip Foose-designed Ford Mustangs. The company is already building a demo version of the AC MarkV, powered by a Ford 4.6-liter crate engine.

Faithful readers will recall that late last year, we reported on AC Cars' plan to open a production factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut. No word on the impact of this latest announcement on AC's U.S. production plans, but we have to assume that they've been shelved for the time being.

It will be interesting to see if an authentic AC roadster will cut into the sales of the multitude of Cobra knockoffs already rumbling through the U.S. market. No word on pricing, but Unique is apparently already taking orders.

MoPar madness! Foose "Overhaulin'" Challenger to see production

The '71 Challenger that Chip Foose whipped into shape on TLC's "Overhaulin'" TV show back in 2004 must have been a big hit, because Foose is partnering with Texas-based Unique Performance to build a limited production run of Challengers based on the TV version.

The limited edition muscle cars will be quite a bit more capable than the TV car, featuring either 347 cid or 426 cid HEMI powerplants, married to a TKO 5-speed transmission driving through a Unique Performance Parts rear suspension. The updated '70 or '71 Challengers will roll on 18-inch versions of the TV car's 19- and 20-inch Foose wheels (a take-off on MoPar's classic "Rallye" rims), backed by Wilwood disk brakes front and rear.

Foose and Unique Performance have teamed up on a variety of limited production pony cars, including the Foose '69 Camaro and various Mustangs. The Challenger will be launch in July.

What's in a name? "Hemisfear" becomes Foose Coupe as production nears

When we saw this car at SEMA, it wore the Hemisfear moniker. But something happened on the way to (limited) production. Rumor has it Chrysler balked at the use of "HEMI" in the name, and so the Foose Coupe was born. Still available with a 392 crate motor, the Coupe can also be had with a Ford 5.4-liter supercharged engine like the one in the late GT. Foose describes his coupe as "Part supercar, part custom, part hot rod, it's the ultimate ride." Well, there will certainly be at least 50 people who think so. The Foose Coupe will be limited to just 50 copies and each will be hand signed by Chip when construction is completed at Metalcrafters, Inc. in their California facilities. We expect them to go quickly, despite their $295,000 base price.

Round 2: Unique Performance fires back at Shelby

We reported earlier that Shelby was severing ties with Unique Performance, builder of the Shelby GT350 SR and GT500 E continuation series Mustangs. Shelby claims that some customers who put down deposits up to two years ago have not received their cars. Unique has taken approximately $7 million in deposits and has around 50 to 60 orders that they have yet to complete. At least ten customers have also filed suit against Unique, and several of those have also included Shelby Automobiles in their suits as well. Carroll decided that enough was enough and announced he would no longer do business with the Dallas-based company.

Now Doug Hasty, CEO of Unique Performance has fired back. He claims that the production delays were due to faulty engines provided by Shelby. "Twenty-eight of the 42 Shelby Super Snakes produced prior to August 2006 experienced engine issues that led to overheating and/or mechanical failure," said Hasty. "Resources required for addressing the Shelby engine issues led to production delays to all vintage models." Carroll Shelby denies that Unique had informed him of engine problems and says that he only recently learned of the issue a few weeks ago. He also stated that the engine problems have nothing to do with Unique's delayed production of cars.

Hasty claims that the engine issues have been resolved and that the deposit money taken from customers is being used to complete the cars on order. Thirteen cars are scheduled for delivery by the end of this year. As for the ten law suits against Unique Performance, Hasty says that three have already been settled and that the others are being addressed.