Project Aurora Cobra: Part 1 – Back From the Dead

Project Aurora Cobra: Part 1 – Back From the Dead

by Ashley DeLuca

I’m sure the first question that you are asking yourself is, “What is an Aurora? I thought that was a crappy Oldsmobile!” Well you aren’t wrong, but there was also another type of Aurora that was originally manufactured by a Canadian automotive company from 1981-1983 designed to be a limited production replica to the slab-side Shelby AC Cobra.  I absolutely fell in love with this two seat roadster as a child and saying that this car and I have a long history is an understatement.  Let me tell you a little about the car that peaked my interest in the automotive world and the journey that we have been on in my short 25 years of life.

 

Here the car is, in all her glory, before the accident. Take note of the goofy looking side blinkers that were a requirement in the early 80's for street legality reasons. 

This car has been in my family since the late 80’s and I have been obsessed with it ever since I was old enough to talk.  The car is an 83 Aurora Cobra MKII and is based off the less common, and much slimmer, early 60’s small block Shelby AC Cobra. In case you were wondering where this sleek body style came from, since the most iconic big block AC Cobras have large fenders and roaring side exhausts, the original Shelby AC Cobra was a British car designed by AC and fitted with an American engine.  The late Carroll Shelby took in this car and molded it into the classic vision that pops into your mind when the words “AC Cobra” is mentioned.  

Only 170 of these cars were built by hand with over four hundred and fifty man hours per car.  A few more unfinished cars were built and sold after the early 80's but in terms of production, the Aurora was restricted by its limited release.   It is the only replica subjected to US DOT specifications for crash safety and EPA compliance allowing this car to be street legal in all 50 states, yes including the ever looming smog dictatorship known as California.

 

When I was a little girl I would spend hours sitting and pretending to drive this car in the driveway.  It was such a treat for me to go on a drive with my dad and shout at him over the engine to go faster!

The original marketing of this car in their brochure seems like a page out of a Calvin Klein ad.  The targeted demographic was clearly with the status elite as all the promotional pictures include posh, expensively dressed women standing around the car with their champion dressage horses and oversized yachts.  Aurora Automotive boasted in its advertisements, “A rational man cannot justify the exhilaration of an Aurora on the open road. To those few who absolutely demand an uncompromising automobile…Anything less would be cheating yourself.”  That statement definitely seems like a tall order considering its limited production but with its initial price tag of a cool $35,000, this car was nothing to snub your nose at.  

 

When your pillar entry way house, championship equestrian horse, and red headed trophy wife just aren't enough, Aurora is here to save the day so you can show your neighbors just how ballin' you are. 

If you aren’t convinced yet how awesome this car is, let me continue… after its initial release, this car had its own feature in Playboy magazine claiming the Aurora to be “One of today's most exciting sports cars” as well as multiple Motor Trend cameos back in the 80s.   With its light weight construction based on a tube frame chassis and hand laminated fiberglass reinforced plastic that is bonded to the chassis, the total weight of this car comes out to a whopping 2,150lbs.  The bonding of the fiberglass to the chassis eliminates the mechanical joining with no squeaks and rattles and insures the durability of the nine coats of acrylic lacquer . The low weight includes the 1983 five liter Ford GT Mustang 302 motor mated to a super T5 transmission that makes right around 206hp and 235 ft/lb of torque.  Although this car is small, with an overall width that is almost 5in more narrow than a Miata, it can still pack a punch and plaster a smile on your face.

 

The Aurora made its initial debut on the pages of Motor Trend magazine in 1982 and focused on the Aurora GRX.  The following year the MKII was compared to two other Shelby Cobra replicas in the magazine but make no mistake, Aurora makes it very clear that this is not a kit car. 

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