AC Cars has recommenced assembly operations at its plant in Frimley, Surrey, following the conclusion of a supply agreement with Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas.

The long-term agreement calls for the annual delivery of around 50 aluminium body shells mounted on traditional steel chassis for sale in North America through Shelby's network of more than 20 dealers. The cars will be completed at Shelby's Las Vegas plant, branded Shelby AC Cobra and will be available to customers from mid-2004.

The development follows the announcement made on 7 October 2003 of a strategic alliance between AC Motor Holdings Ltd and Carroll Shelby International Inc. The Frimley operation, which is now employing about 10 people, was closed down by its then operator Private Corporation Ltd in early October (Private Corporation had operated the plant in August 2002).

AC Cars (UK) Ltd is a subsidiary of AC Motor Holdings Ltd, whose chairman Alan Lubinsky said: "We are delighted to once again bring together the activities of Shelby and AC - two names which are inextricably bound by their joint histories but which, for far too long, have operated as rivals.

"The car which we are partially building in the UK is a faithful recreation of the original Shelby-inspired AC Cobra 427 model of the 1960s which we are certain will become an instant hit with all those North American buyers concerned about originality, genuine style and the attributes of real British hand-crafted bodywork".

Lubinsky added that AC Cars Manufacturing Ltd, another subsidiary of AC Motor Holdings Ltd, has recently concluded an agreement with the Malta Development Corporation for the commissioning of a dedicated plant in Malta. Due to open early in 2004, this will produce a new range of cars for sale in the USA, UK, Japan, Australia and ultimately in other European countries.

The first product will be a new version of the AC Ace, the car which was originally launched in 1955 and which preceded the famous Cobra model. This car, with a composite body and Shelby-sourced powertrain, is expected to retail in the US at around $40,000 minus engine and transmission. Lubinsky said that other models, including the innovative AC Mamba coupe, would follow in due course, all of which will be sold through the new distribution channels.

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