Warren Hall Shelby was a mailman in the small town of Leesburg, Texas. He must have been far from imagining that the new born child, held lovingly in his arms, would later create the most mystic if cars of the 20th century. Warren’s son joined the workforce at young age as a trucker, then oil driller, and finally as a chicken farmer before realizing his greatest potential. The young Carroll Shelby took a while to find his path.
Opportunity came swiftly after an epidemic whipped out his 20,000 clucking chickens, forcing him to take a sharp turn on the road of his career that would change the history of motor vehicles forever. At 29 years old, Carroll Shelby decided to transform his passion of automobile racing into a vocation.
Extremely gifted, Shelby quickly attracted attention. Over the years he raced for MG, Cadillac, Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin on some of the most famous American and European racetracks. France played an important role in his career as a driver where he participated in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix. Additionally he achieved his most impressive victory at the 24 Hours in Le Mans in 1959.
Just after the 24 Hours, unfortunately for the talented Shelby, he was diagnosed with a heart problem that made it impossible for him to continue his career as a driver. The Texan decided to take on a new challenge; that of developing an American race-car capable of dethroning the Ferrari 250 GTO.
In order to be competitive with the invincible Italian armada, Shelby decided that the best strategy would be to go with the combination of a super light frame with an over sized motor. Most importantly, he incorporated a higher low end torque in order to be more efficient on the race track. Being lightweight wasn’t really the norm as far as American cars were considered during this period. Shelby was in need of inspiration. His inspiration came from an AC Bristol, which was an elegant little British roadster reserved for the spoiled upper class youngsters as they strutted their stuff around London’s high rent districts.
The little English car’s chassis was one of a kind; composed of a 3 inch frame in diameter. Thankfully it was very strong and could handle a large amount of torque, because it wasn’t long before Shelby replaced the Bristols’ nice little 6 cylinder 2 liter with a gigantic 4,2 liter Ford V8! The car’s new performance deserved a new name. Thus the AC Bristol became the AC Cobra, the most mystic car made its way into the 20th century!
As soon as it was released in 1962 the AC Cobra 260 shined under the international spotlight thanks to its fantastic results in competitions all over the world. Encouraged by promising results, Shelby continued to push the limits. As the axel width became larger, the motor block became increasingly voluminous and outrageously unreasonable! In 1963, the snake charmer brought the Cobra 289 to life with its 4,7 liters and horsepower of 360. Out came the Cobra 427 in 1965 with a V8 of 7 liters and the horsepower at 485. The bodybuilding session came to a peak in 1966, with the most venomous of Cobras, the Cobra 427 « Super Snake » weighing 1050 kilos, a 7 liter V8 with a double compressor that developed… 800HP!
A few years have gone by since 1966. Here we are in the early 2000s in the south of France. Somewhere outside of Montpellier, an engineer designer passionate about muscle-cars developed a prototype of a modern day Café Racer baptized with an unpronounceable yet original name. The name came from the Lakota Indian language and signified “sacred” and “un-seizable”. A motorcycle that wore its name well due to a lack of good business practices that led to the total production of about a dozen product examples. For even the most motivated clients the bike was sacredly “un-seizable”! The lack of visibility coupled with the first wave of economic crisis forced that little company to close indefinitely in 2011.
A two wheeled AC Cobra. When French manufacturer Cédric Klein (specialized in developing innovative thermodynamic systems) heard of the inevitable closure of the company responsible for this exceptional motorcycle, he dreamt of buying the company and continuing the quest. Klein had been following this small company since its creation and didn’t hesitate for long before completely liquidating his activities to save the concept. He decided to buy the plans and patents, put together a team of experts, and push the limits of the machine even further. Much like his team, Klein is a great admirer of the AC cobra. He transformed the British style Café Racer into a muscle-bike with Texas hot sauce which was a true reinterpretation of Shelby’s Cobra if on 2 wheels.
Like the AC Cobra, it’s elegant fluid lines give it a unique design.
Like the AC Cobra, its light and compact frame’s short wheel base and low center of gravity provides a precise driving experience.
Like the AC Cobra, the frame is 3 inches in diameter.
Like the AC Cobra, Andrews builds the gearbox.
Like the AC Cobra, the exhaust has been left visible.
Like the AC Cobra, this muscle-bike accelerates outrageously and unreasonably at 0,79HP/kg.
This muscle-bike shares other details with the Cobra; like its 2/3-scale headlight, its machined aluminium rims, its gas cap, and even the classic Shelby stripes on the body. If that wasn’t enough, the proportions of the air Vortec are similar, the seat and rear match those of the AC Cobra. Finally, the last detail linking this muscle-bike to the legendary American muscle car is its Vortec which is the air intake located on the top of where you’d have a single fuel tank on most bikes. We tip our hats to the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Charger 7 in regards to this feature.
Cédric Klein then put into place a personalization program, inspired by the French “haute couture”. This system allows each owner to choose the elements that best correspond to his or her dream which makes each and every bike one of a kind. The only thing missing was of course a name… These exceptional Muscle-bikes were baptized with the name… Avinton.
Another interesting coincidence occurred on March 31st 2012 involving both sides of the Atlantic. At the New York Auto Show, Carroll Shelby lifted the curtain on his last creation, a coupé with 1100HP and a torque of 1152 Nm, the Mustang GT 1000 “Super Snake”. At 89 years old, Shelby once more took everyone’s breath away, and gave a famously insolent wink to all of those that thought that the future of the automobile would be all about down sizing… electric motors or green… junk.
The very same day on the other side of the pond, Avinton Motorcycles was introduced to the public for the first time at the Castellet Race Track, during the « Sunday Ride Classic » event. On May 10th 2012, the world lost a legend. The same heart problem that forced Shelby to put an end to his career as a race car driver finally caught up with him. He died peacefully at his home in Texas, leaving behind his 3 creations that are among the five most emblematic of the 20th century : the Cobra, the Ford GT40 and the Ford Mustang. On that same day in France, the first Avinton was delivered to its owner, and orders for Avinton Motorcycles started pouring in. The story of the Muscle-bike begins a new chapter of the legend out of its inspiration past down from the great Muscle-cars of America.
Is this some simple coincidence or is it a symbolic right of passage? Time will tell… So what about this “sacredly invisible” prototype in our story? We’ve named it the « Collector GT » which proudly assumes the first role in the product line of Avinton Motorcycles and will always be featured in the catalogue. Without a memory of the past, no legend can continue into its future.