DETROIT – Daisy has bloomed into the latest addition to a performance bouquet alongside the Ford GT and all-new Mustang.

Daisy is the codename for the Ford Shelby Cobra concept, developed with the aid of Carol Shelby, himself, and unveiled here at the North American International Auto Show with the racing legend on hand.

The prototype, which Shelby put through the paces at the track recently, had to be touched up for the show as the paint blistered a good 4 ins. (10 cm) above the dual exhaust tips, says Richard Hutting, chief designer-Ford Design California.

The fully engineered concept easily was doing 100 mph (162 km/h), says Hutting, with every confidence it can meet its projected potential speed of 195 mph (314 km/h).

Ford unveils the Shelby Cobra concept.

Its naturally aspirated (no superchargers or turbochargers) aluminum-block 6.4L V-10 puts out 605 hp and 501 lb.-ft (679 Nm) of torque. The engine is based on the 5.4L Triton V-8 and takes the Cobra from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under four seconds.

“This is no bubblegum and paperclip concept,” says J Mays, group vice president-design, of the prototype inspired by the 427 Cobra of the 1960s and developed in five months.

The mid-engine roadster with powerful bulges over 19-in. rear wheels hits 98 mph (158 km/h) in second gear and 138 mph (222 km/h) in third, says Hutting of the 6-speed 2-seater. “In theory, it has the potential to do over 260 mph (418 km/h).”

The lightweight vehicle – just over 3,000 lbs. ( 1,361 kg) – runs on race gas – not regular gas – for that race smell.

The car drew heavily from the GT (codenamed Petunia), especially the spaceframe and suspension. It uses the same transaxle.

But the modern version of Shelby’s original classic car from the ’60s remains true in that it has no roof or side glass (or cupholders or radio).

Should it go into production, Ford will consult with Shelby on perhaps a bimini or bikini top for the driver who gets caught in the rain, says Chris Theodore, Ford vice president-advanced product creation.

It would not be a conventional top, Theodore stresses. Roll-up windows also might be added.

Officials say the production-ready vehicle will be built if the public response is as strong as anticipated – similar to the public clamor that put the GT into production.

“Two years ago, we showed the GT as a concept, and one year later we said we would produce it,” says Mays. “Last year we showed the Mustang as a concept, and now we’re producing almost the identical car. You do the math.”

A production model would have alternative engines, says Jim O’Connor, Ford group vice president-North America marketing, sales and service, without elaborating as to what they would be.

“Carol has come home to Ford,” says Chairman Bill Ford Jr., stressing “Ford Motor Co. was born on a race track.”

Shelby’s recollection: “Forty years ago I came here a broken down ex-race car driver and said, ‘Mr. Ford, I’d like to be part of your family.’ Forty years later, I stand before you.”

And his signature is on the firewall of the engine compartment in the concept that bears his name.

Mays says the Cobra could be just the beginning for Ford and Shelby. “I see this as the tip of the iceberg as far as the relationship goes,” he says. “I don’t see anything to preclude us from doing other Shelbys.”

apriddle@primediabusiness.com