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Shelby Cobras Take Center Stage at Monterey

In honor of automotive pioneer, Carroll Shelby, every event during Pebble Beach Car Week offered a tribute showing of Shelby Cobras.  The grandest tribute was at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

This is one of the things which makes automobiles so alluring… look what started with a talented driver who was convinced he could conceive a better racecar.   Carroll Shelby wrote a letter to the undaunted English AC Cars, Ltd., upon hearing the AC Bristol was about to lose their engine source in 1961.  He had raced against the AC Aces and felt this was a car he could combine with an American V8.  Ford was interested and the rest is history. This is number one, the number one Shelby Cobra, owned by Carroll Shelby until earlier this year.  Here we have the first production Cobra.  Originally built as a street car but sent to Le Mans where it was updated to FIA specs by Ford Racing of Europe.  The first Cobra to ever win a race was this roadster. Now they were serious, a factory team Shelby racecar, driven by racing legend Dan Gurney.  This Sebring Cobra Roadster was one of two built for the renown 1963 race.  Sporting the iconic blue with white stripes, the “Fliptop” Cobra was the first of the Cobras fitted with a “big block.”   From here began the Cobra 427 competition cars. “We knew, plus or minus, what capabilities of the Ferrari were, and we knew we would beat it. I knew that, if I could get the Daytona Coupe Ferrari wouldn’t be in business.” — Carroll Shelby.  Driven by Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant and others, this car won the 24 Hours of Le MansThis Cobra 289 DragonSnake is the only factory-built customer DragonSnake ever sold.  USRRC Cobra Roadster Extremely rare Cobra Factory Built 427. Many have tried and failed, had limited success or got stuck in the process.  Carroll Shelby succeeded in building one of the most coveted and iconic cars ever created.

How about some Cobra tidbits?

  • Only 65 of the 655 Cobra Chassis built as small-blocks were factory-built competition models.
  • Two types of competition cars: those built for Shelby factory team and those built by the factory and sold to private owners.  Retired team cars were later sold a racecars.
  • Only six Cobra Daytona Coupes were built.
  • There were only 998 Cobra Chassis produced between 1962 and 1967 – this is all.

So why do we see so many driving down the street if so few were built?  As one of the most popular kit cars (when I was a kid my dad and I talked of building one) most of what you see are faux-bras.  Faux, fake, replicas, pretenders or whatever else one might call them.   Is copying the sincerest form of flattery?


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