Combining the power of Ford’s short-stroke V8 with the nimbleness of AC’s sporting chassis, the Cobra was the most successful and most beautiful English-American hybrid. The project was motivated by ex Aston Martin team driver and Le Mans winner Carol Shelby with financial help from Ford.
Shelby American bought suitably modified Ace rolling chassis & trimmed bodies from AC Cars which were shipped to California where Shelby installed the Ford V8 engine, initially a 260ci before moving on to the newer, more efficient 289 unit.
Little development was needed and the Cobra started winning races almost immediately.
In 1964 a Cobra driven by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant won the GT class, beating all the Ferrari 250 GTOs and placed fourth overall at Le Mans. In the World Sportscar Championship Cobras were just beaten to the title by Ferrari and the following year the Daytona Cobra Coupés turned the tables and took the championship from Ferrari.
Original Shelby Cobras are rare but to find one such as CSX2289 that is still in absolutely unmolested, original street spec is probably unique.
The Shelby American Registry lists every Cobra ever built with a dossier on each car, for CSX2289 the entry reads:
Bright Blue/red interior, invoiced to Shelby American 1/10/64.
Shipped to L.A. aboard the SS Ablalasserdyk.
Painted wire wheels.
Cobra AM radio.
The Registry also revealed that CSX2289 was originally registered to Shelby American and used as their “PR” car, so this car will have been the basis for many contemporary newspaper, magazine articles and photographs.
The car was originally purchased by a Police officer in Santa Maria who was advised by the Department to sell the car or quit the force as he seemed to drive it a little too fast. Lester Heep purchased the car in 1966, drove it weekends and occasionally used it for Autocrosses and Slaloms with his wife, usually taking best time of the day unless Shelby driver Bob Johnson turned up in the works black Cobra.
In 1974 Heep sold it to Marshall Munger for $5,500 with about 28,000 miles on the clock, who later put it into storage in a purpose built garage in his yard where it stayed until he was persuaded to sell it in 2007.
Shortly after release from its garage CSX2289 was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the Preservation class and it was then sympathetically re-commissioned with all its original parts.