1964 Lang-Cooper Group 7
Year of manufacture1964
Number of seats2
The Ex-Craig Lang/Ed Leslie/Charlie Hayes
1964 Lang-Cooper II Group 7 Sports-Racing 'Super King Cobra'
Chassis no. CM1/64
Carroll Shelby's Cobra road and race cars were running well and achieving genuine commercial success by the end of 1963, prompting the Texan entrepreneur to take a tilt at the top-level US West Coast 'professional series' races at Kent, Riverside and Laguna Seca, using a Ford V8 racing engine in a genuine purpose-built rear-engined sports-racing chassis frame...
His people believed there was no margin left in the spidery Lotus 19 chassis frame of 1960 design, but had neither the time nor the capacity to build an alternative of their own. 'Ole Shel' promptly called John Cooper in England who agreed to supply at very short notice two Cooper Monaco rolling chassis and body assemblies, tailored to accept the Ford V8 engine and Colotti transaxle gearbox. These were all coil-spring-and-wishbone suspended cars which were stripped to bare frame and totally re-welded upon arrival in Venice, California ? Shelby American's headquarters.
Special over-sized radiators were rigged and 289 cubic inch ? 4.7-litre ? Ford V8 engines were prepared for the new cars. The Shelby crew led by Phil Remington with specialists Al Dowd and Pete Brock were more anxious about making the races than in niceties of finish, and with vertical stack-pipe exhausts poking through slots hacked in the rear deck the unpainted prototype car was tested briefly at Riverside by team driver Dave MacDonald, who promptly set the Californian desert circuit's fastest time that year.
The two new Cooper/Shelby Monaco-Fords were ready and running at Kent, Washington, driven by Davey MacDonald and his senior, Bob Holbert but both overheated. The big Riverside race then saw the two Shelby Coopers appear in Kingfisher blue and styled as 'King Cobras' for the first time. MacDonald powered away to win the 'Los Angeles Times' Grand Prix most comfortably, then won again in the associated Pacific Grand Prix event at Laguna Seca...
Into 1964 the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe cars intended to contest the FIA GT World Championship took precedence and the King Cobra Cooper-Fords took a back seat. However a customer car was completed at Venice for Craig Lang of the Olympia Brewery family from Seattle, a friend of Shelby and Dowd. Dave MacDonald raced this car in bright orange ? tangerine - livery at Phoenix, Riverside and Laguna early in the year, before Holbert took it out in practice at Kent, only to lose control on a ran-soaked track and destroy the car against others parked in the unguarded pit lane, burning himself painfully in the violent accident. MacDonald took over Holbert's originally assigned works car and won on race day, then left for the Indy 500-Miles, in which he would crash fatally.
Craig Lang had become part of the Shelby set-up at Venice, working with Al Dowd, Wally Peat, Joe Freitas and Dave MacDonald. When his 'King Cobra' or Lang-Cooper I was written-off in Holbert's Kent crash, Carroll Shelby called Cooper in England to provide a replacement chassis/body unit. John Cooper could only offer a bare chassis frame for which the Shelby crew would have to build their own body. Within days this fresh frame was delivered to Venice with Lang and Peat building it up into a complete car, to be bodied to a Pete Brock design by Californian specialist Don Edmunds. Pete Brock would recall: "I had just completed the drawings for another Shelby racer to be built in Italy with De Tomaso, the drawings for this car were quickly modified to fit the Cooper chassis. The design included a radical idea for the time ? a moveable rear wing. Edmunds...didn't believe in the idea and convinced Lang and Peat to build the car as simple as possible to save weight and untested complexity...".
Just as this new Lang-Cooper II car was completed MacDonald left on his ill-fated trip to Indy, and without his test and development capabilities the Lang crew were left high and dry with their brand-new car. Driver Ed Leslie was recruited, but he found the new Lang-Cooper II frankly "scary to drive". A fixed spoiler was adopted at the tail while Peat opted instead for more power, fitting a Chevrolet V8 engine in place of the Ford. Ed Leslie was a Ford man, so opted out of the programme, Lang replacing him with Charlie Hayes ? who also found the new car unstable at high speed. After a trip to the east coast in which the little team suffered an expensive engine failure, Craig Lang concluded that without Davey MacDonald racing wasn't much fun any more, and so he sold his striking looking tangerine-liveried Lang-Cooper II to Robert 'Skip' Scott, who raced it only once before investing instead in a customer Ford GT40.
In early 1966 he sold the Lang-Cooper II to Art 'Poppy' Seyler who raced the car at club level through the United States, enjoying very considerable success, having modified and updated the car's suspension with input from specialist Jerry Mong.
From Seyler the then car passed to a new owner in Augusta, Georgia, who planned to convert it into a high-performance street-legal machine. Over-harsh attempts to strip the paintwork caused considerable body damage ? the new owner lost interest and the car spent years abandoned under a tarpaulin outside his home, vandals causing further damage and stealing the specially-made wheels. In 1977 the car passed finally to a South Carolina scrap deal from whom it was rescued by Road & Track magazine contributor Bill Warner. He promptly commissioned ex-Ford and Lola fabricator Colin Day to restore the car to its original 1965 configuration.
A five-bolt high-power Ford 289 V8 engine was built for it by NASCAR specialists Roush Racing in Livonia, Michigan, and 'Alf Francis' ? the famous ex-Rob Walker Racing, ex-Colotti-Francis mechanic/engineer - provided a Colotti Type 37 transaxle gearbox. Wally Peat ? one of the car's original builders, of course ? designed new suspension uprights for the car and after some seven years' work ? in 1986 - Bill Warner began campaigning the restored car in American Vintage events. He sold the car in August 1989 to Pat Ryan and the car was displayed for some years in the Prisma Collection Museum, in Montgomery, Alabama. It was raced subsequently by Sam White, appearing in the Carroll Shelby Tribute at Laguna Seca during the 1997 Monterey Historic meeting. In late November 2003 the present vendor expressed his interest in acquiring the car from Mr Ryan. An agreement was reached and the present vendor then commissioned Peter Brock to lead a restoration embodying latest state-of-the-art aerodynamic modifications to achieve the high-speed stability this startling car had so long lacked.
The Lang-Cooper II finally re-emerged upon the public stage at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours ? winning several awards. Established driver John Morton then raced the car in the 2006 Monterey Historic meeting at Laguna Seca, taking second place in its class ? while at the associated Pebble Beach concours that weekend the Lang-Cooper II was honoured by the Ford Motor Company as being "the most beautiful Ford-engined car". In September 2006 this tangerine torpedo appeared in the Goodwood Revival Meeting in England, driven by Bernard Thuner, and it has since competed in several more world-class European Historic events. As such this vehicle is offered with FIA HTP dated 2007, along with a copy of the limited edition book on the car commisioned by the vendor and written by Ed Heuvink.
As presented here this absolutely striking 'Super King Cobra' is a wonderfully well-presented and extremely attractive rarity ? an absolute one-off with intimate links to the memory of Craig Lang, of Davey MacDonald, Ed Leslie and the unique band of like-minded brothers who so indelibly wrote the Shelby American legend some 50 years ago... We recommend it receives the very closest consideration...a wonderfully attractive proposition for any Historic race and/or concours organiser, and thereby a ticket to the world's most attractive relevant events...
Please note that should this vehicle remain in the UK local import taxes of 5% will be added to the hammer price.