1963 Shelby Cobra289 Cobra Works
Year of manufacture1963
- One of three Shelby 289 Works Cobras built to “Sebring” specifications
- Driven by Ken Miles and Bob Bondurant to nine podium finishes in 1963
- Entered in SCCA competition by privateers from 1964 until 1966
- Retained by the same owner from 1968-2011
- Documented in the Shelby American Registry and many marque publications
- Benefits from an award-winning restoration completed in 1997
- Presented in its period-correct 1963 Shelby American Ken Miles #98 livery
By 1961, Carroll Shelby had established his reputation as a racing driver and was just beginning his efforts as a constructor. Impressed by the combined agility and power of borrowed Cad-Allards, he set out to create the ultimate Anglo-American hybrid. AC Cars of Thames Ditton, England provided a nimble tubular frame and aluminum body in their Ace, highly reputed for its dexterity on European circuits. Shelby then persuaded Ford to furnish their new short-stroke 260-cubic-inch engine to complete the perfect union. The Shelby Cobra prototype, CSX 2000, was completed in February 1962 and heavily campaigned across the United States for press events through its unveiling at the New York International Auto Show.
The end of 1962 brought major revisions which rendered the Cobra into its third, and most illustrious form to which the model owes its revered status. Now utilizing rack-and-pinion steering and Ford’s new 289-cubic-inch V-8, the 289 Cobra harnessed the perfect balance of handling and raw power for the lightweight chassis.
Two of these first rack-and-pinion 289 Cobras produced in early 1963 were designated as “Sebring”-specification Works chassis for the Shelby factory racing team (CSX 2128 and 2129). This duo joined a non-rack-and-pinion “Sebring” car, CSX 2127, and immediately proved worthwhile exhibitors for the model’s superior tractability. This early trio of 289 “Sebring” Cobras were at the core of Shelby’s efforts which earned sales and race podiums in equally rapid measure.
WORKS COBRA CSX 2129
CSX 2129, offered here, is the second of those two rack-and-pinion “Sebring”-specification Cobras, and is arguably one of the most important, and well documented extant Shelby examples available. In March 1963, it was invoiced to Shelby American by AC Cars and delivered to Shelby’s Venice, California location shortly thereafter. By late May, the car had been completed to “Sebring” specifications which included a 289 engine with Weber carburetors and four-speed manual transmission, auxiliary instrumentation, black roll bar, hood scoop, flared fenders, Halibrand magnesium wheels, Raydot mirrors, side-exit exhaust, auxiliary oil coolers, competition brakes, improved suspension components, quick-jack pads, and a riveted hood. The car was notably finished in a bright red exterior and black interior without the prominent “elbow cut” doors found on the other Works chassis.
In what would become an unprecedented year for Shelby, CSX 2129 competed through the 1963 USSRC season at the hand of Bob Bondurant and, predominantly, Ken Miles. Perhaps its most notable entry came on 7 July at Kansas’ Lake Garnett Raceway, a day which featured car’s first podium, first victory, and evidently—a supremely fitting exhibition of the Cobra’s character.
Prior to the A-Production class race, SCCA officials demanded the removal of CSX 2129’s oil cooler; Miles reluctantly complied and thusly secured 3rd overall behind two additional Cobras. Miles then returned to the race officials, inquiring as to whether he could refit the oil cooler for entry to the C-Modified class. With similar reluctance on their behalf, the SCCA marshals acquiesced to Miles’ request, and CSX 2129 then handily secured its first outright victory. To cap off this tremendous outing, the Shelby team was notified that Miles’ best lap of 1:47.2 was a new course record!
Numerous class victories and pole positions marked CSX 2129’s successful 1963 season playing a major role in Shelby America’s win of the USRRC Manufacturer’s Championship, USRRC Driver’s Championship and an SCCA Championship. From its 1963 debut at Pensacola on 26 May, to Mosport on 28 September, CSX 2129 earned nine podiums (all with Ken Miles) across fifteen races, five of which came while racing under the Shelby livery as a factory entry.
On 20 December 1963, Shelby American sold the car to privateer Graham Shaw, with whom it would see tremendous success through the 1964 SCCA season. After earning its last podium finish at Bridgehampton on 30 May, Shaw traded CSX 2129 back to Shelby American, and later that summer it was displayed at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
FROM THE TRACK TO THE SHOW FIELD
After passing through the hands of several Southern California SCCA members between late 1964 and 1966, in early 1967 this desirable Works Cobra was acquired by Bruce Goldsmith of Beverly Hills. Goldsmith thusly fitted a new interior and replacement HiPo short block. Goldsmith reportedly salvaged all of the usable, original Shelby components for the engine rebuild. In 1968, Goldsmith sold this now-restored Cobra to Thomas Long of Hemet California, with whom it would remain until 2011.
For many years, Long used CSX 2129 as his daily transportation, until late 1984, when the body was stripped to its bare aluminum. Earlier fiberglass amendments to its front bodywork—undoubtedly provided during its racing career—were thusly excised and replaced with aluminum, where required. Now covered in a dark blue exterior, CSX 2129 was lightly used and exhibited for the next decade. In 1995—realizing its tremendously increased value and historical importance—Long commissioned a complete and meticulous restoration of CSX 2129 from noted Cobra authority Mike McCluskey of Torrance, California.
McCluskey faithfully returned this preeminent factory team Cobra to its 1963 Ken Miles #98 Works livery and factory-correct specifications. Presented wearing this stunning restoration, CSX 2129 has since been exhibited to great fanfare at some of the world’s most exclusive and discerning concours. Between 1997 and 2011, Long took the car to the Monterey Historic Races and multiple SAAC Club events. By July 2005, McCluskey’s work had proven to be an award-winning effort when CSX 2129 was bestowed with a Gold Award in the Cobra concours-class at SAAC in Fontana, California.
Acquired from Long in 2011, CSX 2129 has continued its careful exhibition schedule over the past decade. Highlights of the car’s 2012 schedule include the Goodwood Revival, Salon Privé London, and that year’s Shelby-focused Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Other notable appearances include the 2014 Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Greystone Concours d’Elegance, and the Chantilly Concours d’Elegance in 2015. Almost all of these exhibitions resulted in awards-recognition for this supremely significant Cobra.
This unique 1963 Shelby 289 Works Cobra is now accompanied by an extensive history file, binder of historic imagery, service invoices, racing windshield, Shelby literature, and multiple exhibition awards.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo21.