Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Mighty Cobra Daytona Coupes - ‘Ol Shell makes good on His promise...


45yrs ago: It just hit me like a Ton ‘O Bricks! That was a (somewhat) Long-long-time ago... As this is another ‘Juan of the myriad ‘O stories stuck in the (NFWHV) No Fenders Wormhole Vortex; having been reminded ‘bout it once again just before leaving for Indy... As the night before I seemed to catch the No. 3 wire, (Tailhook) Err tail end of another Hot Rod TV episode, (SPEED Channel) where they were having to put the Superformance GT40 thru its paces... Even having some ‘Ol Codger known as ‘Bondo on hand, as in the legendary Bob Bondurant...

And speakin’ about Bondurant, while I don’t think much fanfare was made over it this summer, nevertheless on July 4th, 1965 – at the Reims du 12 hours (International) Sports Car race, Messer Bondurant and Co-driver Jean Schlesser drove the winning Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2601 ) to capture the FIA World GT Manufacturer’s Championship. Which has only been done once ever in History by an American manufacture ... As after "il Commendatore” (Enzo Ferrari) coyly had the final race at Monza, Italy cancelled in 1964, in order to ensure that his Scuderia Ferrari would win the World GT Championship Crown for a third year in-a-row; ‘Ol Carroll uttered some of his most immortal words: “Next year your ASS is Mine!” (Enzo...) As Shelby was more determined then ever to defeat Ferrari, which he did on numerous occasions with the help of the mighty “FoMoCo,” a.k.a. Ford Motor Company...

Some where’s in true internetz folklore fashion... I thought I read that Pink Floyd percussionist Nick Mason had shelled out $12m in order to obtain one of the very rare Ferrari 250GTO’s... Of which I know very little ‘bout this most magnificent automobile. Although I’ve now read that only 39 examples were produced between 1962-64, with the bulk being built between 1962-63 when a total of 36 “Series I” examples were constructed. While a further three “Series II” chassis were produced afterwards, with a further few original spec chassis being upgraded to the latter version in ’64.

Interestingly, the GT rules at the time called for 100 examples to be produced for racing Homologation, of which Enzo cleverly managed to avoid by leaving large serial number gaps in the cars production run – along with all sorts of other chicanery I imagine... As I’m assuming ‘Ol Shel beat Enzo at his own game by successfully rebodying already Homologated Cobra Roadsters; as I must confess this is one of the prettiest sounding Ferrari’s I’ve ever heard pounding ‘round at various Historics venues around the globe – with its sewing machine smooth sounding silky three liter V-12 engine melodically motivated thru its six twin draft Weber Carburetors and fire engine red crackling rosso valveheads...

Ultra-rare 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO up for sale by RM Auctions... will it set a record?

Meanwhile, today – exactly forty-five years ago... Another American legend named Craig Breedlove gave the Cobra Daytona Coupe its last moments of glory, by setting some 23 International speed records behind the wheel of CSX2287 - before the six Daytona Coupes were sold off piecemeal at bargain basement prices... As little did Shelby know they’d become so extremely desirable some 30-40-50 years later... (Have you tried buying a “REAL” Shelby Daytona Coupe lately?) As CSX2287 probably has the strangest past of the six Daytona Coupes... With perhaps the most important pedigree, as not only was it the original Prototype chassis, but the only one produced in America. Yet after the car changed hands a few times; reputedly being “Dumped” by thee Phil Spectre over fears of his incurring too many speeding tickets when he used it as a ‘Daily Driver in Hollywood... It mysteriously vanished for two decades before finally being unearthed after the reclusive female owner committed suicide!

The Missing Daytona

Thus, as you’re Humble Scribe frequently mentions; as Time Flies By! Its hard to fathom that its already been a decade and a half since I attended the Cobra Daytona Coupes 30th Anniversary celebration as the featured marque at the 1995 Mollie Stones Historics in sleepy ‘Ol Sonoma, CA, which some out ‘Dar in BloggerLand like to call Snorhoma... As I had the good fortunes of seeing four of the six Daytona Coupes on static display and still have two vivid memories of said event.

The first was witnessing ‘Bondo replete in his original Cobra Team Jacket signing an autograph for ‘Juan of the masses atop the roof of one of these priceless relics... While the most searing memory of that event was the Oh So Delectable Soundtrack of Messer bondurant doing a few solo demonstration laps behind the keyboard of one of these vintage beasts! As ‘Bondo serenely toured the Wine Country Classic during lunchtime with NOBODY else Ontrack and it was sheer ecstasy listening to the booming 289cid small block V-8 lump resonate over the Sears Point Raceway grounds!

The six Daytona Coupes in numerical order are chassis numbers: CSX2286, CSX2287, CSX2299, CSX2300, CSX2601 and CSX2602. While the “Type 65” or 427 Super Coupe is known as CSB3054. Which I’ve seen at Portland way back in the early 1990’s...

You can read all about these magnificent Cobra’s in the Great Cobra Daytona Coupes (523pages) book penned by the Car’s designer Peter Brock; click here.


As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve just had History slap me in the face once more by having the good fortune of viewing the rosso N.A.R.T. Ferrari 250LM that won the 1965 24 Heurs du Mans at the IMS Hall of Fame museum whilst attending this year’s MotoGP event...

As finally the FIA saw the light and put a stop to Il Commendatore’s shenanigans, as Enzo had tried vainly to claim the 250LM was simply a continuation of the 250GTO model, to which the FISA said NO ENZO! You’ll have to race it as a Prototype instead of in the GT Class, which in some regards shrank in stature as both Ferrari and Ford focused upon the ultimate prize of winning Le Mans overall which required the pursuits of utilizing Prototypes instead. As although Ford had brought its still fairly new GT40 once again to the Circuit de la Sarthe, it was the unexpected No. 21 piloted by Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory that won the race instead... Although it’s worth noting that the Daytona Coupe with Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant won the GT Class and were fourth overall at Le Mans in ’64, while a Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant example ran as high as third overall in ’65 before retiring after 15hrs with clutch failure...

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