Carrol Shelby was one of the most important characters in the history of the American motor industry. His fame arose from his career as a driver and then from that as an able entrepreneur who was responsible for some of the best-known ‘Made in USA’ vehicles. At the top of the list, the Cobra – his masterpiece and something which can be regarded as an American icon.
After winning the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1959, Shelby discovered that he had a congenital heart problem. As a result, he withdrew from competition and devoted himself to creating Shelby-American, the car manufacturer which, in 1962, would go on to produce the Cobra.
The vehicle brought together Shelby himself, the British car company AC Cars, which produced the body and chassis, and Ford, supplier of the powerful V8 engine. The result was an extremely agile, fast and, above all, powerful roadster. Thus began the AC Cobra brand.
The Company launched its successful racing career immediately by winning numerous American races, culminating in 1965 with the victory of the ‘Shelby Daytona’ coupé version in the World Sportscar Championship.
Different variants of the basic model were produced over the years, ranging from the earliest model of 4.3 litres and 260 HP and reaching the competition 1965 model of 7 litres and 492 HP.
Production of this celebrated vehicle ceased in 1967 and AC Cobra was wound up shortly afterwards. Shelby himself died in 2012, after he had seen the market value of ‘his’ Cobra rise to astronomic levels.
The model shown in the photographic gallery (with the CSX2001 chassis) is the first car produced and the first to enter a competition. After a successful racing career in Europe, it was acquired by the important collector Bruce Meyer, founding chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, whose cars are frequently exhibited there.
Los Angeles, April 2017