High bid of $710,000 at 2013 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
When presenters speak of cars they will often speak of a car's aesthetics and features, but they will also likely mention whether or not a car has 'soul'. AC Cars had built a wonderful, aesthetically-pleasing roadster powered by a Bristol straight-6 engine. However, it wasn't until Carroll Shelby came along and squeezed a Ford V8 engine into the car did it really receive its soul. And it would be this combination of aesthetics and soul that would please and terrify enthusiasts from then on.
Shelby's purpose of challenging the might of Ferrari seemed to be heading in either a wrong direction or became sidetracked when he decided to approach AC Cars with his idea. AC Cars had certainly produced a lovely roadster but it was far and away anything but modern. But, the car was straight-forward in its design and approach and that certainly seemed the perfect match for the straight-talking Shelby.
Shelby had a vision of what the car could be. And what that vision actually became was one thrilling, and yet, awfully scary ride. But, for the racer, it was to be like a dream that only get better.
The first prototype chassis, CSX0001, would be completed in early 1962. It would become known as the Cobra and the legend would be born. Less than a thousand of these Cobras would be ever made. But, while less than a thousand would make every Cobra ever made very special and very valuable, there are still some more special than others. And, one of those more special than others Cobras will be offered at the 2013 RM Auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Chassis CSX2032 would appear to be like just one of the few 289 cu.in. V8-engined Cobras built in 1962. However, just one perusal of the car's well-known history and, all of a sudden, the car takes on a whole new life.
Billed to Shelby American by AC Cars in October of 1962, which was just a little more than a week after the Cobra's first race, CSX2032 would arrive for final production, and then, would be delivered to its owner.
Purchased on the 2nd of January, 1963, CSX2032 wouldn't just be purchased by some nameless individual. In fact, it would be just the opposite. Appearing on the car's original invoice is the name Lance Reventlow.
To the uninitiated, Reventlow would still not even raise an eyebrow. However, as the only son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, his name now suddenly takes on a life all its own, just like the car he purchased in January of 1963.
Not in want for anything, Reventlow would be free to chase his passions, which, by the mid-1950s, included motor racing. He would get his start racing Formula 2 Coopers and would have his sights set on Formula One.
Surrounding himself with the best cars and the best teams, Reventlow would have an equally impressive list of friends in which he surrounded himself. He would even have a period in his life in which he would call the actor Cary Grant 'father'.
Like many racing drivers, the jet-setting, playboy lifestyle was routine for Reventlow. Dating models and associating with Hollywood elite, Reventlow would not struggle to find beautiful female companionship and would even marry the famed model/actress Jill St. John.
But for all of his playboy antics, Reventlow was also a very serious individual, especially when it came to racing. Although his time in Formula One would be worth forgetting, he would not let his passion for motorsports, or cars in general, ever wane. This would lead him to founding his Scarab racing concern. It would also lead him to purchase CSX2032.
Ironically, the purchase of CSX2032 would happen at his own garage. By 1962, Scarab had come to naught and the doors of the garage housing the team had been shuttered. However, he would then offer the building to Carroll Shelby, who had been located in Sante Fe Springs. Shelby would accept and would rent the building from Reventlow and would make the final preparations to Reventlow's own Cobra right there in his old factory.
It has been suggested the purchase of the Cobra by Reventlow had been a gesture of support for Shelby and his efforts to make his company go. However, the Cobra that would be delivered to Lance would be built with such unusual options that it was more than clear that it was all for him.
When delivered to Reventlow, the Cobra would be like no other. Given his racing background, Reventlow wasn't about to purchase a sedated model, if there even was a sedated model of the Cobra. Instead, he would have his Cobra based upon the competition Cobras, which meant the car would come with such updates as racing tires, a racing oil pan, an aluminum intake manifold, aluminum rocker covers, a roll bar, sway bars and even a competition ignition system. Therefore, in many ways, CSX2032 could have been considered an authentic team car.
However, since Reventlow had retired from motor racing, the car would not be a bare-bones Cobra. Instead, he would order a competition-inspired Cobra filled with such amenities and extras as one would expect from an owner looking for a grand tourer. When completed and delivered, the car would come complete with front and rear bumper guards, a sun visor, wind wings and even a chromed air cleaner. This was a car complete with performance and comfort.
In time, Reventlow would sell the Cobra. Then, it would appear on the showroom floor of SCU Lotus Central Foreign Cars in Michigan. Don Burgess would be next to own the Cobra. He would come to own the car in the early 1970s. Then, in 1974, the cars would change hands again. This time, Bill Kemper of Barrington, Illinois would own it. Kemper's ownership of the car would be brief, for by the end of the following year the car would be off to its next owner. However, the car would be on its way having had a number of authentic upgrades added to it, including a 289 cu.in. 'Hi-Po' engine.
Ron Ressman, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, would be the car's next owner. It would be during Ressman's period of ownership that CSX2032 would undergo its first restoration. This work would commence in 1978 and would be completed by Bill Murray of Longmont, Colorado.
Murray would take car of the Cobra's mechanical components but would also install a number of changes, including six-inch painted wire wheels, side pipe exhausts and side vents. Murray would also refinish the car in black, the same that graces the car to this very day.
Ownership would continue to change. Bill Hansen, Joe Rodman Jr. and John Prokell would all own the Cobra for a period of time. Then, in late-1993, CSX2032 would be offered for sale in Princeton, New Jersey. Herm Rosenman would take advantage of the opportunity and would become the car's next owner. By this time the car was a little more than 30 years of age. Therefore, Rosenman decided to shake it awake from its slumber by adding four twin-choke Weber carburetors to the engine. This boosted the power of the engine considerably.
In 1997, George Sicz of Winnipeg, Canada became the car's owner. The car would remain with Sicz for a short period of time and it would soon pass into the hands of Peter Klutt of Milton, Ontario. While in the possession of Klutt, CSX2032 would begin a process of being returned to its competition-inspired roots and, in fact, would take on the look and feel of racer later in its life than when Revetlow ordered it. Klutt would install Halibrand alloy racing wheels, competition-style fuel filler, front fender spats and even Raydyot competition mirrors. Then, out of homage to Dan Gurney's 1963 12 Hours of Sebring Cobra, the car would be refinished with yellow racing stripes.
For nearly a decade, CSX2032 would remain with Mr. Klutt. Then, in 2005, Richard Cohen would purchase the car. Just about a year would be the amount of time in which the car would be with Mr. Cohen before it would again be sold to its current owner.
Purchased by a serious Cobra enthusiast, CSX2032 has spent much of its life in careful storage and has been driven only a few miles. The work on the car continues, however, as the original sway bars have been reinstalled on the car. The car has also now been equipped with competition-style rotors and has had its frame cleaned and refinished.
Well documented and filled with an arresting history of ownership, CSX2032 is already amongst a rare collection of venomous performers. However, given its history, eclectic ownership and blend of comfort and performance, this particular Cobra is certainly one snake-charmer that isn't to be missed.
Heading to auction, the 1962 Shelby 'Factory Competition-Specification' Cobra, would be drawing estimates of between $750,000 to $950,000.Sources:
'Lot No. 150: 1962 Shelby 'Factory Competition-Specification' Cobra', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ13&CarID=r124). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ13&CarID=r124. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
'1962 Shelby Cobra News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/z18197/Shelby-Cobra.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/z18197/Shelby-Cobra.aspx. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
'May, 2012: 1962-1967 Shelby Cobra', (http://www.hemmings.com/hmn/stories/2012/05/01/hmn_buyers_guide1.html). Hemmings: The World's Largest Collector Car Marketplace. http://www.hemmings.com/hmn/stories/2012/05/01/hmn_buyers_guide1.html. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
'1962 Shelby CSX2000: The Original Cobra', (http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-reviews/road-tests/1962-shelby-csx2000-1). Road & Track. http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-reviews/road-tests/1962-shelby-csx2000-1. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
Wikipedia contributors, 'AC Cobra', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 January 2013, 14:32 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AC_Cobra&oldid=532544382 accessed 15 January 2013By Jeremy McMullen
The formula for the success of the Cobra came through a man named Carroll Shelby adapting a powerful Ford engine into a nimble, British sports car.
A.C. Cars of Thames Ditton in Surrey, England had been producing the Ace since 1954. It was designed by John Tojeiro and featured an independent suspension by transverse leaf springs. The tubular frame body of the vehicle took its styling cues from Ferrari. The original engine used in the Ace was a 1991 cc, over-head-cam engine designed by John Weller, the founder of AC, in the 1920s. In 1956, an optional Bristol engine became available. This was a BMW derived, 1971 cc six-cylinder engine that was capable of producing 125 horsepower. With the Bristol engine, the Ace captured many victories on the race tracks around the world. It even won the SCCA Class E championship three years in a row.
In 1959, Bristol ceased its six-cylinder engine production. When Bristol stopped supplying A.C. with the engine, the production of the Ace ceased. Carroll Shelby quickly negotiated a deal where A.C. would supply him with the chassis. Now all Shelby needed was an appropriate engine. In 1961, Ford introduced the 221 cubic-inch small block engine. This was a new lightweight, thin wall-cast, V8 engine that produced 164 horsepower. Shelby approached Ford about the use of the engine for the 2-seat sports car. Ford agrees.
In February of 1962, a 260 HiPo engine and Borg-Warner four-speed manual gearbox was fitted into the aluminum-bodied Cobras. The AC Shelby Ford Cobra was complete.
In April of 1962, the first Cobra with chassis CSX 2000 was painted yellow and shipped to the New York Auto Show where it appeared on the Ford display. The vehicle was an instant success and attracted much attention. Orders came faster than Shelby could build. The prototype CSX 2000 was continuously being repainted for magazine reviews. The purpose was to create an illusion that more Cobras existed.
In 1963 the engine size increased to 289 cubic-inches. Rack-and-pinion steering was added to the vehicle.
Two Cobras were entered into the grueling 24-Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Carroll Shelby himself drove one of the vehicles. Ford had refused to provide an engine so Shelby, with the help of A.C. cars and Ed Hugus, prepare the cars. One of the Cobras managed to capture a seventh place finish, a major accomplishment.
Dan Gurney became the first American driver to win an FIA race in an American car when he won the Bridgehampton 500KM race in September of 1963 while driving a Cobra.
In 1964, the Cobra returned to LeMans where it finished fourth overall and first in the GT class.
Near the end of 1964, the Cobra 427 was unveiled to the press. If featured a new tubular, aluminum body, coil spring chassis, and a 427 cubic-inch, 425 horsepower engine. The car was able to go from zero to 100 mph and back to zero in less than 14 seconds.
In 1967, the last 427 Cobra was built and in 1968, the last 427 Cobra was sold by Carroll Shelby.
Ford had shifted their resources to the new GT40 and modified Mustang programs. In 1966, three GT-40 Mark II's crossed the finish line at Le Mans capturing first, second, and third.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010