1963 Shelby Cobra 289

A.C. Cars, Ltd., was a boutique British automaker whose heritage dates to 1908 when they were manufacturers of small delivery vehicles (the A.C. initials are from Auto Carrier). In the 1920s the company got into sports cars and after World War II, there was a sports hiatus until the introduction of the Ace in 1954. It was built on a new tube-frame chassis with all-independent suspension by Joh Tojeiro. From 1956, A.C.'s own engines were supplemented with outsourced units from Bristol and Ford of England.

A Texas chicken farmer turned racing driver named Carroll Shelby approached A.C. about installed American V8 engines into the Ace chassis. Shelby had initially planned on using Chevrolet's small-block engine, but General Motors had turned him down, perhaps due to concerns over competition from the Corvette. In October of 1961, Shelby learned of Ford's new small-block slated for introduced in the 1962 intermediate Fairlane model. A.C's Charles Hurlock expressed interest in the proposition and Ford was eager to do business with Shelby for the exact reasons that Chevrolet declined.

Shelby's racing career had come to an end after only eight years of successful motor racing, including the first overall for Aston Martin in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. Shelby had been forced to think about retirement due to being diagnosed with a heart condition. After his retirement, he pursued new interests including drilling wildcat oil wells and started a Texas trucking company. In 1961 he became the west coast Goodyear Racing tire distributor and formed a motor racing school at Riverside Raceway in California.

With a steady stream of cash, Shelby was able to pursue the long-held dream of building his own sports car. With his experience from racing, Shelby knew what did and did not work. America-built cars typically had ample horsepower while the European cars had superb brakes and handling. The hybrid sports car had been proven on numerous occasions, including the Nash-Healey, Cunninghams, and Allards. Shelby considered using chassis from several European manufacturers, including Jensen, Bristol, and Austin-Healey, but when A.C. had lost their engine supplier after Bristol ceased production, Shelby seized the opportunity.

A 221 cubic-inch engine was installed in a stock AC Ace and weighed just a few more pounds than the six-cylinder Bristol. Ford engineer Dave Evans provided Shelby with more good news, informing him that a high performance 260 cubic-inch version was already in production for Ford's Falcon and two engines would soon be delivered to his workshop. The engines were sent via airfreight overseas, and Shelby flew to England on February 1, 1962, to test drive the new Shelby Ford 'Cobra.'

The 260 CID V8 offered 260 horsepower and was backed by a Borg-Warner four-speed transmission. Zero-to-sixty mph was accomplished in 4.2 seconds, with a 13.8-second quarter mile at 112 mph and a top speed of 153 mph at Riverside International Raceway, all in 1962. The first 75 examples were powered by the 260-cubic inch motor, followed by the 289 Windsor V-8. In racing configuration, the engine offered 370 horsepower and weighed just 2,020 pounds, which was 500 less than the Corvette.

On February 2, 1963, Dave MacDonald scored the first Cobra victory at Riverside, outpacing a field of Corvettes, Jaguars, Porsches, and Maseratis.

Changes and improvements were made continuously including replacing the worm and sector steering that caused unpredictable steering geometry changes. Shelby's chief engineer Phil Remington and A.C. Cars chief engineer Alan Turner made a comprehensive design change to the front end, incorporating the new rack and pinion system while maintaining the transverse leaf suspension. Designated as Mark II cars, they entered production in early 1963 and continued until 1965.

The Mark III cars were introduced in 1965 and came with a new chassis built using 4-inch main chassis tubes, an increase of 1-inch over the prior setup, and coil springs all around. They had a larger radiator opening, wider fenders to accommodate wider wheels, and powered by the 'side oiler' Ford 427 cubic-inch FE engine equipped with a single 4-barrel 780 CFM Holley carburetor rated at 425 horsepower.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2020

Related Reading : Shelby Cobra History

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....
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1963 Vehicle Profiles

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2129

In 1963, the Shelby Cobra team was threatening Ferrari in international competition and was thoroughly dominating the Corvette just about everywhere else. Shelby wanted to create and build what he called a 'Corvette-Beater'. The AC Cobras would do th....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Carroll Shelby helped forge the motor racing link between the United States and Europe. He began as an accomplished racing driver who showed Europeans that Americans were not confined to oval tracks, became a driver for a European Formula One team, ....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2060

The AC Car Company in England began building sports cars in the mid-1950s. In 1962 the AC, Shelby America, and Ford Motor Companies formed a partnership to build sports/race cars for the American market. The AC Company shipped cars without engines ....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

LeMans Coupe

Chassis Num: CSX 2142

This 1963 AC Shelby Cobra 289 with chassis number CSX 2142 is one of two Cobra Roadsters to race by the factory at the 1963 LeMans race. The sister car was a right-hand drive example. Both of the cars had semi-fastback alloy hardtops and this was t....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2122

CSX2122 was among the first 200 Cobras produced at AC Cars, Ltd. under the newly agreed contract with Shelby America. It is painted in Princess Blue metallic paint and was shipped From AC Cars, Ltd. to Shelby's Los Angeles headquarters on May 2nd of....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

This Cobra is the last of the 'LeMans' series of competition cars. It was built during the fall of 1963, with the first Daytona Coupe. It has been raced every year from 1963 through 2005, except when it was being restored. It has never been driven on....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2085

It is rare to find a car that has been street-driven and raced in as many forms of competition as this Cobra. CSX 2085 was initially shipped to Ford in Dearborn and originally bought by Jacques Passino for $5,182. The car was shipped off to Californi....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2178

CSX2178 was factory Vineyard Green with a Beige interior, as it is today, but at one stage in its life both changed. It was originally delivered on the Shelby transporter to the Ford Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio as a promotional vehicle to be ret....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2253

CSX2253, a 'leaf-spring' 289 Cobra Roadster, was originally White with Black interior and sold by Theodore Robins Ford of Newport Beach, CA. The first owner was a Los Angeles doctor who soon traded it for a 427. The original 289 motor was somehow sei....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2100

In the United Kingdom, the source of the chassis and body, the car is known as an AC Cobra; in the rest of the world, a Shelby Cobra. AC Cars of Thames Ditton, Surrey built Roadsters from 1961 through 1967 in various versions. This Cobra 289 is a Mar....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2167

CSX 2167 is a 1963 289 Cobra Mark II with 30,500 original miles. It was shipped to Shelby American in Los Angeles on August 30th of 1963, aboard the SS Loch Garth. The car left the factory with options that included whitewall tires and a luggage rack....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2048

CSX2048 is an early small-block Cobra. It is factory-finished in red and black, the same colors as today. It was invoiced to Shelby American on November 13th of 1962 and shipped to Los Angeles. Factory documents recorded that it was refinished in a c....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2128

A factory Shelby team car, this roadster was memorialized in the song 'Hey Little Cobra.' The Shelby was driven by Dan Gurney, Ken Miles, Lew Spencer, Allen Grand and others. Most recognized as one of two Cobras built for the 1963 Sebring race, it on....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2034

This is a 260-cubic-inch Cobra Roadster wearing chassis number CSX2034. It was invoiced to Shelby American on 10/22/62. On 11/30/62 it was inoiced to tasca Ford (E. Providence, RI) for $4,995 with a heater which cost an additional $65. It is not clea....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2044
Engine Num: 3011B-524

This Cobra was built to the specifications to accept a 260 motor. By the time they were ready to install an engine, they were ready to start production with the 289 that would come to define the Cobra. ....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2119
Engine Num: 1296

Chassis number CSX2119 was invoiced to Shelby American on April 30th of 1963. It was finished in Vineyard Green over a beige interior. It was shipped to Los Angeles on May 2nd aboard the Loch Avon. After completion at Shelby American in August of 196....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2023

Shelby American produced 654 small-block Cobras from 1962 through 1965, including 579 289-powered cars and 75 of the earliest cars with the 260 engine. This particular example is the 23rd Cobra built. It was billed to Shelby American on October 1, 19....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2188

The first V-8 Carroll Shelby fitted into the AC chassis was a 221 cubic-inch unit. This was followed by a 260 cubic-inch engine, then a 289 CID, and finally the 427 CID. The 289 CID V8 offered 306 brake horsepower resulting in the perfect balance of ....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Who would have thought that a chicken farmer from Texas would go on to create one of the most revered and recognized automobiles and nameplates ever produced. Well, that is exactly what Carroll Shelby did back in the early 1960s.....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2075

Francis Ford Motors of Portland, Oregon, delivered Shelby Cobra no. CSX 2075 to its original owner, Chet McFallo. McFallo immediately converted the car into ' Dragonsnake' specification, making it more suitable for the drag-strip than the circuit tra....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2149

This Shelby 289 Cobra is the 149th example produced. It was shipped to Shelby American in July of 1963 and finished in off-white with a red leather interior and Class 'A' accessories, including a luggage rack, for a total price of $5,415.50. It was t....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2095

This Shelby Cobra 289 arrived in Los Angeles in the spring of 1963 and was invoiced to Coventry Motors of Walnut Creek, California, in June of that year. Its first owner is unknown. By April of 1972, it was in the care of Robert C. Able of Eugene, Or....[continue reading]

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 2125

This 1963 Shelby Cobra is the last worm and sector steering box car created before the move to rack and pinion. Originally sold to Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, on July 31, it is unclear if the car ever shipped to Ford, as the invoice was....[continue reading]

Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2129 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2060 
LeMans Coupe
Chassis #: CSX 2142 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2122 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2085 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2178 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2253 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2100 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2167 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2048 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2128 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2034 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2044 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2119 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2023 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2188 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2075 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2149 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2095 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 2125 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Shelby
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)4,451
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)3,225
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)2,378
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Ford (2,170,795)Volkswagen (1,174,687)
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)

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