Arizona greets the finest collector cars in the world each January, and for those buyers on the hunt for fresh metal to fill the garage, that’s good news. Nearly all of the collector cars that descend on the Scottsdale area are for sale at one of the many auction venues in the area.
Two stand-outs expected at the 2008 sales include a pair of very special Shelby products: the first Shelby AC Cobra sold to the public (a 1963 model) and one of the original 1966 Ford CS500 Super Duty trucks used to haul Cobras to race tracks around the country during the Cobra’s heyday.
Although each bears the Shelby name, these very different vehicles are prime examples of the variety of vehicles that are available at Arizona in January. RM Auctions, which plans to sell each vehicle at its Arizona Biltmore Auction Jan. 18, expects the truck to fetch $80,000 to $120,000, while the 1963 Cobra is expected to sell for $1.75 to $2.25 million. Similar ranges of values can be found at sales conducted by Russo and Steele, ICA, Kruse International, Silver Auction Co. and Barrett-Jackson. Each vehicle offered for sale by these companies has an interesting tale to tell, and the stories of the Cobra duo here are among the most exciting.
The 1966 Ford CS500 Super Duty
In less than a half decade, Carroll Shelby went from fitting an American V-8 into an aging British roadster to securing the FIA World Championship of GT cars. What started with a simple Ford V-8-powered AC Ace blossomed into a sports and racing car program that not only bested the formidable Ferrari and Corvette teams at tracks the world over, but also contributed such names as Cobra, GT350, and Daytona Coupe to the annals of automotive history. In fact, in 1966, after assuming control of Ford’s GT40 program, Carroll Shelby’s drivers crossed the finish line at Le Mans in an historic 1-2-3 photo finish. Less than one year later, the last 427 Cobra was built by Shelby American, a company that continues to contribute immeasurably to both the collector car and racing worlds.
The Ford CS500 Super Duty offered by RM Auctions is believed to be one of six trucks built for use by the Shelby American racing team in 1966. As such, it would have originally been utilized for transporting the Shelby Cobra racing cars around the country to various victorious appearances. Recently, the truck was purchased from a collector and restorer in Canada before being driven by its new owner more than 1,800 miles to Arizona, a testament to its continued drivability. In September 2007, it was driven to Santa Monica, Calif., where it participated in the SAAC’s Tony Sousa memorial car show and received a first-place prize.
The dash on this Super Duty was signed by racing driver Bob Bondurant and early Shelby employee Bernie Kretzschmar, both of whom were involved in the Cobra racing program. Early Cobra crew member John Morton also contributed his autograph and seems to have recalled traveling in this truck to Sebring, Fla.
Although the truck was converted to a flatbed setup, it otherwise appears very original. The former owner simply performed maintenance duties in the way of brake and radiator work, as well as tire replacement. In addition to the proper “Cobra” and “Shelby American” script on the exterior, the cabin retains its original headliner and white upholstery, as well as a wooden Cobra gearshift knob and dash-mounted tachometer. Shelby touches are also present under the hood, where the original 330-cid, 164-hp V-8 engine features Cobra valve covers, air cleaner and oil pan.
Well suited as a curious addition to any diverse automobile collection and a particularly desirable item for any Shelby enthusiast, this CS500 Super Duty is a rare find indeed. What’s more, a portion of the proceeds of its sale will go to the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation. RM Auctions is auctioning this truck without reserve.
The 1963 Shelby Cobra
The car offered by RM Auctions is the first Cobra race car (CSX2011) sold to the public and the third of three factory competition Cobras, making it a very early example. Ordered red with a black interior, it was shipped to Los Angeles and sold to John A. Everly of Winfield, Kan., in October 1962. Everly apparently traded in his 1954 Ferrari roadster for the Shelby AC Cobra, which he outfitted with front and rear anti-sway bars, a roll bar and a full racing windscreen.
The car’s first competition outing occurred just two months later at the December 1962 Nassau, Bahamas Trophy Race. The car returned the following year repainted white and blue and modified to 1963 specifications with six-inch “kidney bean” alloy wheels, a hood scoop and side exhaust. Everly’s Cobra fared quite well, finishing first in the GT category and 16th overall. Unfortunately, a string of DNFs ensued, beginning at the Daytona Continental 2,800km in February 1964. Four months later, Everly had a minor incident on the first lap at Watkins Glen, which prevented him from continuing. He then took CSX2011 and competed at Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake the same year, but success still eluded him. Everly attributed much of the problems to ball joint failures, broken differential mounts and inferior brakes.
The car’s second owner was John Archer of Dallas, who received the car in late 1964 in exchange for wages he was owed by South West Lotus. Archer installed CSX2011’s original engine in a Gemini-Ford, while his newly acquired Cobra received a GT350 “R” race engine with a Carter dual-quad carburetor setup.
Ron West, also of Dallas, purchased the Cobra in 1965 and owned it for more than 30 years. From 1965 through 1967, he entered several SCCA events with considerable success, winning repeatedly and finishing several times in the top five. In fact, he finished third for 1967 in the SCCA’s Southwest Division and was invited to the 1967 American Road Race of Champions in Daytona, Fla. As per SCCA rules, the dual-quad setup was replaced with a single four-barrel piece. West finished a respectable eighth in that particular race.
By 1971, the car found its way into storage, although it was brought out for several SAAC conventions. Unrestored and finished in white with black upholstery, it retained its 289-cid cubic inch V-8 with two Carter carburetors, kidney-bean Halibrand wheels, a hood scoop, side exhaust, original full windscreen and a driver’s roll bar that still bore a Bahamian inspection sticker dated 1963.
West sold CSX2011 to its current owner in 2007. Under the current owner’s direction, the car was refreshed under very strict guidelines for preservation. The benchmark for the car’s present appearance, configuration and blue and white finish was its outing at the Daytona Intercontinental FIA race in the 1960s.
Throughout this meticulous process, no effort, time or expense was spared in ensuring the car’s strict adherence to authenticity. In fact, a scratch made on the car in 1965 at Daytona was left untouched, as were other details of its storied past, including traces of the original red paint when new. Characteristic elements from its history, such as the racing windscreen, original hardtop, roll bar and side exhaust have all been retained. In most cases, any changes were made with an eye for safety and proper operation and race preparation.
Its special Shelby “R” engine was recently rebuilt to FIA-legal specifications. The gearbox, suspension, brakes, and other mechanical components received the same treatment. While the car’s original Holley carburetor setup is with CSX2011, it is currently fitted with the Carter dual-quad arrangement, as originally installed
The sensational performance and popularity of the AC Cobra confirms the Anglo-American hybrid as one of the most significant automotive icons of all time. While relatively few examples were built and remain in existence, fewer still have been as accurately maintained and refreshed as CSX2011.
We Will Be There
Members of the Old Cars Weekly staff will be on site through out the entire event to bring you up-to-the-minute news from the years biggest auto auctions. Keep a close eye on the www.OldCarsWeekly.com Web site in the coming weeks for photos, news, and blogs from the auctions.