Photo: Brian McCarthy

Photo: Brian McCarthy

1962 Shelby Cobra

Photos: Johnny Miles

After British sports car maker AC announced it would no longer build the AC Ace due to a lack of available engines, American racing driver Carroll Shelby had an idea. Shelby married the nimble British chassis to a powerful American V-8, spawning one of the world’s iconic sports cars, the Shelby Cobra. The first prototype was powered by a 260-cubic-inch Ford engine, which was later replaced by the 289. The Cobra proved potent, with its American powerplant giving it a 0-to-60 time of just 4.2 seconds. In contrast to nearly all the muscle cars of the period, the Cobra also had decent handling thanks to its light weight.

This example, chassis CSX2001, is the very first production Cobra ever built. The only car built before it was the original prototype, chassis CSX2000, which remained in Carroll Shelby’s possession for the remainder of his life. Today, CSX2001 is part of the Bruce Meyer Collection, and it is currently on display in a special exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles entitled “Winning Numbers: The First, the Fastest, the Famous.”

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