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Automoblog Book Garage: Shelby Cobra: The Snake Conquering the World

Shelby Cobra car American
ZTSG 05/01/2022 Truck 188
As a new sales consultant for Ford Sioux Falls in 2009, I was fascinated by the Ford Shelby GT500 in our showroom. Before that moment in my life, I had never seen a person. It stopped next to my desk....

As a new sales consultant for Ford Sioux Falls in 2009, I was fascinated by the Ford Shelby GT500 in our showroom. Before that moment in my life, I had never seen a person. It stopped next to my desk.

That black car with orange stripes inspired me during those early days of my career. Being new to the car business during a nationwide economic downturn made for an uphill battle. Still, green as I was, I wanted to sell it. Every car deal I worked, I would look over and say “someday.”

I was glued to that Shelby GT500.

From Chickens to Cobras

Author

Significance Snake

Shelby Cobra: The Snake That Conquered the World Gallery

From Chickens to Cobras

Shelby Cobra: The Snake That Conquered the World follows the story of Carroll Shelby, the man behind the infamous machine bearing his name. Shelby, in the 1960s, envisioned a line of performance cars so spectacular some might have called him crazy.

Yet dreams, when combined with hard work, often come true. When Shelby’s Cobra appeared in 1962, he beat the odds against him and built a benchmark for performance. The book details this journey and what prompted this Texas farmer to build the now iconic cars.

Author

Colin Comer is the Editor-at-Large for Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines and a contributing editor for Road & Track. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with wife Cana, daughter Remington, and a herd of dogs.

A new chapter features tributes to Carroll Shelby from Chuck Cantwell, John Morton, Henry Ford III, and Kati Remington-Blackledge, among others. Artwork is provided by Motorsport artist Hector Cademartori. The foreword is written by Shelby himself.

Significance Snake

The Mustang creates emotion, as we saw in a recent edition of our Book Garage series. Adding Shelby’s name to them amplifies that tenfold. The cars this chicken farmer created are the ones people spend their lives dreaming about – I so badly wanted to sell one to a person just like that.

I never did.

I don’t think my career in the automotive industry can be complete until I do. I can’t explain why – it is what it is. Until then, on my messy desk in my tiny Detroit apartment, sits this book. I love how the Cobra emblem on the cover is raised so you can run your hands over it.

Goodness knows what important matters I have sitting under the book: blood work results from my doctor, a contract, few bills, and a check. I should probably look at those things . . . but this book has conquered my desk and my wildest dreams, just like the Cobra conquered the world.

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.

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Available through Amazon and Motorbooks.

Shelby Cobra: The Snake That Conquered the World Gallery

Carroll Shelby, the racer, is shown here in the Birdcage Maserati he so skillfully piloted, sans signature bib overalls. Shelby looks right at home. Note the race no. 98, which would later become Ken Miles’ number of choice, and the Autolite sponsorship—odd, for an Italian sports racing car! Courtesy of Shelby American, Inc.

The world’s most famous Cobra, and perhaps the single most valuable American sports car of all: CSX2000, the first Cobra ever built. This is the Cobra that was used for all of the early magazine tests, often painted a different color to make it appear as if Shelby was just cranking out Cobras and there were plenty to go around! Carroll Shelby has owned it since new, and it isn’t going anywhere. Colin Comer

An original factory Dragonsnake Cobra, CSX2357 was the second one completed. It is shown here “dumping the laundry” as they say in drag racing. Colin Comer

Bob Bondurant smiles, and with good reason. He is sitting in CSX2129 at the August 1963 Continental Divide USRRC race in Colorado (car no. 98), and finished first in GT and fifth overall. Peter Luongo

Carol Connors wrote the song “Hey Little Cobra” at Carroll Shelby’s urging, and likely in large part for Shelby’s promise to give her a Cobra of her own if she did! The song was a hit, and today ranks as one of the top car songs of all time. What you may not know is that Connors also wrote the holiday tune “Santa’s Got a Cobra,” or another more well known hit that she co-wrote: “Gonna Fly Now,” also known as the theme from Rocky. As Connors has said, “Hey Little Cobra” got her a Cobra, but the theme from Rocky got her a house in Beverly Hills. Courtesy of Shelby American, Inc.

This Cobra was built specifically for the 1963 24 Hours of LeMans by AC Cars. A right-hand-drive car that was never exported to the United States, the chassis number was purposely made with the “X” (for eXport) deleted so it was officially CS2131. Colin Comer

This is CSX2019, which was originally a Shelby PR car. It appeared as Elvis Presley’s red no. 98 Cobra race car in Viva Las Vegas, then was returned to Shelby American where it soon became the first factory Dragonsnake Cobra. It now resides in the Shelby American Collection museum. Jeff Burgy

The ex–Barrey Robles unrestored Cobra, CSX2230, still looks great despite its 47 years and 132,000 miles of use. Note the artful fender flares and hood scoop done when new in preparation for its SCCA career that was never to come to fruition, thanks to an SCCA rules change. Everything happens for a reason, as they say. John Hollansworth Jr.

Preservation rather than restoration is a major movement today. Unrepaired cars like CSX2289 are sought after by people who like to drive rather than wax. It is not for everyone, but sometimes restorative efforts do more harm than good. Pawel Litwinski from Gooding and Company