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Carroll Shelby is one of the most celebrated, controversial, and iconic characters in American motoring. On the surface, he played the role of the down-home, laid-back Texas chicken farmer, but in reality, he was a hyper-focused racer with a keen sense of engineering and a shrewd, often ruthless businessman. Following his forced retirement from racing due to a heart condition, he set about creating a proper sports car Americans could be proud of. His inspiration came from Sydney Allard’s British-engineered, American-powered sports cars, and Shelby felt a modern equivalent could clean up on the race track and in the showroom.
Using the superbly balanced AC Ace as his basis, Shelby set about finding a suitable power plant to replace the pre-war derived AC and Bristol engines. He approached GM but was quickly rebuffed to avoid conflict with the Corvette. Ford, however, was all-ears to the concept. The new lightweight “Challenger” small block V8 had just been introduced, and the new head of passenger cars, Lee Iacocca, was eager to erase Ford’s stodgy image and add a halo sports car to the line. Shelby struck a deal and the rest, as they say, is history – except it was hardly that simple. A considerable amount of engineering work on behalf of Shelby and AC Cars went in to properly develop and strengthen the John Tojiero-designed chassis to handle what was, in essence, double the output of the original AC six. When Dave MacDonald obliterated a field of Corvettes, Jaguars, and Porsches to give the new car its first racing victory at Riverside Raceway, the Cobra legend was cast. Soon, American sports car enthusiasts were scrambling to get their hands on this pretty little Anglo-American hybrid. Seemingly overnight, the Shelby Cobra – and the man who created it – were legends.
This stunning Shelby 289 roadster is one of just 50 examples produced by Shelby American to honor the golden anniversary of the iconic original “slab-side” Cobra. This collector-owned Cobra is offered in superb condition, with just over 1,100 miles on the odometer. Each of the 50th Anniversary cars came in the same shade of Shelby Black over a wine red leather interior and was equipped with chrome wire wheels, chrome bumpers, and unique badging. As a testament to the Cobra’s interminable popularity with collectors and enthusiasts worldwide, when Shelby announced the car in 2011, all 50 Anniversary models were spoken for within 48 hours.
The anniversary editions bore official CSX serial numbers 8950-8999, and this car, CSX 8971, is officially the 22nd off the line. Significantly, CSX 8971 is a genuine, official Shelby American, Inc. Cobra recognized in the Shelby American World Registry. The form is a direct descendent of the original ’62 design, with the slab-sided body and subtle wheel arch extensions that preserve the purity and beauty of the original AC Ace. On the technical side, the factory made a few welcome improvements to the original chassis design, including a more robust steel tube frame, modern dampers, rack-and-pinon steering, powerful four-wheel disc brakes, improved cooling, and a high-quality, lightweight fiberglass body. The paint quality and detailing are superb on this car, which has lived a quiet life as part of a world-class collection of important sports cars and presents in impeccable condition.
The Cobra’s tubular frame supports a Ford 289 cubic-inch V-8 engine and five-speed manual transmission, feeding a Shelby-made aluminum-housing differential and Spicer split-spline half-shafts. The 289 is dressed with finned Shelby valve covers and a chrome pancake air cleaner with unique Anniversary decals. The engine bay is immaculate and appears like-new, reflective of this car’s low mileage and meticulous care. It runs beautifully and emits an addictive note from the dual exhaust. Judged on the sound alone, one would be forgiven for mistaking it for a big-block sibling.
Shelby spared no expense on trimming the 50th Anniversary cars to a high standard, using beautiful red leather on the seats and door pockets and matching wool carpet and red vinyl dash covering. Stewart-Warner instruments, original-style switchgear, tinted Perspex visors, and a wood-rimmed alloy steering wheel preserve the authentic, period-correct appearance. Other special touches include 50th Anniversary floor mats, Simpson lap belts, numbered dash plaque, and anniversary steering wheel emblem. A full canvas top and side curtain set is included for those not bothered by a bit of weather.
Collector-owned from day one and showing only 1,100 miles on the odometer, this gorgeous ‘slab-side’ 289 Cobra is virtually new and presents a rare opportunity to add one a coveted limited-production, genuine Shelby American Cobras to your stable.
Offers welcome and trades considered
1962 AC Cobra 289 50th Anniversary Roadster is listed till salu on ClassicDigest in St. Louis by Hyman Ltd. for $195000.