The prototype Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2287) designed and developed by Carroll Shelby’s racing team, Shelby American, in 1964 is the first automobile recorded under the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation. The Historical Vehicle Association announced that honor recently, unveiling the car in its “survivor” state at a press conference in Washington DC.
“We’re honored that a Shelby car is the first vehicle to attain the same status as American icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, the spacecraft ‘Enterprise’ and Mount Vernon,” said Neil Cummings, Co-Trustee for the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust and Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International. “This Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe represents the hopes, dreams and monumental effort of a group of hot rodders who changed the way the world perceived American cars. Conceived by Carroll Shelby and created by his team, it captured the public’s hearts when it captured the world championship.”
Carroll Shelby International has been cooperating with the HVA to help chronicle this incredible story. Its division, Carroll Shelby Licensing donated images and offered HVA access to materials. According to HVA, this documentation will be part of its National Historic Vehicle Register permanently archived in the Library of Congress. HVA and U.S. Department of the Interior collaborated on the effort and plan to document other historically significant automobiles.
CSX2287 was built during 1964 by Shelby American, Inc. in Los Angeles as the first of six Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes for competition in world sports car racing. It was an attempt to improve upon the tops that were placed on the Shelby Cobra roadsters for competition on high speed tracks in Europe like Le Mans.
“One of the most important aspects to the National Historic Vehicle Register is the emphasis on creating an accurate record,” said Joe Conway, Co-Trustee for the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust and Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International. “So much lore surrounds this particular car. Early on, Shelby American tried to combat aerodynamic issues using a removable hardtop on the Cobra roadsters. Always looking for an edge, Carroll asked Peter Brock to sketch a new, better body that could be adapted to the existing chassis. Then he assigned his most important development engineer, Ken Miles, to the project. Even though many were skeptical that it would be successful, Carroll continued to finance and support development of the Cobra Daytona Coupe by his team.”
That tenacity on the part of Shelby paid off in spades. The Daytona Coupe enabled the Shelby American Cobra race team to dominate and win the International Manufacturer’s GT Championship in 1965. It was the first time an American manufacturer won an international race series.
That success, as well as the popularity of the Cobra roadster has often led people to copy and claim rights to the designs. The Carroll Hall Shelby Trust owns incontestable design rights to the Shelby Cobra “Daytona” Coupe pursuant to U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Registration No. 2,958,927, and to the Shelby Cobra 289 FIA pursuant to U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Registration No. 3,490,853.
“Everyone appreciates the efforts of Peter Brock, who originated the concept of placing a hardtop on the existing Shelby Cobra roadster for aerodynamic purposes, as well as all the other employees of Shelby American who turned Carroll’s dream of building a faster version of the car for international racing” said Cummings. “With budgets being so tight, it was Carroll’s willingness to gamble on design, as well as the numerous revisions like the tail spoiler that made the car so successful. It was a total team effort.”
HVA chose CSX2287 to be the first car in this groundbreaking program because it is among the most historically significant automobiles in America based on its association with important persons and events; its construction and aerodynamic design; and informational value as one of the few racecars from the period that has not been completely restored. The Shelby is part of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia.
“Dr. Simeone was very gracious to allow the car to be photographed, inspected and displayed for this initiative,” said Conway. “We appreciate his patience, as well as the persistence of the HVA to properly chronicle the Shelby. Our goal is to contribute the texture and archival documentation necessary to help them complete their story accurately.”