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*Please note this vehicle is titled 1963 Cobra.
Shelby American Inc., Venice, California (acquired via AC Cars Limited on September 26, 1962)Richard J. Neil Jr., Honolulu, Hawaii (acquired from the above on August 23, 1963)Shelby American Inc., Venice, California (acquired from the above on August 29, 1963)Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving, Venice, California (acquired from the above on June 16, 1964)Don Bell, Seattle, Washington (acquired circa 1970)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
There is perhaps no Cobra with a more interesting resume than CSX 2005.
The fifth production chassis number allotted, this early production 260 Cobra was originally delivered by AC Cars Limited to Shelby American finished in red with black leather. As one of the first production 260 Cobras available, CSX 2005 was sold to its first owner, Richard J. Neil Jr. of Honolulu, Hawaii. Allegedly, Mr. Neil had a mechanical issue with the Cobra on a cross-country trip to California, however, and subsequently traded the 260 to Shelby American for another Cobra, marking a short first ownership.
Once back with Shelby, CSX 2005 was used for promotional purposes. It was during this time that the Cobra was featured in the motion picture The Killers, starring Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan. In the film, CSX 2005 is used in numerous scenes, presented in a straight black livery with the race number “98.” An invoice remains from Shelby American to Universal City, Revue Studios for “Repair of Cobra CSX #2005 damaged by you” from February 11, 1964.
On June 16, 1964, the 260 Cobra was invoiced to the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving. Presented in light metallic blue with a black interior, a roll bar – void of bumper guards – and wearing “T” for “trainer” on the roundels, CSX 2005 would become a very recognizable Cobra. During the car’s time with the school, it saw use at Riverside Raceway by the likes of James Garner and Miss Universe, while Pete Brock and John Timanus served as instructors. The school and CSX 2005 were featured in the August 1964 issue of Sports Car, the August 1964 issue of Ford Times, and the September 1964 issue of Car and Driver in which author John Jerome describes his participation as a student, including his turn-nine contact with bales of hay in the Cobra. Further confirming the school’s popularity and attendance, a copy of a letter to Steve McQueen, dated June 30, 1964, marks the film star’s interest in attending the school and Carroll Shelby’s approval for the use of CSX 2005.
While Cobras are largely known today amongst the general public, much can be attributed to CSX 2005 in the way of recognition. As the car from The Killers, and a feature car in numerous articles and images from the driving school, the car no doubt had an early influence on the awareness of Shelby Cobras by the public. “Sure, race fans knew what a Cobra was in 1964, but John Q. Public, for the most part, had no idea what a Cobra was. Then, along comes the Ronald Reagan, Angie Dickenson movie, The Killers, and suddenly the whole world gets to see this great-looking new sports car on the big screen,” recalls Lynn Park, who at the time was an early friend and client of Shelby’s.
Following its use by the Carroll Shelby School, the Cobra seemingly disappeared from the limelight. Acquired in the 1970s by Don Bell of Seattle, CSX 2005 was headed to the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Bell used the car with some regularity and, in August 1976, he attended SAAC-1 in Oakland, its only noted public display. Finally, the 260 Cobra was put away, for what would become years of static storage.
The Shelby 289 was acquired in 2010 by the consignor, a Southern California Cobra enthusiast and collector. While in need of restoration, CSX 2005 was found to be in a sound and complete state. With the help and guidance of Cobra expert Lynn Park, CSX 2005 was entrusted to noted Cobra restorer Mike McCluskey. Given the Cobra’s extensive history it was determined that the car should be restored to the specification of its most important role, as the driving school trainer.
“It had to be restored to exactly what it looked like when it was the star of the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving. Luckily, the original engine, transmission, rear end, etc. were all with the car. Master Cobra restorer Mike McCluskey, armed with a box full of photographs of the car in its school livery, was able to return the car to 1964 specifications. Small details, like the original-style 50-year-old tires, were located and put on the car,” said Lynn Park.
Given the Cobra’s unique features as the fifth production car, the team was keen to ensure the correctness of the car. Of note, the correct Ford XHP-260-5 engine was fitted with the proper two-barrel Autolite carburetor and rare air cleaner. Many of the early cars’ ancillary components were British, including Smiths gauges and a Lucas generator, which includes the seldom-seen tachometer drive of the back of the generator. The steering wheel is that of an AC, the radiator is a Harrison type, and the foot box was finished in black. Also of note is the absence of a chassis plate, correct for the first 200 cars. The inside lace wheels, used while at the school, were fitted with correct, period Goodyear tires. Lastly, one should note the form of the body with minimal fender fares and void of side vents; the 260 Cobra was a truly pure form.
Once completed, CSX 2005 was displayed at the NHRA Motorsports Museum, the SAAC-38, and several other seminars and events related to Shelby Cobras. The 260 Cobra has attracted attention at every outing given its immediately recognizable livery and stunning presentation. “Pete Brock, who ran Shelby’s driving school, and John Morton, who was a student, were all smiles when they saw the restored car,” recalls Park.
CSX 2005 is also superbly documented, complete with copies of original invoices and letters from Shelby American; photographs of the car during the filming of The Killers; a reproduction movie poster; a copy of The Killers on VHS; an original Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving brochure; a copy of the Ford Times, Sports Car, and Car and Driver issues that feature the car; an archive of photographs of the car during its use as a driving school trainer; photographs prior to, during, and after restoration; and lastly, a Racing Legends 1/18 scale model of the car.
Minimally used since restoration, the Cobra presents superbly today, which is no surprise given the caliber of the work performed. CSX 2005’s illustrious history surely makes the car among the most important Cobras in existence today. Considering the car’s place as the fifth production Cobra built, feature in a noted motion picture, use by the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving, and recent and exacting restoration, CSX 2005 is a fine example of the legendary American sports car. The opportunity to acquire a well-known Cobra of such historical note should be seriously considered by any collector.