Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that this car is titled as a 1965.
The Shelby Cobra was heralded as a dynamic, all-around sports car, offering great drivability and epic performance. Sales literature of the period simply stated, “In no respect is it a compromise.” And in an uncompromising fashion, Shelby battled the factory-built purebreds both at home and abroad for outright victory.
Through the Cobra’s racing success and continued production minor changes were made, including the use of the Ford 289 engine over the 260 and an upgrade to rack and pinion steering, over worm and sector. Street cars were rolling out of SAI finding happy new owners, and AC continued to supply Carroll’s team with soon-to-be Cobras.
A copy of the original invoice for CSX2393 from AC Cars Ltd. to Ford Motor-Credit Co. for the account of Shelby American Inc. from April 7, 1964, records the car’s transport to Los Angeles just three days later aboard the S.S. Hoyhanger. It further denotes, “One A.C. Cobra car cellulosed in silver with red trim, top and tonneau, rack and pinion steering” at a cost of roughly $1,500. An image of this invoice is even featured in Dave Friedman’s Shelby Cobra.
Upon its arrival in Venice, California, the AC underwent the usual transformation to Cobra over a period of just a few months. CSX2393 was outfitted with Group A optional equipment, which included a tuned, chrome air cleaner, aluminum rocker arm covers, a front grille guard, a rear bumper guard, exhaust pipe tips, adjustable wind wings, tinted sun visors, a Smiths heater, seat belts and lastly, white sidewall tires. Uniquely, the car was completed without a luggage rack. The 289 Cobra, beautifully finished in silver with red leather, was fitted with engine number 5214, and invoiced on August 18, 1964, to Burton Motors in Sacramento for the sum of $5,195. A copy of the original invoice accompanies the car today.
Shortly after delivery to Burton Motors, the new Cobra was sold to Jay G. Phelps. In spring 1965, CSX2393 had relocated to the Berkeley area and received some unspecified warranty work at Lafayette Auto Sales Co. of Lafayette, California. Shortly thereafter the Cobra made its way to Minnesota, where it was purchased by Warren Ajax of Minneapolis and subsequently John Eaton, also a Minneapolis resident. In 1973, Gerald Ebhardt of nearby Bloomington bought the car, and after a short year of ownership, he listed the Cobra for sale.
At that time, in February 1974, the current owner, Tom Warth of Minnesota, purchased CSX2393, now finished in black with its original red interior. For Warth, the Shelby Cobra was little more than a 10-year-old sports car, something to really use and enjoy. Wearing the Minnesota plate “COBRA,” the little black 289 starting accruing mileage with its enthusiastic new owner. By 1979, the Cobra’s odometer had reached 67,000 miles and Warth was growing increasingly comfortable with the sports car, although it isn’t hard to fall in love with a good 289.
As founder of Classic Motorbooks and Books for Africa – a successful not-for-profit organization seeking to supply African communities with educational books discarded here in the US – Warth gained notoriety in collector car circles and beyond. CSX2393 was occasionally featured in the Classic Motorbooks catalogue, a familiar item to many collectors. In 1992, Warth drove the Cobra from his home in Minnesota to Portland, Oregon, and back for the 17th Shelby American Automobile Club Convention. The roughly 4,000 mile trip brought the car’s overall mileage up to 91,000.
While the car continued to see regular use, Warth saw to it that CSX2393 received regular maintenance and, in 2004, the car was entrusted to Randy Bailey, a Shelby specialist and active club member, for a repaint in black. At this time, the decision was also made to preserve the original red leather seats, which were removed and replaced with replicas. By 2005, CSX2393 had covered in excess of 100,000 miles. Bailey continued to service the car as needed, seeing to both mechanical and cosmetic needs.
In 2009, Warth participated in the Road & Track Concours d’Elegance held in July at the Kohler International Challenge at Road America. That weekend, CSX2393 was awarded Road & Track’s “Car I want to drive home,” by Peter Egan. A few years later, for the 50th anniversary of Shelby during Pebble Beach week, Warth drove CSX2393 from the Minneapolis area to Monterey and back, totaling 4,500 miles. Tom’s co-driver, Logan Gray, wrote the Sports Car Market letter several months later with a photo of the car and a mention of the noteworthy drive, which was featured in the January 2013 edition.
Today, CSX2393 remains a very pure example of the legendary 289 Cobra. The car exudes originality, which speaks to the long-term ownership and loving care the car has received. The original dashboard is complete, with the odometer now showing 120,000 miles. Cosmetically, the Cobra presents well, with the expected gentle patina of a well-used car. Mechanically, CSX2393 is a sound road car, with proven mileage and constant care by Randy Bailey, one of the most highly regarded Shelby mechanics. It is refreshing to see one of the greatest sports cars of all time still being used so appropriately.
CSX2393 is exceptionally complete, accompanied with a copy of the original invoice from AC Cars Ltd., a copy of the original invoice from Shelby American, three original Cobra brochures, an original owner’s handbook, a Cobra Roadster parts catalogue, the original red leather seats, and the car’s top bows, top, tonneau, and original radiator.
As difficult as it may be to part with an old friend, CSX2393 is presented for sale after nearly 40 years of single ownership, with Tom Warth’s hope that it sees continued spirited use, delighting its next custodian. This is a wonderfully pure and original example ready to be enjoyed, and should be seriously considered by anyone not yet fortunate enough to own a 289 Cobra.