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Formerly the Property of Tom Payne
“1 Cobra roadster competition, color it RED,” was emphatically written on the Ford Special Vehicle Performance Work Order that further specified a “Competition Cobra for Tom Payne.” The order was approved by Jacques Passino, vice president of Ford Motor Company Special Vehicle Division, on June 18, 1964.
Tom Payne, a Ford dealership salesman by trade, was perhaps more successful as an SCCA racing participant on weekends. He was known as “Gentleman” Tom Payne for once having arrived late to a race wearing a jacket and tie, leaving no time to change. The outfit soon became a trademark. Payne’s popularity and success grew and in Passino’s eyes, he was the perfect character to champion a Cobra in local races. The relationship was founded with the intent to bolster Ford sales, so the personal order for a Competition Roadster was not taken lightly by Shelby American.
That June, Shelby American Inc. (SAI) began to build CSX2430 into a factory-specification competition car. The modifications mirrored those of the team cars and included a hood scoop, a chrome roll bar, 6 1/2" Halibrand front wheels, 8 1/2" Halibrand rear wheels (both resulting in flared fenders and modified wheel wells), Koni shock absorbers, front and rear sway bars, front and rear competition brakes with cold-air scoops, quick jack points, side pipes, dual long range fuel tanks, a 3 1/2" Monza snap-open fuel cap, a racing seat, a Sun tachometer, a fuel pressure gauge (in place of clock), a differential cooler and engine oil cooler, an electric Stewart Warner fuel pump, a cross-mounted aluminum Harrison header tank, and a full race-spec 289 with Webers, 12:1 compression, and a 9-quart oil pan. As requested, the car was colored red.
On July 30, 1964, CSX2430 was flown to Detroit for delivery. The Competition Roadster was billed to the Ford Motor Company for $9,250 plus delivery. It is worth noting that the car remained the property of Ford and was subsequently run as a SAI factory-sponsored car. Upon delivery to Payne, the new Cobra was put to immediate use and saw its first racing outing just two days later. Unfortunately, the car failed to finish that weekend at the Lynndale Farms SCCA Divisional.
The following weekend, however, CSX2430 took home 3rd in the manufacturers’ class at Meadowdale. The result was repeated at the USRRC event at Mid-Ohio on August 30th. Nearly a month later, Payne and CSX2430 competed at the Greenwood SCCA Divisional, taking home 1st in A Production.
Seeking some additional exposure, Payne and CSX2430 joined the SAI team in the Bahamas for the 1964 Speed Week. Amongst stiff competition and an array of well-prepared cars, Payne finished 5th overall and 2nd in GT in the Tourist Trophy Race. Carrying the momentum, Payne brought CSX2430 to 9th overall in the Governer’s Trophy Race; and finally, in the Trophy race, the duo managed 25th overall and 1st in their respective GT grouping.
1965 competition of CSX2430 kicked off at Mont Tremblant where Payne won 1st in GT. The following month, SAI team drivers Dan Gerber and Tom Yeager ran the Cobra at the USRRC Road America 500 earning 33rd overall and 5th in GT. At the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport, Payne managed an 11th overall and back at Mont Tremblant he finished 7th overall. CSX2430 then returned to Nassau, where Bob Grossman piloted Tom Payne and CSX2430 after the the Cobra to 5th overall and 1st in GT in that year’s Trophy Race.
Payne had proved a successful driver for Ford and Shelby, and for 1966 he was provided with a new 427 to race. In early 1966, Ford sold the Competition Cobra to John “Scotty” Addison who raced the car that season in SCCA competition before selling it. For the 1967 season, Dan Schlames became the new owner and driver of CSX2430 and had the car painted yellow. In addition to its new paint scheme, CSX2430 was fitted with a full-width roll bar in red to match the now red side pipes. The car was campaigned in several local Michigan SCCA events. Schlames retained the car for over a decade before placing it for sale.
Around 1980, CSX2430 was bought by Ken Eber of Armonk, New York. Eber retained the car for two short years before Rick Nagel of Dallas purchased it for the sum of $70,000. Nagel brought the car back to its proper red appearance and raced the car with some success. In 1984, at the Texas Vintage Challenge, Nagel piloted CSX2430 to a win. Later that year, Carroll Shelby was given the Competition Roadster to drive at the Texas Can-Am Challenge, potentially marking the last time Shelby drove a race car in competition. CSX2430 went on to set a lap record at the vintage races in Kansas City and achieved three more wins at regional SCCA races in 1984 and 1985.
In 1985, Steven Volk, well known as the principal behind the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, Colorado, purchased the historic race car from Nagel. Realizing the car’s importance, Volk commissioned Bill Murray of Longmont, Colorado, to restore the Tom Payne Cobra. Murray remains well known for his attention to detail with competition Cobras and GT40s and is charged with the care of the Shelby American Collection and the Larry Miller Collection in Tooele, Utah.
Murray began the project by fully dismantling CSX2430. The original body was stripped to bare metal and was found to be in wonderful condition with the exception of a poorly repaired racing incident to its left front corner. The damage was properly repaired. The chassis and mechanical components were similarly inspected and restored. During the restoration, the car was additionally assessed for originality, and it was found that the original chassis plate remained in addition to the stampings on the passenger side A-arm hanger, the hood latch, both door frames, and the trunk latch. Given the car’s competitive history, it was fantastic to see that the Cobra remained particularly pure as so many of its contemporaries lost originality due to hard racing careers.
Murray’s aim was to bring CSX2430 to concours condition, maintaining its periodcorrect appearance and specifications. Additionally, the Cobra was also finished with the intent that it could be vintage raced if desired, with the inclusion of a five point harness, a more modern fuel delivery system, a fuel cell, an updated exhaust system, and adjustable A arms.
Once completed in 1986, CSX2430 was put on display at the Shelby American Collection where it stayed until 2010 when it was acquired by the consignor. CSX2430 has remained a well-known example of the Competition Cobra and has appeared on the cover of American Rodding in March 1966, numerous times in The Shelby American including an appearance on the cover of edition #58, in Dave Friedman’s Shelby Cobra, Rinsey Mill’s AC Cobra, Trevor Legate’s Cobra, and finally as a featured car in Shelby Cars in Detail: Cars of the Shelby American Collection.
Under its current ownership, the Competition Roadster has seen limited use and proper maintenance. It should be noted that the car is currently set up for road use, but could be brought to track-ready order without foreseeable issue. CSX2430 remains a highly original Competition Roadster and one of a limited number of factory-prepared cars brought to team-car specification that has survived in such a pedigreed state. Boasting a successful period race history, known ownership since new, a fantastic restoration by one of the genre’s best, and acclaim through its museum display, the Tom Payne Cobra is hard to fault in any way.