Lot 31

2015   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2015

1965 Shelby 289 Cobra

SOLD $858,000


$900,000 - $1,000,000| Without Reserve



Car Highlights

Desirable Dual-Purpose Example of a True Icon
Documented in the Shelby American World Registry
Presented in its Factory-Specified Black on Black Livery
Essential Component of Any Serious Race Car Collection
Prepared as a Longtime Competition Cobra as Shelby Intended

Technical Specs

Ford 289 CID V-8 Hi-Po Engine
Single Holley 4-Barrel Carburetor
271 BHP at 5,800 RPM
4-Speed Close-Ratio Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Girling Hydraulic Disc Brakes
4-Wheel Independent Suspension with Wishbones and Transverse Leaf Springs

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note this vehicle is titled as a Cobra.

Register to Bid

From the Peter Klutt Legendary Motorcar CollectionRobert R. Billman, Troy, Ohio (acquired before 1967)Jack and Scott Smith, California (acquired in August 1973)Wayne Tanaka, Fresno, California (acquired from the above in December 1983)Peter Klutt/Legendary Motorcar, Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada (acquired from the above)

Having risen to the pinnacle of motorsport as a Le Mans-winning codriver for Aston Martin in 1959, American racing driver Carroll Shelby dealt with his retirement from driving in 1960 by manifesting a long-held dream of building his own racing car. Rightly, Shelby believed the fastest path to victory lane was to combine American V-8 power with an existing European chassis. Coincidentally, British manufacturer AC and its John Tojeiro-designed Ace faced the cancellation of Bristol’s excellent 2.0-liter six derived from the prewar BMW 328. Sleek, light, and proven, the Ace could, Shelby thought, be the perfect basis for his new race car. In September 1961, Shelby wrote Charles Hurlock of AC Cars proposing a V-8 transplant for the Ace, Hurlock replied with interest if a suitable engine was available.

Shelby moved quickly when Hot Rod Editor Ray Brock told him of Ford’s new lightweight small-block V-8, which Shelby mated to a stock AC Ace. The 221 soon grew to 260 cid and Ford’s Dave Evans arranged for shipment of a pair of the new engines to Shelby, who immediately airfreighted them to AC. Next, Shelby few to England to test-drive the new car, which he dubbed the “Cobra,” on February 1, 1962, and in so doing, he indelibly changed automotive history.

In all, Shelby American produced 654 small-block Cobras (579 289-powered cars and 75 with the 260 engine). Hundreds of victories followed with Cobras dominating SCCA events and the basic formula giving rise to the Daytona coupes that handed Ford its first FIA World Championship in 1965. While small-block Cobras utilized somewhat anachronistic transverse leaf springs, this setup worked very well and contributed to their excellent dynamics. As recently discussed by Shelby enthusiast Colin Comer in The Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles, “Should you be fortunate enough to find yourself behind the wheel of a good leaf-spring Cobra, you’ll find it’s an experience anybody who even remotely enjoys driving will likely never forget.”

Numbered CSX2315 and documented in the Shelby American World Registry, this 289 Cobra was a racing car for much of its lifetime, as Carroll Shelby originally intended. Originally finished in black on black, the colors it wears today, CSX2315 was billed to Shelby American on January 31, 1964, shipped to Los Angeles on February 12th aboard the SS Loch Loyal, and invoiced on April 13, 1964, to Parkersburg, West Virginia’s Dills Motor Company. It was equipped with the Class A accessory package including WSW tires, a luggage rack ($280.50), and antifreeze ($3.55) for a total of $5,479.05. The first known owner of CSX2315 was Robert R. Billman of Troy, Ohio, who raced the car in select SCCA B/Production events. In December 1967, he offered it in racing trim accompanied by “all street extras.”

The Cobra passed to an unknown subsequent owner in 1968. In August 1973, CSX2315 was acquired by Jack and Scott Smith of California in damaged condition. The car was then restored to FIA specs which included modified front and rear fenders, a hood scoop, a chrome roll bar and side exhaust pipes, an oil cooler, Halibrand racing wheels, and the 289 engine rebuilt to Cobra USRRC specification. In December 1983, the Smiths sold CSX2315 to Wayne Tanaka, who retained the Cobra until June 2014 when Peter Klutt purchased it.

CSX2315 has spent most of its life on the racetrack, in the early years as a serious race car, and today as a fun and historic track/street car. Best of all, CSX2315 has not yet been shown publicly or toured, providing a truly outstanding opportunity for Shelby enthusiasts and collectors everywhere.