Shelby American, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carroll Shelby International Inc. is continuing its global expansion by introducing its first international turnkey small block racing Cobra.
The “Sebring Tribute” limited edition Cobra roadsters will go into production during the second quarter of 2016. The lightweight roadsters will come complete with a genuine 289 c.i.d. aluminum engine and Ford transmission. Available in aluminum or fiberglass, the 15 total track cars will have a Shelby M.S.O. and be sold worldwide.
“In 1963, Shelby American raced the Cobra head-to-head against the seemingly invincible sports cars from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Jaguar,” said Neil Cummings, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Carroll Shelby Licensing. “Sebring was the first official FIA race for the Cobra, which sparked a battle with Ferrari that became very personal over the years. News stories were filled with photographs of Dan Gurney piloting a black Cobra wearing a pair of shocking yellow stripes, as he hammered past other cars. That race put the world on notice that this bunch of hot rodders had the competitive spirit necessary to win a world championship.”
Soon after Shelby American introduced the first small block street car in 1962, the company began work on a racing version of the car. Powered by Ford and fueled by the dreams and hot-rodding talent of Carroll Shelby and Shelby American, the Cobras were a terror on the track winning the US Road Racing Championship in 1963.
The 289 Shelby Cobras were also part of the Shelby American team that won the 1965 FIA World Sportscar Championship, which is still the only American team in history to win that prestigious title.
For the 1963 Sebring race, Shelby built two cars including CSX2128; these were the first to use rack and pinion steering and the 289 engine. CSX2128 was driven at Sebring by Dan Gurney, who designed the two yellow racing stripes so it would be easy to spot the car from the pits while at speed. The Shelby was also raced by Ken Miles, Lew Spencer, Allen Grant and Dave McDonald. It was even memorialized in the hit song “Hey Little Cobra.”
CSX2128 raced as a Shelby American factory team car from March through July. Sold to Coventry Motors, the cars’ success during the remainder of 1963, prompted Shelby American to buy it back for the 1964 season. This “workhorse” was among the most successful of the factory team Cobras and its illustrious history included an intersection with Hollywood. While driven by Allen Grant for Coventry Motors, a new livery for the car was designed by eventual movie titan George Lucas.
“Shelby is once again shaping the automotive landscape with our legendary Cobra,” said Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “For the first time, we’re offering a complete, turnkey continuation Shelby Cobra roadster direct from the factory to customers worldwide. While the materials and construction methods have improved over the years, each of these Cobras will be a genuine Shelby built by our craftsmen with a Ford small block from the Shelby Engine Company. The racecars will be a thrill to drive at club events and track days.”
The Sebring Tribute edition cars are based on the Shelby American CSX7000 Continuation Shelby Cobra. The Shelby Sebring Tribute Cobras will retain the authentic style suspension and masculine body lines, but are upgraded to contemporary standards. Shelby American uses modern disc brakes, a stronger frame and the bodies are available in either aluminum or fiberglass.
Just like the 1960s race car, the series will features widened front and rear fenders, cut-back doors, more aggressive dampers, racing wheels featuring the pin-drive hub, oil cooler scoops and a 289 small block engine. Each car will be built to order and delivered with a Shelby American serial number for documentation in the official Shelby American Worldwide Registry.
Pricing and final specifications for the Sebring Tribute Edition Cobra will be announced soon.