The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
6/15/18 3:47 p.m.

Story By Matt Stone • Photography As Credited

Carroll Shelby and a memorable gang of SoCal hotrodders had gathered in Dean Moon’s shop. It was early 1962, and a new Ford small-block V8 was being lowered into the empty engine bay of an AC Ace roadster. This is where the whole Cobra thing began.

The car was Shelby’s development mule–a show car, a press car. It was on the move all the time in those early days, and was repainted several different colors so people–primarily magazine editors–would think there was more than one. Shelby owned it when it was born, and it is absolutely not for sale at any price.

CSX2000 is wonderfully worn but beautiful in every way, medium metallic blue at the moment and not likely to ever change colors again. Half the gauges don’t work, though the right turn signal does. All the time. No matter which levers I fiddle with.

The car’s thin, wood-rimmed, alloy-spoked steering wheel feels like it’s made of Red Vines. There are shaggy tears in the original leather seats. A crack in the blue paint on the top edge of the dainty, alloy passenger door reveals a glimpse of an earlier coat of yellow.

The engine compartment is a bit shabby, the welds on the handmade headers not exactly NASA quality. Who knows how old these rock-hard Goodyear Motorway Special tires are: 6.70-15s on the rear, a 6.50-15 on the right front, and a 6.40-15 on the left front. Close enough.

Some would label CSX2000 as “weathered” or even “thrashed”; others would say it has “patina.” I say it’s historic, fabulously unmolested, and deserves to stay this way.

Turn the key, press the starter button, and the solid-lifter V8 snaps awake, settling into a slightly cammy, clackety idle. Wisps of blue smoke trail from the 1.5-inch-diameter dual tailpipes, indicating piston rings that were indeed rode hard, put away wet, and kept from seeing much action in the last 20 years.

But the little 260 revs willingly and, once running, transforms the first Cobra from a vaunted, horrifyingly valuable museum piece into–as Shelby calls ’em–a sport car. It sounds good. It even smells good–old car smells. Depress that firm clutch pedal, select first with the stubby gearshift, and we’re away.

The engine–plenty broken in by now–revs easily and speaks the expected small-block-Ford sounds. Each tall gear seems to pull forever. Redline is 5750 rpm, though it’s been to 7000 and more countless times.

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wspohn Dork
6/17/18 10:57 a.m.

Since stock engine valve float sets in around 6000, and you say this one can turn 7000, I assume they hot rodded it at the start?

jimbbski Dork
6/17/18 3:05 p.m.

I met a guy that was the second owner of a Cobra very much like this. It was painted brown, don't ask why, I didn't. This was in 1995 when I was buying a car from the second owner,  a Fox Mustang. He has just purchased it from the first owner who he had know for like 30 years and had on many occasions made known the fact that he would buy the car from him whenever  he was ready to sell it. Well  that happen in '95 when the first owner turned 80. The car had been sitting for over 25 years un-driven. It needed every rubber part replaced as they were either rock hard or crumbling but he was able to keep the tires as they still held air,  but you wouldn't want to drive anywhere on them.   

6/18/18 1:24 p.m.

@wsphon Safe to assume that hot-rodding was prevalent at the conception of the Cobra, especially for a mule that stuck around this long!

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