Amelia Island Concours, the Shelbys


By Ken Visser

Shelby, a name that invokes an image, a brand, a legend.  Throw Cobra in the mix and you have fear and speed all mixed into one muscular four wheeled beast.

My infatuation with the Shelby Cobra dates back the mid 70’s, when I caught my first glimpse of a blue 427 Cobra rumbling down Reading Blvd.  It took me nearly 2 years of furious pedaling to finally figure out where the Shelby lived.  As a gangly 14 year old, I went up the door and introduced myself.  I showed the owner my Shelby binder of magazine articles and ads.   Then asked if I could have a photoshoot of his Cobra.  Rick said yes under one condition, that I not tell anyone about where the car lived. Even better, he gave me a ride.  I can remember every second of that short blast.  “I’m going to accelerate now, don’t let you head snap back and hit the back of the cockpit.”  Seriously...

Kvisser cobra 01 lr

I was the VP of the Wyomissing AV club.  That gave me access to the school's 35mm camera.  Sio with the borrowed camera I had my first automotive photoshoot.   I found these Kodak slides some years ago.  A bit cruddy but still scanable.  Even at 14, I found that low angle appealing.


Fast forward to the 2012 Amelia Island where Shelby Cobra was a featured class.   Here was my first sighting of a Shelby.

Amelia12 cobra unload lr

The 1962 Cobra CSX 2017 emerges from its trailer.  It is authentic full spec competition Cobra. Nothing on it that don't make it go faster.


Saturday afternoon saw the first Cobra enter the show field.  I wish I had heard this car rumble into its spot.

Aic12 Cobra drag coupe 21 lr
The 1962 Shelby Dragsnake (CSX2093) is the most successful competition Cobra in drag history. Only 8 people checked off the $8,990 option.  Notice how the Cobra is pointed right at the pond.  Make sure the parking brake is on!



Aic12 Shelby Cobra 062 r1 lr

CSX2001 pulls into it's designated spot.  This is one of the very first batch of cars sent to the US. Originally had a 260 which was updated to a full race spec 289 and 36 gallon tank.  Utterly sinister and amazing in black.  Next to the DragonSnake is the 63 Shelby Cougar II CSX2008, a prototype penned by Eugene Bordinat, the head of Ford Styling.  It's a strangely cool looking car.

Aic12 Shelby 65 Cobra Daytona Coupe038 r1 lr

The 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe csx 2299 was the second one built. 2299 scored a debut class win at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans.  It also won the Daytona 2000km and the Sebring 12 Hours.  Amazing car with amazing heritage.  (I have to admit here, I cloned out the towing rope, it looked cooler as if rolling on its own.)


This one hits all the styling cues: the blue with stripes, external pipes and roll bar... say no more!  

Aic12 Shelby 65 Cobra Daytona Coupe029 lr

One of my favorites was the 1964 Cobra CSX2558. The car has fender flairs and larger rear fenders to accommodate larger tires. The car has the original 289 competition engine and pumps out 400 horsepower.  It has to be fun and noisy when stretching its legs.

More importantly, the 64 reminded me of the dreams from my youth.  Suddenly its 1975 and I'm on my Schwinn Super leTour, racing to the traces of Cobra tailights.  I rewind the scene as Rick says "gonna accelerate now, don't let your head snap back"





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