By 1963 John Willment’s racing team was bursting with ambition. He was running Frank Gardner in Formula 1 and, fresh from a Le Mans class win with the hard-raced hardtop Cobra 39PH, he wanted one of Shelby’s new Daytona Coupes for the French event in 1964. When the US outfit wouldn’t sell him one, he looked at the spare chassis in his workshop and decided to build his own.
Helped by drawings Shelby sent, the team constructed an even lower-drag version, with chopped roof, lay-flat rear window and lower tail, on a strengthened chassis packing a 289 with quad downdraught Webers. With its right-hand wheel and Lucas electrics there was no doubting its place of birth. It wasn’t ready for Le Mans, but painted in the Willment red with white stripes and piloted by Jack Sears it won on its debut, the 3 Hours of Snefferton, and went on to a successful tour of South Africa under Sears and Bob Olthof.
Back in the UK for ’65, Frank Gardner ran it in the if and Sears won the Guards trophy at Brands, but though entered again it did not make the ’65 French classic it was built for. After Brian Muir took another victory in late 1966 it became redundant, overtaken by GT405, and was turned into a wild street car.
Thankfully it was rescued in the 1970s by vintage racer Amschel Rothschild before its value as a roadster outstripped its historic importance as a coupe, and he raced it frequently. Affer passing through several hands it is now with a private collector and normally on show at the Shelby American Collection.