289 Shelby Team Car

This was the whole point of the Cobra exercise – a light chassis bulging with bhp which would thrash GM’s Corvette at home and Ferrari’s GTs around europe. the early Cobras may have the ‘small’ V8 – only 4.7 litres – but these team cars, now fitted with rack and pinion steering, would dominate the domestic USRRC scene for three years, in a way
the later 7-litre cars never did.

One of six cars prepared for the ’63 sebring 12 hours, CsX2129 had a sensational season in the hands of shelby’s development driver Ken Miles, and Bob Bondurant and Bob Holbert, numerous podiums and class wins helping to collar three US championships and cement the Cobra legend. especially notable was the second place behind team-mate Carroll Shelby in the Bridgehampton 500, the Cobra duo beating privateer ferraris and e-types and helping to fuel shelby’s desire for the FIA GT Championship. But with its dated aerodynamics a roadster would never score on europe’s longer tracks; it would take the streamlined coupés for that.

Raced during 1964 by Graham Shaw, 2129 then returned to the works team and was put on display at the new York world fair. Under further owners it raced into the 1970s, but in the ’90s was restored to its unique works red livery.

Sleeker than the 427, a works team 289 with its narrow arch flares, prop-forward rollbar, quick-lift jack points, twin bullet mirrors and lean-back, or sometimes single wraparound, screen is perhaps the defining image of the racing Cobra.

Gordon Cruickshank