We met the nicest people, Jim and Donna Ward from Arlington, VA. They are the proud owners of an original Shelby Cobra.
The title of the blog came from the story Jim told about Carroll Shelby signing the owner's manual. Jim saw no need for Carroll to sign the car since it was obvious that it was a Carroll Shelby creation. He did, however, want him to sign the owner's manual. Carroll did but commented that it was a Shelby Cobra and not an AC Cobra as the owner's manual said. That's when he marked through AC and wrote Shelby instead.
Carroll was a true marketer as well as all the other accomplishments on his resume.
Here's the story of CSX2574:
The car is equipped with a 289 cubic inch engine built by Carroll Carter. Carroll Carter is a well known race engine builder. The HP is dyno rated at 430 at the flywheel. Not bad for a 2000# car, but that was the whole idea of the Cobra. Big american HP in a nimble chassis with a light body. The car also has the lightweight aluminum transmission case. Mr. Carter had the case and decided that putting it in Jim's car was a good idea. I don't think Jim put up much of a fight.
When Jim bought the car it was set up as a drag race car. Complete with fender flares and a hole in the bonnett for the supercharger. When Jim made the decision to have the car restored they searched for quite a long time to find someone with the credentials and skill to do the restoration as it should be done. The person they found was Bill Murray. Shelby Cobra folks will know that name.
The car was completely disassembled, the fender flares were removed, the hole in the bonnett was repaired and all the body panels were rerolled. Apparently this is the best way to get everything straight. With steel cars they can put a skim coat of Bondo on and then sand it almost completely off to make sure the body is straight. Aluminum is different. I'm sure some of the body guys out there can explain this better than me. All I know is that the car is absolutely perfect.
The paint is 1966 Ferrari red. The paint color is important because we all know the story of Carroll Shelby and his history with Enzo Ferrari. 1966 is the year Carroll and Ford beat Ferrari at Les Mans and it's Ferrari red to fly in the face of Enzo. Wikipedia will give you the whole story of Carroll Shelby and Enzo Ferrari but basically Carroll found out that Enzo had no regard for his drivers, one of whom was Carroll Shelby, or their safety. That's when he began his quest to beat Ferrari at Les Mans. Carroll Shelby and Ford partnered to build the GT40 for the specific purpose of winning the 24 hours of Les Mans. That's exactly what they did in 1966. The GT 40 has won more prestigious race events than any other model road-race car in history.
After the car was restored Jim didn't have the money to pay for it. Therefore it went to the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, CO. Jim was told he could come and get the car but he refused until he had the money to pay for the restoration. That kind of character in a man is a rare thing and it was obvious when we were talking to him that he was a man of integrity. Before the car was restored it was stored by John Girard for about 20 years. John was with Jim and they are great pals and have been for practically all of their lives.
Barry and I were very fortunate to meet these folks. They weren't some super rich couple with a million dollar car. They seemed like regular folks just like us. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time when it came to the car. In fact at one point in the car's history Donna drove it to work for about two years. I think that was before the Cobra became famous. No doubt they have had problems in their lives just like all of us and just like all of us they persevered and came out the other end with a few scars but basically in tact.
Jim, Donna and the Cobra were at Mid-Ohio for the SAAC (Shelby American Automobile Club) 41st. annual convention. There were tons of Shelby's there. Mostly the Mustang versions. Jim and Donna's Cobra won Best of Show at this convention. CONGRATULATIONS Jim, Donna, and John.
Here are the photos I took of the car when Jim was kind enough to get it out of the trailer for us and other car guys to look at it.