All American Racer
In 1959, a chicken farmer turned racer scooped one of the biggest prizes in motor racing. His name was Carroll Shelby. The race was the Le Mans 24 Hours. He was driving an an Aston Martin DBR1/300, partnered by British racer Roy Salvadori.
Two years later Shelby’s relationship with animals took a nasty turn. Having admired the performance of the British made AC Ace at Le Mans, he formulated a plan to transform the delicate Ace into a car which gained a reputation to match its name. The AC Cobra.
Not surprisingly the insertion of a V8 engine into a lightweight chassis was going to produce fireworks. And it did. “Explosive” was how one writer at the time described its performance. Shelby of course was well aware of its potential so it was hardly surprising that the Cobra would be heading for the track. Although a medical condition which had been previously diagnosed prevented Shelby racing his protege, his team started to take wins against the much vaunted Corvettes of the time.
However Shelby had his eye on bigger things for the Cobra. A return to the scene of his most famous victory. Le Mans. Trouble was the muscular Cobra suprisingly lacked one important attribute for a snake. Slipperyness. Whilst good for 170mph, he knew 200mph had to be in reach to have a chance of success at Le Mans. So he and designer Peter Brock, Ken Miles and the small Shelby team got to work on a version to take on the Mulsanne Straight.
Thus was born the Shelby Daytona Cobra and the second chapter in a story that was to run and run, firmly embedding name of Carroll Shelby in the folklore of American high performance road and race cars (and a story we will return too later this year).
Now fast forward to 2003.
South African entrepreneur Jim Price decides to revive the Daytona Cobra. After discussions with Mr Shelby, the car was adopted as an official Shelby product and bears a chassis plate to prove it. The car, which is painstakingly handbuilt, combines the evocative styling of the original racers with the latest engineering. The standard engine boasts a mere 530bhp. The brave can opt for the supercharged GL LS3 engined version which is good for 650bhp!!
Performance? Not surprisingly, race quick. 0-60mph in under 4 seconds. 100mph comes up less than five seconds later. And a top speed of 200mph is on the cards. If you have the necessary cojones.
Now we know cars are very much a matter of personal taste. But ask yourself this.
Why buy a car made in the hundreds, if not thousands, by robots and lasers, when you could have a hand built, Le Mans racer, sanctioned by a legend?
It could be the best £131,000 you’ve ever spent.