Of all the great 1960s sports cars, few are as influential or as infamous as the legendary Shelby Cobra. A fortunate partnership between AC and their lightweight British sports car, and Le Mans-winning driver Carroll Shelby resulted in the latest Ford lightweight V-8 sitting in the European fettled chassis of the Ace.
The result of this transplant contributed enormously to Ford’s motorsport dominance of International Sports Car racing during the late 1960s. European chassis dynamics partnered with the power of the new V-8 meant that in competition trim, Cobras achieved an impressive record.
The 260ci (4.2-litre) prototype first ran in January 1962, with production commencing later that year. Exclusively for the USA initially, Cobras - minus engines - were sent from England to be finished off by Shelby in California, and it was not until late in 1963 that AC Cars in Thames Ditton got around to building the first fully finished cars to European specification. After 75 cars had been built, the 289ci (4.7-litre) unit was standardised in 1963. Rack-and-pinion steering was the next major up-date; then in 1965 a new, stronger, coil-suspended chassis was introduced to accommodate Ford's 427ci (7.0-litre) V8, an engine that in race trim was capable of producing well in excess of 400bhp. Wider bodywork, extended wheelarch flares and a bigger radiator intake combined to create the definitive - and often imitated - Cobra 427 look.
Today in Historic Racing, the "Pre 63" era of race series is one of the very best in the Historic Motorsport Scene blessed with some of the most beautiful racing cars ever produced such as the Ferrari 250 SWBs, 250 GTOs, Aston Martin DB4 GTs, early AC Cobras (260ci items only) and the early Jaguar E-Types which are distinguished from the later “Semi Lightweight” variants by their wire wheels, bumpers and SU Carburettors. Not only does the grid look much “prettier” than the later Pre-66 Grids but the cars have noticeably less grip leading to wonderful racing which has proved such a delight that it spawned in 2016 a new race at the Goodwood Revival – The “Kinrara Trophy” which has since become the new highlight of the Revival Meeting. Laterly it has been renamed the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy and will usually be the opening race of the event into the dusk on Friday evening. This success and appeal has been noted in Europe as well with the establishment of a complimentary series under the Peter Auto umbrella too.
Retaining the original narrow-bodied lines of the AC Ace, this rare 260 (denoted as such due to the engine having 260 cubic inches of capacity) was from the genesis of the relationship of Caroll Shelby with the humble British sports car, from a time before the elegant and simplistic form of the AC gave way the flared arches and wide tyres of the 289, and the later and even more evolved 427.
This specific car was invoiced to Shelby American on 25th October 1962, and was optioned with aluminium rocker arm covers, wind-wings, sun visors, front and rear bumpers, chrome exhaust tips and a heater. It was shipped to Los Angeles where SS Research & Development would handle its sale to famed racer John Razelle of Seattle. It was then raced successfully in the Pacific Northwest by Razelle who consistently demonstrated the strengths of the Cobra.
Highlights of the car's period racing history include breaking the record at the Mount Douglas Hillclimb by over three seconds, and the feared pair of Razelle and the white Cobra becoming a staple of the Westwood Racing Circuit in British Columbia, after winning there by over twelve seconds in 1964. The pair would continue their campaign, which involved further wins over multiple seasons, in other SCCA circuit and Hillclimb events.
Following its racing career, the car was purchased by W. E. Thomason in Missouri in 1982. CSX 2035 was then sold to Dale Bliss in Oklahoma in 1987. The car remained in the U.S. until 1988, when it was sold by Robs Lamplough and subsequently shipped to England. The car was registered in the UK from this point and went up for sale after being bought by Bill Harding of Hall & Hall in 2006.
After passing through an owner who used the Cobra as a road vehicle on the Isle of Man, its next custodian elected to have a comprehensive, total and faithful restoration performed on the car by Pursuit Racing, which culminated in 2022, and brought the car back to its initial racing specification where it raced at the Silverstone Classic and the Goodwood Revival in that year. Just as how CSX 2035 was succesful in period, the car once again got to display its performance for its time, post restoration, when it achieved overall victory in the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy at the 80th edition of the Goodwood Members' Meeting in early 2023 (for 2023 this race was moved to the Members' Meeting instead of the Revival and will in 2024 likely feature once again at the Revival).
This highly eligible and rare period race car, which crucially is one of only a handful of the very early 260 variant, are the only Cobras allowed to race in pre-1963 events such as the Goodwood Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy. Due to the popularity of the Goodwood event it is almost critical that one must present a car not only in period specification, but also with period racing history in order that it may receive an entry. Owing to their light weight, and the large and powerful 4.2 litre Ford V-8 engine, 260 Cobras are distinctly the most performant cars in their class, and this proven example presents an unmatched opportunity to continue the story of an early Cobra’s racing history.