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 much copied - Cobra 427 look.
This example was billed to Shelby American on the 14th May 1964 and shipped to the USA just twelve days later aboard the SS Diemerdyk, the first Holland America Line ship to be built after the war. The car was optioned new in Rouge Iris over Beige with the Class A accessories pack. The Class 'A' Accessories package added five chrome wire wheels, white wall tyres, luggage rack, outside rear-view mirror, an AM-FM radio, and antifreeze, and the car when new, totalled $5,800.05.
It was supplied new by Shelby American to the Ford Motor Company in Michigan to used for sales promotion and PR. It would return to Shelby American in early 1965 at 5,177 miles to be prepared for sale. The car received a mechanical overhaul and a full repaint for an invoice totalling $720. These works took place over the course of a couple of months and the car was ready for its new owner in May 1965. Shelby American sold the car to Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, less the hard top and wire wheels for just $1,000 less than list price. Hi-Performance would sell the car to Roger Moon of Paso Robles, a town halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The car would pass through Moon, to Ralph Bouchett and in the mid-1970s, to Tim Zurbriggen. It had been painted black and 5-spoke American Racing wheels were fitted. In 1979, the car was placed into storage.
In 1983, the car was purchased by William ‘Billy’ & Christine Kincheloe of California. A comprehensive restoration of the car would take 9 years, the restoration would be carried out by Mike McCluskey of McCluskey Ltd. Having worked alongside Carroll Shelby restoring Cobras at the age of just 20, McCluskey would become the go-to name for their restoration in the USA and, despite originally parting ways with Shelby himself to set up his own business, it would be McCluskey Ltd whom Carroll Shelby would contact personally and task with the building of continuation Cobras in 1989.
The restoration took time and no doubt the cost of the process played a role in slow progress. The Kincheloe’s were huge fans of the Cobra and American motorsport. Billy’s father had raced an Austin Healey 100/6 in the D-Class World Championship in 1960 and without doubt his passion and fastidious attention to detail would be passed down to the family line.
The Kincheloe’s were immensely active socially in the Shelby American Automobile Club and the accompanying history file features a wealth of stickers, invitations, memorabilia, trophies and photographs from their time with the car. From when the car was completed in 1993 to when he parted ways with the Cobra in 2015, Billy kept a detailed logbook of each of his drives. This logbook accurately helps to date the wealth of photos and includes wonderful anecdotes and tales from his ownership. Billy and Christine affectionately named the Cobra ‘Ellen’.
03.01.1993 – Car arrives home after 10 yr rebuild - It rains for 13 consecutive days; the most rain LA’s had in 7 yrs!
21.01.1993 – Take car out for a small ride (to Prezzo to show off)
23.01.1993 – 2nd Ride …loads up, loves the freeway (3 miles) HAULS ASS- whew! – X H I L E R A T I N G!!!
The logbook documents mileage, servicing and visits to events including the 1995 Ford Motor Company Mustang fantasy, where Billy proudly parked the Cobra alongside an attending guest: a P-51 Mustang. A further chance encounter in 1996 at Willow Springs saw the Cobra help introduce the Kincheloe’s to an active Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force.
12.05.1996 – PS Met Lt/Col Bozek – HE FLIES THE SR71 @ Edwards. Invited me to come see ‘The Bird’ – a dream come true.
Fortunately for us all, Billy took the Cobra to visit 'The Bird' and a wonderful photo was taken of the pair together.
The last entry to the log notes the sale of the Cobra in 2016 to Marc Devis in Belgium. ‘A new adventure awaits, history continues, ‘Ellen’, thanks for the ride’. Shortly after its arrival in Belgium the car was sold to its current owner in the UK.
Since 2016, this Cobra has been used sparingly covering just 500 miles since its arrival. Service work has been seen to by Steve Gilbey Classics, and the car will be inspected by our workshops as part of the sale. This fantastic Cobra is available to view at our showrooms outside London immediately, ready to be used and enjoyed by its next custodian.
Please note the cherished registration is not part of the sale and the car will revert to its period registration mark.