The Shelby Daytona Best Sports Car in History is Cobra Coupe
The lesser-known of Carol Shelby’s famous Cobra’s sports car, the Cobra sports car was made in 1964, primarily because of the aerodynamic limitations of the 289 Cobra’s.
With its open cockpit and upright windshield, the Cobra’s hit an aerodynamic wall at 157 mph, and on a track like Lemans with its long straight, Shelby’s sports cars were not slippery enough to keep up with the dominating Ferraris. Interestingly, given modern aerodynamic knowledge, it was argued within the team that a coupe body would be heavier, and therefore slower.
Young designer Peter Brock provided Shelby sports car with sketches for a sleek coupe body, and within weeks, the body was formed and fitted to the existing Cobra chassis.
Powered by the same 289 Ford engine, the new aerodynamically superior body allowed what was essentially the same open Cobra to reach speeds up to 186 mph down Lemans Mulvane Straight. A huge gain and enough to really test Ferrari the Daytona saw instant success and won many races during their short racing career in 1964-65.
So immediate and significant was the success of the Daytona Coupe in that Renzo Ferrari was instrumental in having the last 1964 FIA World Sports Car round at Monza canceled, sensing a championship loss to Shelby’s new coupe
The abrupt end to the Cobra Daytona Coupe’s factory-backed racing life came from Ford deciding to invest in the GT40 project rather than the Cobra. During the cross over the period, it’s interesting to note that a Cobra Coupe never lost a race to a GT40.
Only six Cobra Daytona Coupes were ever produced, one in America and five in Italy, and no two were alike. The roofline of the cars a significant difference, with the Italian built cars featuring a much flatter roof and more upright windscreen than that of the American built cars (and as a result were some 15 M.P.H. slower).
The Cobra Daytona Coupes are often referred to by their chassis numbers and the major achievement of that particular vehicle;
In American racing livery, the Cobra Daytona Coupes wore Viking Blue (light blue) with thin white GT stripes
or Guardsman Blue (dark blue) with thick white GT stripes. The distinctive Kim tail was often painted in half blue, half white.
In French racing livery, CSX 2300 wore White paint with Red and Blue stripes
In Swiss racing livery, CSX 2602 wore Red paint with White stripes.
The Cobra Daytona Coupe’s Driver’s line-up reads like a who’s who of 60’s race driving talent, with Chris Ammon, Bob Bondurant, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Dave MacDonald, Johan Near patch, and Jo Schlossberg, just some of the men to have ‘peddled’ Carol Shelby’s sports car is iconic Cobra.