The First Three Shelby Cobras – The Sports Cars that Changed the Game

The First Three Shelby Cobras – The Sports Cars that Changed the Game is the The First Three Shelby Cobras - The sports cars that changed the gamefourth in the Exceptional Cars series from Porter Press. Produced with the same handsome attention to details as their other books, this volume details the story of three cars important to modern sports car history and Cobras in particular –  the first AC Cobras created by the legendary Carroll Shelby in 1962.

The prototype Cobra, CSX2000, has been described as ‘the most important modern American car’, although it was built on a British AC Ace chassis with an American Ford V8 engine. CSX2001 was the first production Cobra and CSX2002 the first to race, leading to a series of competition successes that made Shelby’s Cobras famous and a favorite of sports-car enthusiasts throughout the world.

  • CSX2000 was the only prototype Cobra and was retained by the Shelby family until 2016 when it sold at auction for a record $13.75 million.
  • The first production car, CSX2001, was delivered to American race driver Ed Hugus, and subsequently sold to a Frenchman, Jean-Marie Vincent, who raced in the Tour de France and numerous European hill climbs.
  • CSX2002 nearly won its inaugural race, at Riverside, driven by Bill Krause, but was sidelined by a broken rear hub. The first Cobra win, by this car, fell to Dave MacDonald at Tucson in March 1963.
  • All three cars are now the pride of car collections in the United States. CSX2000 and CSX2002 are part of the Larry Miller Collection, while CSX2001 belongs to a California-based motorsport aficionado Bruce Meyer.

The First Three Shelby Cobras - The Sports Cars that Changed the Game

The First Three Shelby Cobras documents these cars not only through scrupulous technical records and data but through both period and current photographs. This lets the reader see the changes and developments between the cars and also how each car itself was changed over time.  In addition, there are stories from the people who drove and experienced the cars as they were intended – on the track.

One of the section of this book that particularly amused me is titled “A Few Cobra Curiosities”. This includes brief descriptions of Cobra related items from songs to deodorant.  I still remember the Carol Shelby chili mix that used to be available at the local grocery.

A Few Cobra Curiosities

The author, Gordon Bruce, is a qualified mechanical engineer. He was the Road Test Editor of Motor magazine and then a Ford PR manager before founding the eponymous marketing consultancy he still operates 35 years later. His first book concerned the Ford GT40, for which he was awarded a prize by the Guild of Motoring Writers. His associations with the AC/Shelby Cobra date from 1983, when he won the Intermarque Championship in a 405bhp example.

The First Three Cobras

The First Three Shelby Cobras is a great addition to any car lover’s library and should be available for purchase by the time you read this. As a side note, a future title in Exceptionalonal Cars series will be on the iconic Aston Martin Ulster which helped define British racing circuits in the 1930s.  We cannot wait to get our hands on that one.

Title: The First Three Shelby Cobras – The Sports Cars that Changed the Game
Author: Gordon Bruce
Publisher: Porter Press
Date Published: March 2018
Pages: 128
ISBN: 1907085556
Price: $38.67£30.00

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.