Shelby American Can-Am Cobra Group 7
The GT category of the U.S. Road Racing Championship was perfect for Shelby to demonstrate the performance of his new Cobras, and they competed in the USRRC from the very beginning. The team from Venice, California also built and raced in the sports-racer category, but by the end of 1964, it was apparent that the lure of the USRRC’s prize money and publicity was attracting the attention of specialists. Cars from Lola, Chaparral, McLaren and others were going to dominate in the future.
Ford and Shelby turned their attention to achieving the long sought goal of defeating Ferrari. After winning the sports car manufacturer’s title in 1965, in 1966 they swept the first three places at both Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and won at Sebring, achieving the goals of Henry Ford II and Carroll Shelby. It was time for Shelby to take another look at the USRRC and specifically the six-race Fall series known as the Canadian-American Challenge Series, the Can-Am.
Announced in early 1966, the SCCA-sanctioned Can-Am was positioned to catch the attention of European teams and drivers in North America for the two season-ending grands prix, the USGP and the Mexican GP. SCCA put together six tracks, assembled an unprecedented prize fund and announced the rules: FIA Group 7.
They specified two doors of at least a certain size, two seats on each side of the body centerline in a cockpit of set minimum dimensions, envelope bodywork covering the wheels, minimum weight and wheelbase. That was it.
Shelby still had plenty to do in 1967, and they turned to freelance designer Len Terry, who with Frank Nichols of Elva owned Transatlantic Automotive Consultants. Terry seized upon the loose Group 7 rules to create, in only a short period of time, an innovative, aerodynamic design. Based on an aluminum monocoque center structure, Terry’s principal innovation was the suspension.
It used at both front and rear a single transversely mounted coil spring compressed by rocker arms on the upper suspension control arms. Conventional tubular shock absorbers controlled suspension movement and allowed coil springs to be mounted over them in case the radical suspension proved troublesome. The system allowed body roll to be controlled by anti-sway bars independently of the effect of the stiffness of the suspension springs, giving it unusual adaptability and adjustability.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
435 hp, 351 cu. in. Ford V8 engine, five-speed manual ZF transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension with transverse-mounted coil springs, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel