Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster Le Mans Racing Car

Carroll Shelby’s concept was simple enough. Take the lightweight, well-proven Ace roadster built by AC Cars and turn it into a world-beating production racer by replacing its aging six-cylinder engine with a lightweight, powerful and reliable American engine: Ford’s new thin wall casting 260 cubic inch V8. At least that was the plan. The AC drive-train would require extensive modifications in the development process.

Fortunately, Shelby’s enterprise began just as Lance Reventlow closed his Scarab shop in Venice, California. Shelby moved his operations as the first Cobra chassis arrived from AC, not only acquiring a fully equipped race car construction facility, but also the services of Phil Remington, whose experience spanned everything from hot rods to USAC Champ cars and whose skills as a fabricator were legendary.

Carroll Shelby had already initiated homologation paperwork with the FIA to make the Cobra eligible for international competition. His goal was nothing less than bringing home to the United States the FIA’s World Manufacturers Championship.

In April 1963, as the Cobra was demonstrating its speed and improving its reliability in American competition, the team quickly prepared two cars for Le Mans that summer. They were the most highly developed of all the early Cobras. Features included Dunlop magnesium wheels with larger fender flares, FIA hood scoops and a 37 gallon fuel tank with a quick release fuel filler. The engines, stated to be “moderate tune,” had four Weber downdraught carburettors.

One team car, entered by AC Cars, managed by Stirling Moss and driven by Bolton/ Sanderson, finished 7th overall, 3rd in the GT category and won the 4-5 litre class. This success resulted in the construction of six more Cobras designated as Le Mans versions by Shelby and built with rack and pinion steering.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

330+ hp, 289 cu. in. V8 engine, four Weber 48 IDM downdraught carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with transverse leaf springs, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,286 mm (90")

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright ACME

Gallery: Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster Le Mans Racing Car