Shelby Cobra Daytona: the only who managed to break the Ferrari 250 GTO


Developed on the AC Cobra, the Daytona he wore his tubular chassis with a sharp body.

The history of Carroll Shelby in the decades of the fifties and sixties are one of the best chapters of all the extensive history of the racing sports of the united States. Although his name is more associated with the Shelby Cobra, the legendary model that was born from the union of the lightweight chassis of the AC Ace british and a V8 engine of origin, Ford, the reality is that the model that most success and international fame it brought, in addition to be able to fulfill his dream of beating Ferrari was the now less well-known Cobra Daytona.

Over the years, Carroll Shelby, with the support of Ford, they tried to beat the then all-powerful Ferrari precisely in its field, the championship of the world of sports. For which, they developed the lightweight and powerful Cobra that nevertheless had a significant deficit, the tip speed. Framed within the category of Gran Turismo, the most significant opponent of the Cobra was nothing less than the Ferrari 250 GTO, with its sharp body was able to reach close to 50 km/h more than the sport of Carroll Shelby. So in the vast straights of Le Mans, it came to him to penalize up to 10 seconds per lap, despite the excellent performance in the curves of the Cobra, thanks to its power and maneuverability.

To resolve this problem, Shelby decided to open the Cobra with Pete Brock, who made the first design on the workshop floor of Carroll Shelby in Venice, California. Thus was born the first Cobra Daytona, and the only one to be made interestingly in the united States, since out of the six units that were assembled in total, the last five were manufactured in the facilities of Carrozzeria Grandsport in Modena, Italy.


The Cobra Daytona in your stand in Le Mans 2016.

Taking as a basis the tubular frame of the Cobra, just saved with this distance between axes. The mechanical was a V8 of origin Ford 289 cubic inches, or 4.74 liters powered by 4 Weber carburetors. With a power of about 390 HP at approximately 9,000 rpm, the Cobra Daytona over in almost 100 horses to the Ferrari 250 GTO, that had about 300 HP in the early versions of 3.0 liters of V12. Achieving speeds of around 190 mph, about 305 km/h.

in Addition to the frame, the set of suspensions and the rear-wheel drive were taken from the AC Shelby Cobra Mark II. However, the design of the body almost blurs the little aerodynamic AC Cobra. After the long hood, we find a stylish cabin which ends abruptly in the style Kammback finished off by a spoiler fixed, with the rear panel of concave shape. The sharp front reduced the input of central air Cobra’s and acquired new headlights, cowlings by two plastic covers. The complete design has a profile and structure very similar precisely to those of the Ferrari 250 GTO.

The Italian model was unbeatable between 1962 and 1964, winning the World Championship in the category of more than 2.0 litres for three consecutive years. But the arrival of the Cobra Daytona in 1964 he put against the strings to the model from Maranello, who managed to win finally the Championship of the World by only 6 points of advantage in front of the new Cobra body building, although the new Cobra Daytona earned the victory in its class at Le Mans. In 1965 finally, Carroll Shelby achieved his dream, beating Ferrari back in Le Mans in addition to obtaining the World Championship of the specialty, winning eight of the eleven races of the season.


six copies of The Cobra Daytona lined up at the Goodwood Revival 2015.

The Cobra Daytona was therefore the first american model, not only in getting to topple Ferrari in its field, in addition to was the first to win the World Championship of sporting in their specialty. After 1965, the rules of the specialty they changed and left out of phase to the Cobra Daytona, which was then in full form. During 1964 Ford commissioned Carroll Shelby to the direction of the then-fledgling program GT40 started with Lola and all their efforts the following seasons would be focused in that direction, leaving almost the entire project Cobra Daytona.

In total were made of only 6 copies, which have survived until our days with an amazing track record sporting in some cases. Currently all are located and identified and are in the hands of collectors, museums, or experts. A drive of the Cobra Daytona came to reach a few of the prices at auction by the highest achieved by a vehicle american, little more than $ 7 million which converted it in the third issue of the list of models of that country that they have paid more in a public auction.

The copy that appears in the photographs, we were able to watch it in person at the exhibition ‘Americans at Le Mans’, one of the side events that took place in this latest edition of the legendary event of the French resistance and where we also find the newly restored Corvette Cunningham number 1, a model discovered relatively recently after being gone for more than 30 years. The specimen, which was not properly identified, it seems to be that corresponds to the rack number CSX2602, made in September 1964 by Carrozzeria Grandsport in Italy. Differing from this in just a few elements, such as exterior rearview mirrors, which seem to have been installed recently.


The Cobra Daytona in your stand in Le Mans 2016.

This made his debut in the 2000 kilometers of Daytona in 1965, finishing second after another Cobra Daytona, the same position it held months after the race at the Nürburgring. Your participation in Le Mans ended with a abandonment and in the last few years has been seen in events such as the Goodwood Revival, where in 2015, met with the other five original copies of the Cobra Daytona, driven by Bernard Thuner and the Turkish Claude Nahum.