1963 Shelby AC Cobra


CSX2020, Real Early “Slabside” Shelby AC Cobra

This 1963 Shelby AC Cobra was born to race. It was an early production Cobra built by AC Cars in the United Kingdom, then shipped to the U.S. where it was further modified, fitted with a Shelby built drive train and rear end and tuned by Carroll Shelby’s company, Shelby American.

The British call it an AC Cobra, while here in America it is most often referred to as a Shelby Cobra. Either way the Shelby AC Cobra is the most recognized car in the world. In the 1960’s AC Cars in Britain had been building a little two-seater sports car called the AC Ace. It was a hand 1963 Shelby AC Cobrabuilt aluminum body car with tube chassis. Carroll Shelby wrote to them asking if they could modify this car to accept a small block V8 engine. History happened.

The first 75 cars shipped to Shelby beginning in 1962 had the Ford HiPo 260 ci V8 engine installed. The next 51 cars were given the Ford HiPo 289/271 horsepower. These were what are referred to as the first “slabside” Cobras. Most of the original 260 ci Windsor motors were replaced at Shelby American with the HiPo 289.

The first Cobra was completed by Shelby at Dean Moon’s shop in Sante Fe Springs in February of 1962. That was number CSX2000 which you can see displayed at the Shelby Museum at Shelby American in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 1963 Shelby AC Cobra you see featured on this page is CSX 2020, one of the very early built “slabside” Cobras. Although Shelby originally installed a 260 Windsor Ford engine it soon was given a 289 ci V8 at the Shelby factory. Gullwing Motor Cars in Astoria, New York is offering this early Shelby Cobra for sale. They tell us it is the first competition car which was 1963 Shelby AC Cobrasold to a private party all set up for racing. Phil Long Ford was the original owner. They rented it to Chuck Frederick for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1965 where he took third place.

The second owner was Bob Nelson who also raced it in SCCA events. Mr. Nelson raced and rallied the car with SCCA in the Colorado region competing in such events as the Butterfield Trail Rally and Seven Trails Rally Mr. Nelson continued to race this Cobra into the early 70’s. The car was placed into storage in 1972 with approximately 100,000 miles on the vehicle – Mr. Nelson moved to New Jersey in the mid 1980’s and brought the car with him. He then sold the car to Investment Motor Sports in 1987. It was subsequently bought in 1987 at the Palm Springs Auction by John & Colleen Hall of Santa Monica, California. Either they or one of the dealers put the car back in mostly street trim as it was in this configuration when the next owner purchased the car.

Mike Poppiti of Wilmington, Delaware, purchased the car in 1992. Mike fully restored the car – at a shop in California noted for doing Cobras at the time. His purpose was to  make sure it could be driven on the streets of Wilmington and shown at SAAC (Shelby American Automobile Club) events and other venues. During this time, the ex-SCCA national Champion and owner of Alderman Automotive did setup work on the Webers for Mike. He showed the car at three SAAC events: 1993 Watkins Glen taking first place People’s Choice, 1996 LimeRock Park where he repeated his first place and again in 2000 at LimeRock Park again taking first place. The car was on display at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia, and then was taken to the 2012 SAAC again held at Watkins Glen where the car repeated its string of first places finishes, again claiming first in People’s Choice.

The current owner purchased the car in 2010. With some minor cleaning and setup work the car began to be shown at local small shows and then was placed on display at the Simeone Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Then it returned to the 2012 SAAC  event held at Watkins Glen where the car repeated its string of first places finishes, again claiming first in People’s Choice.

The documentation and Simeone Museum paperwork on this car are extensive, according to Gullwing Motor Cars. The 1963 Shelby AC Cobra CSX2020 is currently available for sale.

This car has been SOLD.

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