How does a legendary American car disappear for 30 years?


If this car could talk, it would describe a road to fame with all the ups and downs of a Hollywood co-star.

The prototype of only six models ever built was the first American car to defeat Ferrari with its own turf, once flooded by flames in Daytona, was driven around Los Angeles by a musician and then sat down for 30 years in a warehouse unit – leading many to believe it was lost.

The extraordinary vehicle was the intellectual child of an American car legend, which used it to win championships and record speed. Once recovered from the dusty carved wood, the car sparked a legal battle of several million dollars for its property.

Today, 50 years after its construction, the original Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is finally in its right place – a museum founded by its current owner.

A car with a shipment

As the name implies, the car was created by American car maker Carroll Shelby, who wanted to beat the Italian designer Enzo Ferrari.

He had already done as a driver with Aston Martin, winning the famous FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1959, a series that dominated the "strange horse".

Shelby in Le Mans in an Aston Martin, 1959.

Shelby in Le Mans in an Aston Martin, 1959. Credit: Hulton / Getty Images file

But in 1963, years after Shelby had closed her racing gloves, she wanted to win as a manufacturer – with an American car in that.wi

Shelby designed his dream machine based on a previous cursor he developed, the AC Cobra Roadster.
He hired designer Pete Brock to build the car for maximum speed – something he would need in the legendary Mulsanne 3 miles straight in Le Mans, the most important race in the championship.

Thus the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which was manufactured with moderate means compared to today's standards, was born in a shop in Venice, California.

At that time, American cars were not very competitive, says Fred Simeone, the current owner of the car and founder of the Simeone Museum, where he is currently showing.

"If you look at the history of sports car racing, America has contributed little by then compared to England, Italy, Germany and even France," he said.

Daytonas was ready to change it. The matches gave them well during their girlfriend in 1964 with a special victory in their class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – "The Superbowl of the Race," says Simeone. But despite overtaking the Corvettes, Lolas, Porsches and Alfas, the Daytonas still finished the championship behind the powerful Ferrari GTOs.

In 1965, Shelby took the first place – the first American racing team to do so – taking 9 of 12 events in their class, with crucial victories in even more historic races such as the 24 hour Hour of Daytona, the Grand Prix in Monza and the exhausting 1,000-kilometer race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, a 14-mile-long forest road that the hero Jackie Stewart would later call "The Green Hell."

Shelby had beaten Ferrari. The legend of Cobra Daytona Coupe was born.

Enter "CSX2287"

The car built by Shelby in Venice remained the only one in America. Five more were sent as modules in Modena, Italy – just below Ferrari's nose – where the bodywork was completed nicely and quickly.

The CSX2287 fire in Daytona. Credit: From the collections of Henry Ford

This original car, frame number CSX2287, was therefore already separate.

He was also lucky, surviving a fire, and refitted Daytona in 1964 – an incident that cost the race, but not the car.

And to many, it was beautiful – full Le Mans lanes, two white belts that ran the length of the car over it Blue Viking color, a pattern that has since become iconic and closely linked to Cobras designed by Shelby as Ford's production cars.

His style had the essence to match. After winning the 1965 championship, the car, which was somewhat withdrawn from his lap, still had a great speed and had the opportunity to prove it.

Accelerate in salt

On November 6, 1965, the CSX2287 had not fought for months, but the opportunity was presented to take it to Bonneville Salt Flats to fight the clock and write history.

Over four days, the car set 23 national and international speed records, reaching a top speed of 187 miles per hour.

1965 Shelby Daytona - salt flat

The CSX2287 at Bonneville Salt Flats, led by Craig Breedlove, the five-year-old record holder. Credit: courtesy museum simeone / michael furman

This was the last roar of the lion. Shelby then sold the Daytona prototype – at that point a bit more than a tired old prototype – to Jim Russell, the founder of a game car company called Russkits, for $ 4,500.

And there begins the most odd part of the story.

The wall of the (audio) engine

Daytona landed shortly in the hands of eccentric producer Phil Spector, 26 years old. He wrote the car files by painting houses on the doors – ridiculously too – and began to drive him around Los Angeles.

It was not the first time the car had seen off a route, as Shelby himself did several test runs on Marina del Rey with the manufacturer's plate.

But, as fast as possible, Spector put as many tickets as his attorney finally proposed to get rid of him. Added to it, it was away from a smooth ride and became hot as hell after a few miles.

This was not sunset lane cruiser, but an angry purebred racer, after all.

Spector wanted to fix these issues, but the cost was so high that he was supposed to offer it for $ 800 instead. Luckily he knew better and sold it to George Brand's bodyguard for $ 1,000.

Brand gave the car to his daughter, Donna O'Hara, who then did the unthinkable – hid it in a storage facility in California.

hidden treasure

Just because O'Hara made the conscious decision to save Daytona alone, paying the rent every month for 30 years, no one knows.

Over the years, the interest we have got around the car and received many offers for it, but has always been denied. "He would forbid anyone who said he was interested in the car," said Simeone.

Carroll Shelby himself went to see the car but did not open the door for himself

Fred Simeone

"Carroll Shelby himself went to see her to see the car and would not even open the screen door to talk to him, she was widely known to have, but she was also well known that you could not contact her. people have left the transition for that. "

"A very realistic offer"

As a result, the CSX2287 remained untouched from 1971 to 2001.

The car in the current state.

The car in the current state. Credit: courtesy museum simeone / michael furman

With the help of a lawyer, Martin Eyears, car collector and retired neurosurgeon Frederick Simeone eventually managed to convince Donna O'Hara to sell him the car for an amount he preferred not to disclose but was believed to be about $ 4 million.

"It was the tenacity and timing, the right place at the right time that produced the sale and a very realistic offer," he says.

In 2008, he founded the Simeone Automobile Museum in his native Philadelphia, where the car is now among 65 other classic runners.

"My criteria for collecting is an important story, the original situation, American origin whenever possible and beauty. At the time of purchase, in 2001, the only car I did not fit all these criteria was Cobra Daytona Coupe, so I really wanted it really bad, "he says.

What happened next is the darkest part of the story – "I hate to say, this is a happy story and the bottom of it is a downer. [O’Hara] welcomed the proceeds of the sale to her mother and then burned. This was after the agreement was completed. "

A difficult consequence

The shocking drop of the owner sparked a legal battle around the car that lasted for months. "The aftermath of the sale was more difficult than the sale itself, because when the word began between the car community that the car was discovered and bought from a private party, many people desperately wanted to buy it and asked a judge to put it for public sale "Says Simeone.

The consequence of the sale was more difficult than the sale itself

Fred Simeone

Even Phil Spector, through Robert Shapiro's lawyer – famous for being one of O.J. Simpson's advocacy consultants – claimed ownership by saying he never sold the car to his bodyguard, but gave him only for custody. (Spector was convicted of second degree murder in 2009 and is currently in jail).

"Everybody would like to have a story," Simeone says, "But the judge rightly concluded that it had already been sold legally."

Modern myth

It's hard to say how much the car is worth today, 14 years after the sale.

The other five Daytonas – produced in Italy – are all in the hands of private collectors, with one sold at auction in 2009 for $ 7.5 million. It is safe to assume that the CSX2287 would bring much more, since it is the first prototype, it is the latest Daytona in competition and – unlike others – it is still in its original state without replacing parts and dyeing.

The inside of the CSX2287 today, in its original state. Credit: Courtesy of the Simeone / Michael Furman Museum

"The car was in excellent condition out of storage, all the original bits were there, there were no tracks," says Simeone.

"Only the front edge was struck in, so we had to get it because it was just too ugly, the rest of the color was dull but intact, and all we had to do was get rid of the oxidation and come out a lot The only ones we had to replace ended up are brake lines and few wiring harnesses. "

Phil Spector's five-year ownership did not hurt him too much. "He just had the wallpaper put it, that's it, and he put some writing on the side of the car, painting home, but we were able to do that," says Simeone.

Cars run well, even with the original tires, and have led many times for performances and demonstrations, although they are no longer racing.

"We have a small problem with some people who think we should, but it is pointless and would risk destroying it. We want to keep it for the next generations," added Simeone.

A place in history

The CSX2287 was the first car – and one of the seven so far – included in the National Record of Historic Vehicles, placing it in the same category as the American icons such as the Statue of Liberty and the Space Shuttle.

It was built in a shop and was designed on a sheet of paper butcher

Michael Gessler

It was also named the 2014 Car of the Year in the International Historic Cars Awards, the classic car's Oscar – the first American car to win the prize.
"It was built in a shop and designed on a sheet of butcher paper, just at the end of an era that could have made something so simple and winning on an international level," said Mark Gessler, president of the historic vehicle federation.

Great design and story that is read as a Hollywood manuscript, this car is the material of the legend.

"The virtual precursor of a winning race," as Simeone puts it, which has begun America's small yet glorious dominance in the race.

The CSX2287 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe appears at Simeone Car Museum, in Philadelphia.