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As with many British specialist manufacturers, AC Cars had been using the smooth, refined Bristol straight-6 engine in its small-volume production, including its AC Ace 2-seater roadster. The engine was a pre-World War II BMW design which was by the 1960s considered remarkably outdated. Bristol, a small independent automobile manufacturer in its own right, decided in 1961 to cease production of its engine and instead to use Chrysler small-block V-8 engines. Non-plussed by this idea, AC started using the 2.6 liter Ford Zephyr in all of its cars. An idea was borne out of this concept and in September of that year, former champion racing driver Carroll Shelby approached AC about building a car that would accept a V-8 configuration. Chevrolet was not interested in providing their new 327ci V-8 due to too much direct competition with the Corvette, however Ford wanted a car that could compete with the radical new Sting Ray from across town. As luck would have it, they happened to have a brand new thin wall small block engine which could be used in this endeavor. The name Cobra came to Shelby “in a dream”, he recounted, and a legend was born.
If indeed the most sincere form of flattery is imitation, no automobile could enjoy a higher accolade than the Shelby American Cobra. The now famous brainchild of American icon Carroll Shelby, the early ‘small block’ 289 Cobra not only terrorized the competition on the world road racing stage but also captured the hearts of millions instantly to become the ultimate collectable for the savvy enthusiast.
Most Cobras of this era are restored, perhaps even over-restored to well beyond their originally-delivered specifications. Many do not convey with their original powertrain configuration, but this car has an important story: The original engine and transmission were taken out sometime in the late 60’s by the original owner in an effort to preserve the car’s originality. He had planned on racing and doing track days with the car so he removed the original components, put them on a stand, and they were displayed in his living room for almost 20 years. A “K Code” 289 was put in the car and that motor has stayed in the car for the last 40 years. In 1993 Lewis Sistrunk, the previous owner, had the “K Code” engine taken out and refreshed by Cobra Restorers Ltd. The engine has been balanced and blueprinted and has forged .030 pistons with FOMOCO high performance rods and heads. A folder with detailed specifications on “K Code” engine conveys to the new owner. It is a opportunity to have a wonderful driving 289 Cobra without the fear of destroying the original engine and transmission.
Invoiced to Shelby American, Inc. on the 25th of June, 1964, CSX 2492 sailed from London on the SS Loch Avon on the 10th of July and landed in Los Angeles less than a month later on the 7th of August. Its original invoice, made out to Gandols Ford Sales of Columbus, Ohio shows that the car was originally red over black and included the Group “A” accessories package comprising a tuned air cleaner, chrome aluminum valve covers, front grille guard, chrome wind wings, luggage rack, rear bumper guard and exhaust pipe tips, tinted sun visors, seat belts and whitewall tires for $280.50 over the price of the car. Additionally, chrome wire wheels were an additional $105 on top of this. Gandols sold the car to the late Russ Lamm of Columbus who, by the historical record kept the car until about 1969, when it passed into the hands of Marion ‘Chick’ Ford of neighboring New Albany, Ohio.
CSX 2492 benefits from an older restoration still showing superbly with an original interior emanating a wonderful patina and integrity. Moreover, refinished in the correct and original, highly desirable color combination of red exterior and black leather interior this Cobra also will be sold with the original numbers matching drivetrain. Thoroughly documented and detailed in the most recent edition of the Shelby American World Registry – CSX 2492 is truly a “no stories” example offered for the close scrutiny of the most discriminating aficionado.