Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: Shelby Cobra Fifty Years... incredibly well done book

the inside cover shot is terrific, and that is the way the rest of the book carries on, it's terrific.

The author, Colin Comer, is an enthusiast, researcher, racer, and owner of a couple Cobras, perhaps sequentially and not simultaneously... but I point out that this author is not just a research book writer. His basic bio and reason for writing comprise the preface pages. His website:

Starting with the origins of Carroll Shelby's drive and ambition to make a sports car, for the ads for his sprts car dealership mentioned in the book, the where and how fall into place through the first chapter, which though focusing on Carroll, aslo spotlights Ed Hugus, race car driver, and thoroughly partnering with Carroll from the beginning as the first Cobra dealership, and used his "Spot" at LeMans to get a Cobra into the race. Could anyone be more helpful to a startup sportscar maker?
Phil Remington also gets a spotlight

In the book a passing mention is made of Carroll's most famous personal Cobras, the dual supercharged 427

Chapter 2 gets thoroughly into the early racing, drivers, and events.
As you can see by the pages I've used here, the book averages 3 to 4 photos per page... I love that.
 I thought I knew a good amount about Cobras, but with the connections, collectors, experts, drivers and owners the author learned from, he has liberally stuffed twice as much info I've never seen before into this book throughout the article and captions as I expected. It's a treasure of knowledge... simply astonishing. If you can only recollect all you'll learn from this book you'd be able to converse with any Cobra enthusiast
For example, you're likely already familiar with the CSX numbering, and various Cobra types, but I learned of the CS, COX, and COS Cobras for the first time. You see, CSX doesn't even come close to being what I thought it stood for, I thought it was Carroll Shelby Experimental. What a good guess! But it really is C for 3rd series Ace manufacturing, S is for Shelby (the Ace customer) and X is for Export.

I brought that up to show there is always more to learn, and to help with explaining CS were Cobras that weren't exported out of England, And COB and X were CObra Britain and CObra eXport.

This will help to explain the the #3 Cobra in the above right hand photo was the CS2131 and it's sister CS2142 that raced at the 1963 LeMans were not export Cobras

Awesome artgallery photos like the above are all though the book

It's wonderful how many car club members photos from car shows are in to book too

Like I was saying about the amount of information I learned for the first time, were these two coachbuilt customs, the Bordinat Cobras. Above CSX3001 was a bare chassis that went to Detroit Styling, and named the XD Cobra by Ford, the body was a new vacuum-formed plastic material from US Royal. Aint't that amazing? I've never run across any mention of these before! They disappeared into the storage warehouses of the Detoit Historical Museum in the 1960's, and were found by 30plus year Ford employee and Cobra enthusiast Jeff Burgy. Below is the red CSX2008 called Cougar II by Ford and shown at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair

you'll learn about the Dragonsnake Cobras, like the yellow one above (the only factory yellow Cobra) now owned by collector and museum owner Steven Juliano
A gallery of the above
A gallery of El Cid:

This book is so damn good, and shows how incredible much info the author knows and shares with the readers, he has many pages about the DragonSnakes (8 made) and photos of at least 6, CSX2019 (Elvis used it in a movie then it went back to Shelby American to become the 1st factory DragonSnake), CSX2427 the yellow one, CSX2472 that never did drag race, it was used by it's owner as a street car, then the 2nd owner autocrossed and road raced it, CSX2093, CSX2357, and El Cid CSX2248. The Motion "Kng Cobra" CSX3159 may or may not be an official DragonSnake

There is a chapter on the Corvette vs Cobra competition, chapter 4

For photos of Don and the number 89 CSX2473 is the #89, I think Don said it was the most winningest, or most raced Cobra

The above image is to show the CSX2001, collector Bruce Meyer, and I wanted to point out the cool little race car stripe/page number... that is a nice touch, as well as the below chapter numbering racing stripes. That is a damn fine touch
Chapter 5 gets in depth about Cobra collectors and clubs

For some great Castrol ads with the Daytona Coupes:  
Chapter 6 has a hell of a good look at the wide variety of memorabilia, brochures, handouts, and merchandising Carroll used for advertising. Below is the 1963 "Snakeskin" dealer kit

I just bust out laughing when I tell people about the "Pit Stop Deoderant" that I've posted about here before, but I've never seen a can of it before.... Colin, you really nailed it! Great find!

In brief, there is so much to enjoy that I didn't know, I was looking for things I did know just to learn more.
by the numbers
7 chapters
129 pieces of paper between the covers, 256 sides

The form and layout are nice, great presentation, with high quality photos

Photos: 286 color images, 131 black and white.
Period ads, brochures, pamphlets, etc: 34

The only things that might make this book better would be if the author wasted many more years of research talking to every car enthusiast to pick their brains and made this the complete encyclopedia of Cobra knowledge. I'm happier reading this book and enjoying the photos to want him to have taken more time making it.

The few things that I know of not in this book are posted here on my blog, and if you want the extraneous Cobra info I have, and the extra pictures, here you are: CSX2465 is certified by Carroll Shelby himself to be a real Daytona Coupe but not mentioned in the book. Likewise CSX2130, the Willment Cobra Daytona, the AC Cobra prototype
And the Shelby Record:
the "Pit Stop Deoderant" that I've posted about here before,

CSX2451 the Mercer Cobra probably doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the book due to its anti Cobra looks, and lack of usefulness as a sportscar

If I'd been the author I would have had a chapter on the first owners that kept their Cobras forever, like CSX2305, CSX2227, and CSX2006 , six are supposed to be still with their original owners according to Cruisin Style Magazine , and some coverage of the Daytona Coupes on Bonneville, and a chapter on the barnfind Cobras. Yes, of course you can just read the Tom Cotter books for those, but it's incredible info and would be a great addition to this book. I can understand leaving it out to keep on point of the focus on owners that love, drive, and race their Cobras, and not stuff them away for decades of neglect

Prices are around 27 dollars online:

Once you've enjoyed this book, you might also get a kick out of the Cobra Ferrari Wars

Friday, December 30, 2011

a quick run through the upstairs racecars was all I had before the Mullin Museum closed, I'll be back to get better photos

For a much better gallery, because she doesn't take as long to photograph each car, see Justacargal's galleries

1922 Bugatti type 23 Brescia

raced in 19 of 23 Indy races, more than any other racecar, and once owned by Charles Bronson, this Harry MIller and Earl Cooper 1927 racer has pedigree and history

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see these photos, a car hit by a kiddie train

a tiger hunting Maharajah's 1925 Rolls Royce with Barker coachbuilt Sport Touring body, bumper mounted cannon, and bumper hitch towing a machine gun... the unusual uses a luxury touring car has been put to!

 In addition to the standard luxury fittings for which Rolls-Royce and Barker are renowned, the car features a hidden safe, a nickel-plated hissing snake horn, a rifle stand in the rear passenger compartment, fitted tool kits and two powerful brass searchlights for night spotting.

 For ordnance she carries a mounted Howdah gun (double-barrel shotgun in pistol form), a mountable Lantaka cannon attached to the bumper, and a machine gun mounted on an attached, matching trailer.
found on