A wholesome and strong performing example of the legendary Shelby 289 Cobra. Converted to rack & pinion steering.
Since its 1963 release into the world of performance racing, the mystique around the Cobra has grown among collectors and enthusiasts, spawning modern iterations, tributes, and replicas. And while many of those cars have earned an enjoyable place in many a garage, the original 289 Cobra is and will always be the one that started it all.
In 1961 Carroll Shelby assembled an AC Ace powered with a Ford 260 V8 engine. American power had been transplanted in European cars, but Shelby found the sweet spot. The new offering became both an immediate success and a media darling, featured in songs, movies, and races all over the world. Car magazines loved the combined performance of the Cobra and the Southern charm of Carroll Shelby. The unapologetic, brash, American performance, in both the Cobra and its founder delivered 0-60 times in an astonishing 4.9 seconds, well ahead of contemporary Jaguars and Aston Martins. Even production Corvettes were a full 3 seconds slower. Following its first competition outings, the Cobra proved to be a durable, quick, and extremely capable car evolving from the 260 cu. in V8 to the 289 V8 and eventually 427 variants, all of which went on to achieve significant track victories both with campaigned cars and in the hands of privateer racers.
This Shelby, CSX2105, has been documented in Shelby Registries and reviewed by numerous authoritative Shelby experts reporting on the early history. According to the World Registry of Cobras and GT40s, this car is the 105th of 126 Mark 1 Cobras built. One of just 51 in this series fitted with the later desirable 289 cu. in. engine, it was finished in blue with a black interior, billed to Shelby American April 1,1963, and dispatched from AC Motors on January April 4, 1963. After delivery to New York port, CSX2105 was invoiced June 5, 1963 by Shelby American headquarters, Venice, CA to Coventry Motors, Walnut Creek, CA. The earliest documented owner, William Nicholas, Mill Valley, CA is believed to have purchased the car in the late 1960s or early 70s, described by Nicholas as blue with black interior, side exhaust, and a modified 289 engine. By 1976 CSX2105 appears in SAAC-1 Oakland, CA 8/76 in similarly described condition with added notation including a black rollbar and a black/gold CA license plate CCZ 897.
Ownership history continued to be documented into the 1980s when it was revealed, at some point in the history of the car, that it had been converted to the later, more desirable rack and pinion steering arrangement adopted in later series production. To accomplish this, a small support section, formerly used to anchor a segment of the worm and gear steering, was removed and the new steering installed. Favorably, as this box segment retains the CSX2105 stamping. This removed portion remains with the car today. Additional research indicates that the rear fenders of this car were altered to accept wider tires. While previous registry information has mistakenly identified history for this car, possibly confusing it with CSX2016, CSX2105 has been carefully reviewed by expert Shelby SAAC Regional Director, Jim Wicks and Ned Scudder, and further by Lynn Park, as documented in letters identifying the addition of rack and pinion steering, an acceptable and often performed period upgrade.
In addition to the many original features visible on CSX2105, Cobra experts will appreciate that both left and right door hinge plates bear the matching number 105, the left side hood latch bears the number 105, and the boot latch also bears the number 105. These numbers are consistent with factory stampings applied in AC body panel production to all opening features, an important fabrication feature for aluminum panel makers to match the handmade nature of these cars, which is now a critical element in establishing the originality of these rare cars.
Under current ownership since 2010, CSX2105 spent almost 50 years in California before being imported by a collector in Australia in 2002 who later sold it to the current owner. Over the years, recent owners have preserved the many finishes believed to be original with sensitive restoration of original components to preserve as much of the integrity of this early 289 powered Cobra.
Today CSX2105 remains as a fine example combining restored exterior features and original components. The metallic blue paint is accented by dual white stripes covering the entire centered length of the body. The paint finish is glossy and smooth with appropriate attention to fit and finish of the factory aluminum opening features and 289 Mark 1 aluminum body. The exterior trim, while limited, is in excellent condition overall including the windscreen trim and glass, lights, lenses, and emblems. The grille is correctly finished, and the underside valance continues the dual stripe theme flanked by chrome bumper uprights. The chrome wire wheels are beautifully finished with dual ear, and center hub knockoffs. A set of Michelin 205/70 R15 radial XWX tires give the car a hunkered down wide stance, filling the flared wheel arches with ample rubber.
The interior is finished with black leather seats and surrounding black materials consistent with factory application and materials when new. The seats have a wonderfully settled patina, slightly weathered but retaining a snug and supple feel when one is nestled in the driver’s seat. The dashboard and instruments are properly arrayed with correct dial faces and nicely preserved indication, though some instruments have been noted as later series replacements likely sourced over the years and replaced as needed. The steering wheel has been preserved over the years and maintains a remarkable warm wood tone with just the right amount of wear, befitting the general character of the interior. While many cars can feature a full restoration, this Cobra offers a more engaging experience in keeping with the history of these cars. CSX2105 reveals both the lineage and performance connection infused by one of the most heralded individuals in sports car history, Carroll Shelby.
Releasing the matching VIN stamped hood lock and raising the original aluminum hood, the 289 V8 engine has been treated to a welcome addition to Shelby’s motorsport legacy, four dual-throat down-draft Weber carburetors. Brilliantly trumpeting the added horsepower from the already potent engine, these Weber carburetors are a feast for both the eyes and accelerator pedal. Correct Cobra engine components such as Cobra valve covers, AC Cars chassis tag, correct hoses, and linkages are in place, reflecting proper care and attention to originality in keeping with the interior finishes. The welcoming combination of originality and performance delivers handily both on the display field and when driving.
The trunk compartment is easily opened by twisting the original factory latch also revealing the correct matching number stamping, further indicative of the correct and original factory aluminum deck lid. The trunk is clean and tidy, once again representative of the original finishes housing a full-sized white wall spare wheel. The underside of the car presents largely original components, finishes, and details. The clean and well-maintained underside is again reflective of the preservation and use dedicated to this car over the documented years of enthusiast ownership.
CSX2105 fires up instantly with a booming growl indicative of Cobra heritage. The side exit exhaust offers a bellowing performance note, reflecting the power of these impressive cars. Once nestled into the driver’s seat, the view over the twin-striped hood not only looks great, but the lines also historically aid in centering the car for precise competition cornering. Once the engine is warm and the competition seat belts are latched, a quick flick into first gear sets you off on the drive of a lifetime. Cobras are eager to open up even on soft throttle, but the Webers add a joyful punch to the already impressive acceleration delivering smooth and sonorous revs through every gear change. Freeway speeds are quickly achieved, and braking is still very impressive despite the years of advances achieved since these cars were new. Handling and ride are notably better than early worm and gear cars, a polite nod to the improvement selected years ago for this car.
This 289 Shelby Cobra comes with copies of letters identifying the key elements of the history of this car with expert statements on the ownership and originality of CSX2105. Also included with the car is the original CSX2105 stamped box section, a car cover, black center-zip tonneau cover, side curtains, an unassembled convertible top with top bows, a spare radiator hose, and spare ignition wires.
An unrepeatable opportunity, CSX2105 is ready for enjoyable showing, driving, events, tours, or the sheer joyful engagement of anyone who has ever desired to own and drive one of the most important sports cars of the modern era, the 289 Shelby Cobra.