UPDATE: Sold for $13,750,000 – a new auction benchmark for an American automobile.
Today RMSotheby’s anounced the AC/Shelby Cobra prototype for their upcoming auction in Monterey.
What they call “the most important modern American car” is actually British.
That’s because this prototype was assembled by AC Cars in Thames Ditton, England.
In fact the front badge gives equal credit to both AC Cars and Shelby!
I wrote earlier:
Shelby recalls “I went to AC Cars in about June 1961. I’d looked at several other chassis situations for building my own cars, including AC’s Ace. Ray Brock came to me about the same time and said, ‘Ford has a new small-block V-8. 221 inches.’” Not long afterward he was in Detroit to meet with Dave Evans, Don Frey and Lee Iacocca. He recalls “I told him that I had a chassis, and that, if I could get these Ford engines, I thought I could build a car that would blow off the Corvette. I needed to borrow $25,000 to build two cars, plus engines. Iacocca agreed.”1
Putting an American V8 in a well-used european chassis such as a Ferrari or Maserati was common in 1960s racing, but Shelby was the first to market a working a sports car with official factory backing. Furthermore, many of the V8-powered specials in SCCA racing had achieved success alongside more expensive European marques. With the Cobra, Shelby saw a new opportunity.
After Shelby’s visit to Thames Ditton, AC Cars agreed to ship a modified version of their AC Ace to America without an engine. All the initial development of the chassis was done by AC who fitted the first prototype with the 221 in³ Ford V8. Like the production cars to the follow, this first car was eventually shipped to America, engineless.
In February of 1962, CSX2000 sometimes known as CSX0001 was completed in Dean Moon’s shop in Santa Fe Springs, California. When it reach Shelby, one of Ford’s first 260 in³ engines was available, which at the time was an upcoming racing engine developed with joint co-operation with Holman & Moody. Not long after arriving, the brushed-aluminum car was outfitted with a 260 and christened a Shelby.
Shelby gives little credit to AC. He commented “We strengthened the chassis tubes, we had to put different spindles and hub carriers on it, we had to put a different rearend in it,” recalls Shelby. “We changed those old buggy springs…there were very few nuts and bolts in that car that were the same nuts and bolts as in an AC Ace.”
Images by the talented Darin Schnabel for RMSotheby’s
While down in Monterey I spotted this gorgeous 1962 Jaguar E-Type owned by Randall Smalley of Mesa, Arizona: both at the Carmel Concours-by-the-Sea and during the 2015 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance.
According to the heritage certificate this E-Type, chassis 876040 was completed in November of 1961 and painted Opalescent Bronze with Beige interior for its first owner, J.L. Rein in Santa Monica, California.
On the great xkdata.com, 876040 is listed as sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2002 for $102,600 USD and Sports Car Market reported it was “one of the best in the world” at the time.
Looking at http://www.jcna.com, this car scored an impressive 99.040 at the JOCLA Concours.
Just pouring over the details it appears alot of passion and hard work went into a fit and finish of this caliber. It retains the J-62 tag issued only for the California state.
The owner reports that at the time this car cost “$5,595 against the Coupé’s $5,895, the Mk2’s $5,095 and the MK10’s $7,384.”
The 64th running of Pebble Beach had a massive focus this year on Italian cars, including 20 famed Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas and a centennial Maserati display, but there were still many fantastic British cars ‘competing’ on the fairway.
This year Jaguar XK120s took First in Class for both Class O-1 : Postwar Sports Touring and Class O-2, while a 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Vanvooren Sports Cabriolet was a runner up for this year’s Best in Show. RX Autoworks in Vancouver also brought out a gorgeous Lagonda. Let’s have a look:
1952 Jaguar XK120 Record Car 660986 ‘MDU524’ winner of Class O-2 : Postwar Sports Racing. Presented by Norman Dewis this record car that achieved 172.412 mph on the Jabbeke straight in Belgium.
1951 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupé Prototype 679002 won Class O-1 : Postwar Touring. This important XK120 (chassis 679002) is the first left-hand-drive Fixed Head Coupé and was the 1951 Geneva Show car. Jaguar used this car for publicity shots for the official launch of the Coupé. One of two prototypes, 679002 was converted from an XK120 Roadster in Jaguar’s experimental department.
1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Vanvooren Sports Cabriolet 3CM81 won Class H-1 : Rolls-Royce. This Rolls-Royce Phantom III (3CM81) with its smooth 7,338 ccV12 engine has a stylish two-door body built by the Parisian Carrosserie Vanvooren. This car was designed and built for the Polish General Władysław Sikorski and delivered to him in Warsaw in 1937. General Sikorski was the Polish Prime Minister in exile during World War II. His car is regarded as one of the finest Vanvoorenbodied motorcars in the world and features a sloping belt moulding that has the effect of lengthening the graceful tail, as does the two-seat configuration and the low windshield.
1925 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model Taylor Tourer 921 won Class J-4 : Prewar Sports Racing. This 3 Litre (chassis 921) is built on the short 9’ 9½” frame reserved for the TT Replica and Red Label Speed Models. On its journey north from Bentley’s Cricklewood factory in London to its owner Hubert Mason of Southport, it was bodied by the small coachbuilder L & L. T. Taylor of Wolverhampton, which operated from 1920 until 1927. Taylor built the bodies for a variety of different cars, including four 3 Litre Bentleys, but this is the only survivor, kept in very original condition by its 12 previous owners.
1929 Bentley Speed Six Saoutchik Drophead Coupé SB2769 won Class J-1 : European Classic Early. Dr. William Leib from Hillsborough, California, ordered this short chassis (SB2769) Speed Six with a unique three-position drophead coupé body to be finished by Jacques Saoutchik in Paris. The coachwork blends traditional British styling elements such as the radiator and bonnet with typically French accents. This body is one of the earliest on a vintage Bentley to include an integral boot as part of the coachwork and it still retains a complete set of luggage. It has just been restored by Bentley specialists in the United Kingdom to its original blue color scheme with brightwork plated in German Silver as specified in 1929.
1966 Rolls-Royce Phantom V James Young Touring Limousine. The first owner of this unusual James Young–bodied touring limousine was Albert Silvera, a Haitian diplomat and wellknown car collector. His wife Gladys was involved in specifying the colors of her husband’s unique cars, even sketching some of the bodywork changes he wanted so they could be carried out. Other than owning a great car collection, Silvera owned the exotic El Rancho Hotel near Port-au-Prince in Haiti as well as homes in South Florida and Paris.
1908 Daimler TC48 Roi des Belges. This rare 48-hp Daimler has Roi des Belges or tulip phaeton coachwork, a style first seen in 1901 when King Leopold II of Belgium decided to buy a new car. The king visited Paris to discuss his idea with Ferdinand Charles of Rothschild et Fils, a coachbuilding firm belonging to the famous banking dynasty. To improve passenger comfort they decided on richly upholstered tub-chairs then in fashion. With these handbeaten, tulip-shaped seats and a graceful, pinched-in waist, the “Roi des Belges” body style caused a sensation when it was unveiled in 1902, and remained in fashion for several years.
1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide Drophead Coupé 14091. This V12 Drophead Coupé features a sporty, four-seat convertible body made by Lagonda’s in-house coachbuilding division. After several owners in the United Kingdom it was taken to Australia in 1969 before its current owner brought it to the United States in 2006.
1937 Bentley 4¼ Litre Vanden Plas Roadster B-42-KT. This two seat 4¼ Derby Bentley was sold through the London Bentley dealership of Jack Barclay, and delivered in July 1937 to its first owner, S. B. White. It was ordered with sporty yet graceful coachwork from Vanden Plas that is similar to two other very famous Derby Bentleys owned by Sir Malcolm Campbell and the Countess of Warwick. Its current owner purchased the car in 1972 and has enjoyed it ever since.
1952 Bentley Mark VI Mulliner Convertible B342NZ. After acquiring the Triumph Motor Company, Sir John’s Standard Motor Company worked with the coachbuilder to design and build the Triumph Razoredge saloon in 1946, from which several design elements were used on his new Bentley. Sir John’s Mark VI later served as the inspiration for the design for the 1956 Standard Motors–built Triumph TR2. The signature flowing line on the Bentley’s flanks can be found on both the earlier Razoredge and the later TR2. This car (chassis B342NZ) is the only Bentley finished by Mulliner of Birmingham after 1945.
If you would like to see more, the entire show is posted on
This year Austin Healeys were very well represented in Monterey and RM Auctions broke the record for the MKIII at auction with a Sandy Beige car. As usual, the factory 100Ms proved to be the most desirable model, but the 1964 Sebring 12 Hours Works car with lightweight aluminum fenders and numerous original competition features fetched $352,000 which is surely the record for the BJ7 at public auction.
1964 Austin-Healey 3000 MkII Lightweight HBJ7-64H-57-2 – sold for $352,000. 1964 Sebring 12 Hours Works entry driven by Paddy Hopkirk. 1966 and 1968 Targa Florio entrant. Ex-Ted Worswick. Five owners from new. In remarkably original condition.
1954 Austin-Healey 100 BN1 BN1-L/157169 – sold for $101,200 Exceptional restoration by Richard Jenkins. Finished in its factory delivered livery of Spruce Green over Green. Matching numbers example, eligible for the finest Concours or rallies. Factory delivered with larger 1 ¾” SU Carburetors. Offered with Heritage Trust Certificate.
1965 Austin-Healey BJ8 MK III HBJ8L/29759 – sold for $143,000. Completely restored by Tom and Randee Rocke of Healey Lane. Striking and unique color scheme. Engine, gearbox, and overdrive rebuilt to original factory specifications. Accompanied by photo-documentation and a BMIHT Certificate.
1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 ‘Factory’ Le Mans BN2-L/231849 – sold for $198,000. A genuine factory-built 100M Le Mans Competition Roadster. Verified as matching numbers, with 100M Le Mans Registry and BMIHT certificates. Freshly restored by Tom and Randee Rocke of Healey Lane.
Sold for $93,500. his handsome Mk III, delivered to San Francisco in May 1964, is one of only 1,390 Series I examples produced during the two-year run of the model, which is considered by many to be the most comfortable, versatile, and best performing of the Big Healeys. This dashing car received lavish attention by a previous owner, who conducted a comprehensive body-off restoration that he thoroughly documented with a wealth of photographs.
This 1956 Austin-Healey Factory 100M Le Mans was displayed at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering by Hudson G. Vitaich of California, USA.
This 1959 Austin Healey 3000 HBN7/5639 was driven by Kevin Adair at the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. He calls this a “3000 S” because it was modified for the Canadian Driver’s Championship.
Kevin Adair also showed this completed original and unrestored BJ7 which his brother bought new. Yes, this is an original paint, California black plate survivor.
1957 Austin Healey 100-6 BN4L/05797 was raced by Doug Escriva in the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in the Group 3A – 1955-1962 GT Cars.
1956 Austin-Healey BN2 100/4 Coupe – sold for $50,000. One of one. One owner since new. 37,609 original miles. This unique steel body was built to owners specs by California Metalworks, the same company that built Shelby’s Coupe’s bodywork, soon after purchase. This unique car has been featured on the cover of the Healey Magazine and also in 1966 Road and Track Magazine.