1964 Ford Shelby Cobra 289
The Shelby Cobra is a car that needs little introduction. What started as a partnership between LeMans winning race car driver Carroll Shelby and AC Cars in England, went on to become one of the most famous sports and racing cars in automotive history. Based on the AC Ace roadster, the Cobra’s formula was simple- take a lightweight two-seat car and shoehorn in the largest V8 available to create a car that could take the fight to the Italian, German and English competition in Europe. Although the earliest production Cobras relied on a 260ci Ford V8, the 289ci V8 quickly replaced it and many people now colloquially refer to the first generation Cobra as a “289.” Design-wise, the 289 Cobra is pretty closely aligned with the AC Ace that it was based on. Separated by a unique set of squared off fender flares and different nose and trunk shapes, the Cobra had a more up to date and aggressive look than the Ace. Although the 427 V8 powered car that succeeded the 289 is deemed by many to be the ultimate Cobra, those who have driven both frequently sight the 289 as a better driving car. Thanks to its low weight, rack and pinion steering and revvy 270+ horsepower V8, the 289 Cobra will feel familiar to any classic English roadster enthusiast but with every sensation turned up to its maximum.
This 1964 289 Cobra was built towards the tail end of the model’s production with only 26 chassis numbers succeeding it. Shipped to Los Angeles from the UK to receive the Cobra treatment on September 23rd 1964, once completed this car was sent to Town & Country Motors of Greenwich, CT in November of that year for sale. Painted in red over black leather, the car was optioned with Class “A” accessories which included polished wire wheels, white wall tires, a radio with antenna, a higher capacity oil pan and antifreeze coolant. Shipped to New York via TWA air-freight, the car was sold to a buyer in White Plains, NY in late 1965. In his possession for a short time, the car was sold the following year to Joseph Hish of Geneva, IL. Hish listed the car for sale numerous times through his ownership but it ended up staying in his possession until 2011. It was at this time that the car was purchased by the current owner in the greater Bay Area.
As the car sits today, it is still in its original red over black configuration but instead of polished wire wheels, it now wears a menacing set of black 6” wires with black wall tires. A polished roll hoop has been added with a removable Petty bar that is anchored in the passenger foot well. The leather on the interior appears to be original and shows appropriate wear for its age but still presents very nicely overall. The suite of Stewart Warner gauges appear in very good condition and do not exhibit much of the yellowing that is commonly found on gauges of this style. Instead of the 4 barrel Holley carburetor that would have come on the car originally, a set of 4 Weber downdraft carburetors have been installed to bring the car more closely in line with what would be found on a competition spec Cobra in period. Additionally, while most 289 Cobras have exhaust that exits straight out the back, this example has a pair of smaller side exit units that terminate just before the rear wheels but run along the underside of the car unlike those found on a 427. As is the case with many of these cars, over the years, owners put their own touches on them to create their perfect Cobra and this example is no exception. The modifications that have been carried out are all tasteful and will provide a more exciting driving experience for the new owner but are all also easily reversible if concours presentation is of greater concern. It is impossible to deny that the Shelby Cobra is one of the most important sports cars in history and this is the perfect example to get behind the wheel and experience everything that makes them so special.