The Shelby 289 Cobra may well have been the Swiss Army Knife of 1960s sports cars. Out of the box it was a capable handler and entertaining driver, and with a few modifications it was a potent SCCA Production racer. Gooding & Company’s recent Scottsdale sale saw a pair of Cobras — including a 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra street car and a 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra vintage racer — crack the auction’s top 10, representing the only domestic offerings to make the list.
Finished in Princess Blue with a red interior, CSX2246 was sold through Coventry Motors of Walnut Creek, California, and invoiced with accessories that included aluminum rocker covers, white sidewall tires, and an uninstalled luggage rack. Its first owner was San Francisco resident Edward J. Hyland, who seemed to understand the car’s strengths and shortcomings better than most owners, who soon tired of the Cobra’s faults. When he relocated to Los Angeles, the Cobra accompanied him south, and though it was stored after 1973, it remained with him until his death in 1988.
In 1989, the then-derelict Cobra was spotted by Ken Comstock, a firefighter who was doing some work on the house adjacent to that of Hyland’s widow. A deal was struck, and Comstock became the CSX2246’s second owner. He’d carry out a restoration in his own garage, respraying the car in the original Princess Blue, fitting new chrome wire wheels, and replacing the red interior before debuting the reborn Cobra at the 1991 Palm Springs Vintage Race Concours.
Comstock sold the car in 1993, and it passed through three more owners before being purchased by the consignor in 1999. Included in the transaction was a correctly dated, high-performance 289 V-8, built by the previous owner but never installed. The Cobra’s new owner remedied this but retained the original 289 (which was included as part of the Gooding sale) to preserve the car’s value. Over the past 20 years, CSX2246 was driven on three Cobra 1000 invitational tours, and in 2017 was given a comprehensive restoration to a show-quality standard. This was reflected in the selling price of $1.05 million, strong enough for eighth place on the sale’s top-10 list.
Originally painted Rouge Iris (dark red) with a black interior, CSX2448 was sold through Foreign Car Center of Birmingham, Alabama, and delivered with accessories that included white sidewall tires, antifreeze (a $3.55 option), a radio and antenna, an outside rearview mirror, and five chrome wire-spoke wheels. Roughly two months after the dealership received the Cobra, it was sold to Paul Wood — also of Birmingham — who enlisted the help of local mechanic Bob Wallace in converting the street-spec Cobra into an SCCA A-Production race car.
Later, once the Shelby 427 Cobra became common in SCCA Production racing, the Shelby 289 Cobra was reassigned to B-Production, and CSX2448 raced in this class in 1967. Over his racing career with the car, Wood achieved a few class wins, but only made seven starts across three seasons. In 1973, Wood sold the Cobra to its second owner, Pat Colletti of Tucson, Arizona, who kept it for three years before selling to the consignor (via Shelby collector Mark Hefte) in 1976.
Initially, the plan was to rebuild the car for vintage racing, but instead CSX2448 ended up in storage for the next 30 years. When the restoration did commence, circa 2006, marque experts Hall Fabrication & Racing were given a very specific mission: Spare no expense and retain as much of the car’s originality as possible. Though the car was delivered in Rouge Iris, at various stages of its life the Cobra had been painted white and black, so the decision was made to refinish the car in black. The fender flares and hood scoop were added after delivery, but were part of the car’s racing history and were thus retained.
When restoring or refurbishing a component wasn’t an option, new old stock (NOS) items were used. The car’s adjustable Koni shocks were rebuilt, but the Shelby big-brake kit was a lucky NOS find. Though not original to the car, the 289 V-8 block is date-correct, and the engine was rebuilt to competition specifications (and includes the original Shelby road race headers installed on the car circa 1965). A date-correct Borg-Warner transmission was included in the auction, but a Ford Toploader is currently installed for greater durability in vintage racing.
The restoration took until 2017 to complete, and included in the Cobra’s documentation are over $470,000 in receipts outlining the work performed. As completed, the Cobra is described as competitive on both the vintage racing and concours circuits, and thanks to the custom baffles for the sidepipes, can even be street-driven (in most jurisdictions, anyway). The race-ready Cobra achieved a fee-inclusive selling price of $912,500, making it the final car on Gooding’s top-10.
Other lots in the top 10 included a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, which sold for $7.6 million; a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta, which sold for $5.89 million; a 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Spider Series II, which sold for $5.4 million; a 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO, which sold for $2.51 million; a 1952 Ferrari 212 Europa Cabriolet, which sold for $1.93 million; a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, which sold for $1.9 million; a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, which sold for $1.44 million; and a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, which sold for $1.09 million.
Gooding & Company reported sales of 105 of 124 lots, for a sell-through rate of 85 percent. Total revenue from the two-day auction was $48.2 million. For complete results from Scottsdale, visit GoodingCo.com.