1963 Shelby 289 Cobra
$850,000 - $950,000
- Veteran of multiple Cobra tours; an ideal driver’s Cobra
- Only two owners since 1981
- Well-maintained restoration by marque specialist Mike McCluskey
By shoehorning a potent, Ford V-8 into a diminutive AC chassis, Carroll Shelby managed to create a car that was seemingly much more than the sum of its parts. Not only did the 289 Cobra prove to be an incredible car to drive and enjoy on the street, it also proved to be highly competitive on the track, where it could easily hold its own against competitors in both Europe and North America.
Initially, that first V-8 that Shelby utilized was 221 cu. in. in displacement; while the earliest Cobras were fitted with 260-cu. in. Ford V-8’s, the Cobra finally came into its own its third powerplant; Ford’s 289-cu. in. V-8, which entered production after the first 75 cars were built. With a total output of 306 bhp, Shelby’s 289 Cobra tipped the scales at only 2,000 lbs., a monumental 500-some lbs. lighter than the Corvette, a figure that paid massive dividends in terms of performance.
According to the SAAC World Registry of Cobras and GT40s, CSX 2095 arrived in Los Angeles in the spring of 1963 and was invoiced to Coventry Motors of Walnut Creek, California, in June of that year. Although the car’s first owner is unknown, by April of 1972 it was owned by Robert C. Able of Eugene, Oregon, who acquired the car from Arthur Johnstone, of Medford. In 1974, the car was repainted dark blue with contrasting red leather seats, and the original engine was replaced with a later 289-cu. in. V-8 with dual-quad carburetors, and wider wheels were fitted at the same time. Jim D’Onnofrio of Salem, Oregon, acquired the car in 1981 and by that point, the car was painted black and the fender flares were widened to accommodate wider wheels.
D’Onnofrio kept the car for over 20 years, finally parting ways with it in 2003, and the car’s next owner was Bill Bryan of Winter Park, Florida. Upon purchasing the car, Bryan sent CSX 2095 to noted Cobra restorer Mike McCluskey in Torrance, California, where the fender flares and modifications where returned to original. This was to be no garage queen and in Bryan’s ownership, the Cobra saw extensive use and was driven in several Cobra tours. In a recent conversation with RM Sotheby’s Research & Editorial department, Bryan commented that it was a delight to drive and served him well over the course of his 15 years of ownership and would not have had a moment’s hesitation in hopping in the car to drive it across the country. Trading the car recently so he could acquire a 427 Cobra, CSX 2095 remains in excellent condition throughout and is ready to drive and enjoy in all regards.
The car which made Carroll Shelby a household name, the 289 Cobra is nothing short of a legend in American motorsport and automotive history. While so many are kept hidden away in large collections, the best way to enjoy a Cobra is to drive and enjoy it on the open road as Shelby intended. CSX 2095 has proven to be an exceptional driver’s car over thousands of miles of road use in recent years and begs to return to the open road with its next custodian.