CSX 2051 was billed by AC Cars Ltd to Shelby American Incorporated on 22nd November 1962 and duly shipped aboard the SS Assira to New York for onward delivery to California. As an early production example, this Cobra was originally assembled and fitted with a 260cu.in engine, and the factory records state the body was painted white with a black interior. On 26th February 1963, the Cobra was invoiced to first owner and racer, George Reed of RRR Motors, Homeward, Illinois.
Reed intended to race the Cobra and so immediately went about upgrading it with a roll bar, race tyres, sway bars and uniquely to CSX 2051 – an extended hood scoop. Reed then entered his new car for the Sebring 12 Hours with co-driver Nate Karras. According to Karras the Cobra developed issues with the tie rods during the race and as a result he declined to purchase the car from Reed as had previously been agreed. At the end of the ’63 season, CSX 2051 was advertised for sale in Competition Press & Autoweek magazine, listing its host of modifications and having only covered some 271 miles.
In 1964 Pat Manning of Illinois acquired the Cobra and swapped out the 260cu.in engine in favour of the newly released 289cu.in engine. Manning then successfully raced the Shelby for the next two years in SCCA and USRRC events with victories at Meadowdale and Wilmot Hills with sponsorship coming from Broadway Ford of Chicago.
By 1966 ownership had passed to another Illinois resident, Warren Fairbanks who happened to have worked on the Cobra for both Reed and Manning as a mechanic. Fairbanks also made his own improvements to the car and repainted it blue and fitted a single Holley carburettor to meet SCCA class A Production regulations. Entering seventeen races between 1967 and 1969, Fairbanks won the 1967 Badger 200 at Road America and qualified for the SCCA Nationals held at Milwaukee where he would finish in fourth place. For 1968, a roll cage had been installed and Fairbanks raced in more SCCA events over the following two seasons and held the B Production class record at Wilmot Hills.
In September ’70 the Cobra was advertised as ‘289 Cobra B Production National Winner’. For the first time, the Shelby would leave the state of Illinois and was acquired by Curtis Jackson of Oxford, Georgia who quickly sold it to Tim Cook of Wisconsin. Cook restored the Cobra and had it repainted metallic blue before advertising it in early ’73 as ‘1963 Cobra competition, 289, streetable; engine, brakes, running gear and interior are new; fresh metallic blue paint; Halibrands, Blue Streaks. Many details, priced right.’
Fellow Wisconsin resident Dan Koturon would become the next owner of CSX 2051 and following the removal of its roll bar and the fitment of a windscreen, the car was traded for a new Corvette in early ’74. Vilter Chevrolet then sold the Cobra to a Jim Turner also of Wisconsin who in turn sold the car two years later to John Hallin who would own the Cobra for the next sixteen years.
By 1992, CSX 2051 had been purchased by Classic Motors of Wisconsin who repainted the car white with blue stripes and sold it to Paul and Lauren Fix of New York. Over the next year the car was restored by one of the most knowledgeable Cobra experts, Bill Murray of Longmont, Colorado. Restored to early race specification, painted black with yellow front fender stripes with white racing roundels and fitted with a Monza fuel filler, Webers and a side-exit exhaust system. Displayed at SAAC-18 held at Watkins Glen in July ’93 and then raced by Lauren Fix at the Lime Rock Fall Vintage Festival in 1994, the period Shelby Cobra was awarded an SVRA historic medallion in 1994.
In June 1997 the Cobra was listed for sale and for the first time since it left AC Cars Ltd in 1962 the Cobra returned to the UK when it was bought by John Bendall of Hampshire. Bendall entrusted Foxcraft Engineering to completely strip the Cobra down ahead of rebuilding the car to FIA appendix K specification. At this time both the body and chassis were thoroughly checked for originality before the car was reassembled and painted Princess blue. Bendall finished 3rd overall in the pre-’64 GT race at the Coys Historic Festival in 1999 before going on to race CSX 2051 all over the world at circuits including Sebring, Spa-Francorchamps, Imola, Killarney, Montlhery, Nürburgring, Dijon, Le Mans and Goodwood. 2004 would prove to be a triumphant year for the Cobra as it raced successfully at Le Mans Classic, Spa and Dijon and as a result claimed first place in the GT class in the Gentleman Drivers Championship.
In 2006 Bendall and the Cobra were invited to the Goodwood Revival to take part in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration race with Bendall being paired with IndyCar driver Darren Manning for the two driver one hour race. Having qualified the Cobra well in mixed weather conditions, Manning would start the race from the front row alongside two Lightweight E-types. With Manning running in second position for the duration of his stint, Bendall took over and held position to claim second place.
Acquired by the current owner in 2009 it was decided the Cobra should be sympathetically restored to its original colour scheme of white with a black interior and to reincorporate numerous period details that had been overlooked in recent years. The body and chassis were stripped down to bare metal by UK metalwork expert – Lawrence Kett of G&A Fabrications. Reassembly of the Cobra was handled by Simon Blake and his team at Historic Automobiles in the UK who have restored and race prepared numerous front running Cobras, GT40’s and Mustangs. The owner then raced the Cobra (usually with his son) at historic events across Europe including Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, Silverstone, Barcelona, Portimao and of course Goodwood.
In the current ownership CSX 2051 took part in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration race on seven different occasions and other than one year when Dickie Attwood raced the car, Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner always shared driving duties with the owner.
A well-known car within the Cobra world and thus documented within the book ‘World Registry of Cobras & GT40s’, CSX 2051 displays its all-important body numbers on the bonnet, door, and boot latches. Its ownership history has been chronicled in over nine ring binders which include original race programmes, period race photos, letters, servicing, and restoration invoices. A host of period SCCA race trophies that were awarded to the Cobra and driver dating back to the 1960’s remain with CSX 2051 and will of course be included.
Today CSX 2051 offers the opportunity to take part in the world’s finest blue riband events but can also be used as a period correct road car. Supplied with an enviable spares package, the Cobra has an in-date FIA Historic Technical Passport, is UK taxes paid and is currently UK road registered ‘7 PXD’.
Photo Credit: Tim Scott – Fluid Images
Video Credit: Salterns Media