Shelby American Cobra CSX- R-4010 - Development Car
Project commissioned by Carroll Shelby himself
F-Registered, Period 1967/8 registration Number
( SEE "Shelby American" BULKHEAD PLATE PHOTO )
"UK Swansea V5C" registered AS :- Shelby Cobra 427 S/C CSX-R4010 ( SEE V5C PHOTO )
“F PLATE" REGISTRATION (so... a much-valued 1967/8 registration )
302cu inch 4.9 litre V8 +060
The Story of Shelby Cobra CSX R-4010
The story has been well told, how in 1961 a tall Texan approached AC Cars in Thames Ditton with the proposal to put a small block Ford V8 into the AC Ace. The Cobra was born and the rest is history.
However, history has a way of repeating itself, and in 1993, that same tall Texan, Carroll Shelby, met with the directors of RAM in Witham, UK with the request to fit a new and different engine into one of their RAM Cobras. The engine was the Oldsmobile Northstar V8 and the car was one of the highly regarded replica Cobras, with a chassis developed by Adrian Reynard.
RAM Automotive (formerly known as LR Roadsters) was the company founded by Adrian Cocking in 1984 to produce a superior replica Cobra with an improved chassis. The original Cobras with the same ladder frame chassis developed in the 50s for the AC ACE, were not renowned for their road holding. Adrian Reynard, with a pedigree of designing chassis for Formula 2 and Indy Racing, came up with a more rigid space-frame design, that was less susceptible to chassis flex.
So successful was the result that in 1992, RAM became the first company to supply all the cars for a one-make series when the organisers of the French Bardahl Trophy series of races ordered a full grid of RAM SECs. The series attracted drivers from many other Formulae.
By 1993, Carroll Shelby with his Shelby American Corporation was back in the Cobra business producing his 4000 series of cars, available with either aluminium or GRP bodies. Shelby had chosen RAM with their superior chassis design and engineering expertise to produce Shelby-endorsed cars for the European market. But he was also exploring the options for a different engine to be fitted to Cobras and to his new car (the Shelby Series 1) and he wanted help with this project.
Adrian Cocking remembers this project well. “The Oldsmobile Northstar was a very square engine that was normally fitted in an East/West configuration to front wheel drive vehicles. Carroll wanted us to fit this into a Cobra in a North/South configuration to see how it would perform. He commissioned us to produce a car fitted with the Northstar as a development vehicle.”
Also involved at the time and present at the Witham meeting, was Terry Sands. Terry Sands was an active participant and consultant in the GRP replica business, especially with Cobras for most of his working life. Through this Cobra connection he became the principal point of contact for Carroll Shelby in his dealings in Europe and was appointed as his European Liaison Officer for his Transplant Trust. When Carroll Shelby came to the UK and Europe, Terry would meet up and accompany him. Indeed, Carroll Shelby became godfather to Terry’s daughter. So when in 1993, Shelby was looking to work with a UK manufacturer, it was natural for him to involve Terry Sands who was also working with RAM at the time.
Terry recalls the moment a few weeks later when the Northstar engines arrived. “There were two of them, badged as Cadillac engines. They arrived as basic engines minus bell housings, fly wheels, clutches and gearboxes. Our first challenge was to design and manufacture the missing components and then to squeeze the wider engine into the chassis. There were a few technical problems to overcome but we eventually solved these and the finished car was tested by us until we were satisfied with its performance.”
The finished car, complete with Northstar engine installed was then shipped to the US for Shelby’s evaluation, accompanied by Adrian Cocking. Adrian recalls, “The car was given a real hammering by the Shelby American crew and by Carroll himself. We tested it on various tracks and drag strips and it really met all our expectations. On one occasion we were due to take it to the GM proving ground at Mesa, Arizona, near Phoenix. However, at the last minute a problem arose and we diverted to the Firebird drag strip at the Wild Horse Pass racing circuit. I think it was there where Bob Bondurant set a new quarter mile standing start record. He wound it up to about 5000 rpm and just slide-slipped the clutch. He signed the bulk head to commemorate the occasion.” (Traces of his signature still remain)
Terry Sands didn’t accompany the car to the USA but he remembers seeing footage of it racing and “blowing the doors off” a Corvette.
When Adrian Cocking returned to the UK he didn’t expect to see the car again. Business resumed as normal and Shelby’s official endorsement of the RAM Cobra dated January 6th 1994 crowned a very successful 10 years for Adrian Cocking and RAM Automotive. To underline his commitment to RAM, Carroll Shelby flew to the UK to launch the first Shelby American Cobra Replica at the Autosport Racing Car Show at the Birmingham NEC.
In the end, Shelby American did not use the Northstar engine in the production Cobras, preferring instead to stick with the Ford unit. But the Northstar engine morphed into the Aurora engine which was used in the run of Shelby Series 1 Cars, the follow-on to the Cobra.
CSX R-4010 did eventually return to the UK. Adrian Cocking remembers it turning up. “One day, this container arrived at the factory and when we opened it up there, much to our surprise, was our development car, minus engine and transmission. And through a contact of Terry, we had a customer for it.” This very car advertised here today.
This was Paul Hadley. Paul worked as area manager for a company called Gearhouse who were specialists in audio visual and photographic equipment. As a friend of Terry Sands, he became involved in the presentations and exhibitions that RAM were staging at the time, including the press launch of the Shelby agreement and also the presentations for the Shelby Heart Foundation. When Paul asked Terry if he could get him a RAM Cobra, Terry pointed him towards our CSX R-4010, which had recently returned from the USA, minus engine and gearbox.
Paul bought this car, re-commissioned and with a Ford 302 engine and T5 gearbox and converted back to right hand drive. Sometime later during Paul’s ownership, Terry rebuilt the engine for him. As Terry recalls, all the best performance bits were used. Jahns pistons with 10:1 compression, bores enlarged by 60 thou, a street stripped cam, and performance oil pipes and bearings.
During Paul’s ownership, CSX R-4010 was taken to The Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1995. Carroll Shelby was there and was reunited with the car. Both he and Phil Hill drove the car up the hill. Carroll Shelby added his signature to the glove box to commemorate the occasion.
In 1994, Terry Sands accompanied Carroll Shelby along with Bob Bondurant and Pete Brock to join in the 35th year anniversary celebration of Shelby’s win at Le Mans. “We sat around a camp fire at night reminiscing about how the RAM Cobra had performed during its testing in the USA. Both had great memories of the tests that the car was put through.”
In 1999, Terry was also involved in helping Paul sell the car to Lisa Reedy. He inspected it and gave it a clean bill of health before Lisa bought it. Lisa owned the car for almost 20 years during which time she used it both as a daily driver and for occasional track days. “I used to travel regularly to Anglesey to windsurf,” she remembers. “I would drive over with the Cobra and the windsurfer would be stuck in the foot well and passenger seat!”
Today, this car remains as good as when it was first built. It starts on the button, delivers devastating performance and yet will sit idling at 650rpm without fluffing or overheating.
Come and see this car !
Although we attempt to ensure accuracy of any statement or detail, the customer must make his or her own judgement in purchasing this car. The purchaser of the above car understands that he or she is purchasing a historic motor car with components that are up to 29 years old and sold as a collector item. There is no warranty given or implied due to the age of the car.
Call 07973 731508