The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

Lot 141

1963 Shelby 289 Cobra

Sold for $935,000

  • Chassis no. CSX 2121


271 bhp, 289 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, ladder-type steel tubing chassis with independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs and tube shock absorbers, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.

  • Listed in the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s
  • Believed 13,739 original miles
  • Outstanding overall restoration


The history of Anglo-American hybrid sports cars can be traced back to the original Ford V-8 of 1932, which provided bulletproof engines to power elegant two-seaters. Famous marques with this configuration between the wars included Jensen, Brough Superior, Railton, Batten, and a homebuilt V-8 Ford special that even won the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally.

But Carroll Shelby’s 1962 Cobra Roadster represents the pinnacle of the concept. It was a matter of perfect timing. Shelby, at 37, was winding up a very successful racing career, which had peaked in 1959, when he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race for Aston Martin. Shelby became the Goodyear Racing tire distributor for the Western U.S. in 1961, and he started his own racing school at Riverside Raceway in California. All he needed was a car bearing his name.

As the new cars were completed in Shelby’s California factory, many headed straight to the race track. The first 75 cars were powered by the 260-cubic inch motor, which then gave way to the 289-cubic inch Windsor V-8. In race prep, this could generate up to 370 horsepower in a car that weighed only 2,000 pounds—500 less than the Corvettes. The Cobras gave GM fits, starting with Dave MacDonald’s first victory at Riverside a year later on February 2, 1963. MacDonald smoked a field of Corvettes, Jaguars, Porsches, and Maseratis, and every hot-blooded sports car aficionado in the U.S. wanted a Shelby Cobra, like the example offered here.

According to the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s, CSX2121 was billed to Shelby American on May 20, 1963, and it was shipped to Los Angeles aboard the SS Dongedyk. On July 25, 1963, the car was invoiced to Harold Turner Inc., of Birmingham, Michigan, at a base cost of $5,195, plus options and freight, for a total of $5,699.50. The earliest owner of CSX2121 is E. Neill Babbs, of Miami, Florida, who advertised it for sale in mid-1970, with 12,000 original miles. It was purchased by Walter Clay, also of Miami, in August that same year. Clay kept the car for approximately eight years. Subsequent owner Allen Woodall, of Georgia, advertised the car, having restored it at this point and advertising as such.

On February 10, 1987, CSX2121 was purchased by Kurt Carlson. According to documentation accompanying the car, Colonel Carlson had spent a number of years looking for an early, low-mileage example, and he finally settled on the purchase of this car. Colonel Carlson was the steward of this car for 24 years, and he looked after the car with a full desire to preserve as much originality as possible.

As presented today, showing 13,739 miles on the odometer, the car is finished in brilliant red, with fresh black upholstery in the cockpit. The car is wonderfully patinated throughout, due to the originality of items like the windshield, sun visors, front badge, and even smaller items like the hood and trunk latches, with their partial chassis number stampings reading “121.” Ancillary items in the engine bay, such as the cylinder heads, intake manifold, carburetor, harmonic balancer, and washer bottle, appear correct as well. It comes further equipped with a chromed roll bar, chromed hood latches, a Rotunda tachometer and Smiths gauges, chromed 6-inch knock-off wire wheels shod with Goodyear Polyglas tires, as well as a full spare, a dash-mounted rearview mirror, chromed nerf bars with bumper overriders in the front and rear, and a quick-fill fuel cap. Nicely presented, this 289 Cobra can be carefully enjoyed while also preserving its integrity as a low-mileage example.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more