1963 Shelby 289 Cobra Roadster “Le Mans”

In April 1963, Shelby prepared two cars for Le Mans that summer. Features included Dunlop magnesium wheels with larger fender flares, FIA hood scoops and a 37-gallon fuel tank. The engines, stated to be “moderate tune,” had four Weber downdraught carburetors.

One team car entered by AC Cars, managed by Stirling Moss and driven by Bolton/ Sanderson, finished seventh overall, third in the GT category and won the 4-5 liter class. This success resulted in the construction of six more Cobras – designated as Le Mans versions by Shelby and built with rack-and-pinion steering.

The first of these six, CSX 2136, was delivered to Shelby American in June 1963, where it was prepared to compete in the 1963 SCCA/US Road Racing Championship. In addition to its Le Mans features, it received a Derrington “Nassau” exhaust, Halibrand wheels, front wheel-well spats and wider rear flares, Koni shocks, brake cooling scoops, front and rear sway bars, engine oil and differential coolers, driveshaft hoop, and an electric fuel pump.

CSX 2136 joined the Shelby American Team for the September 8 SCCA/USRRC race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Driven by Dave MacDonald and Bob Bondurant, it finished fourth overall and first in the GT class. At Riverside on October 13, Lew Spencer drove it to third in the L.A. Times GT race. MacDonald drove it at the Hawaiian GP later in October to second overall. CSX 2136’s last appearance as a Shelby team car was at the Nassau Speed Weeks on December 8, 1963 where Frank Gardner drove it to seventh overall and first in GT in the Nassau Trophy Race.

Ed Leslie acquired CSX 2136 from the Shelby Team on 30th January 1964 and proceeded to win his class in seven of the 11 SCCA races entered in 1964, including the ARRC finale at Riverside. He also drove 2136 to an overall and GT class win at the Laguna Seca USRRC race on May 3 and a pair of USRRC second places at Riverside on April 26 and Kent on May 10, both times finishing behind Ken Miles in a Team Cobra.

In 1965, CSX 2136 was sold to Foster Alexander who raced it at the ARRC National Championship at Daytona on 28th November, finishing 3rd overall. Subsequently, CSX 2136 raced in B/Production with Stan Bennett and John Bachnover in the Northwest and David Greenblatt in Montreal. This car’s period history ended when the latter was involved in an accident at Circuit Mount Tremblant. It later sustained damage in a garage fire.

In 1980, CSX 2136 was discovered by Ken Eber, who purchased it in damaged “roller” form.

Restored for its next owner Steve Baker by specialist Bill Murray, CSX 2136 was returned to its original 1963-64 configuration. Following completion, it won an AACA Junior Competition Car First Place in 1992. Eber swapped a 427 street Cobra to Baker for CSX 2136 to re-acquire it in 1994. 2136 was purchased by Chris Cox in 1997, and sold to the current owner in 2006.

Outstandingly successful with both the Shelby team and Ed Leslie, this is one of the Cobras that established the marque’s unmatched reputation for speed and durability. The sale of CSX 2136 presents the opportunity for a discerning collector to acquire a Cobra of remarkable provenance.

 

Colin Comer

Colin Comer - Editor at Large

Colin is the founder of Colin’s Classic Automobiles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as SCM’s resident American car expert. His fascination with cars began at an early age, and according to him, he never grew out of it—nor does he wish to. Colin regularly appears on television, and he is the author of the books: “Million-Dollar Muscle Cars” and the “Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles.” A hands-on guy, Comer maintains an impressive collection of his own and is an avid vintage racer. He is a regular contributor to both Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines.

Posted in American