1963 Shelby King Cobra Cooper Type 61M

Film clips show MacDonald almost sideways and he never lifts or moves the wheel as he slides through the turn, lap after lap. It is breathtaking to watch

In 1963, Carroll Shelby needed a car to compete in the USAC-sanctioned Fall Series on the West Coast, which evolved later into the SCCA Canadian American Challenge Series, the Can-Am.

Shelby’s Cobras had already won SCCA’s A/Sports Racing title and the USRRC Championship, but the season was almost over. He had time, he had drivers, he needed a car.

Shelby’s solution was to go back to Europe and buy two mid-engined Cooper Monaco sports racers-CM/1/63 and CM/3/63-and to adapt them to his full-race 289 cubic inch Ford V8s. The cars carried four Weber carburetors and a BMC/Huffaker 4-speed transaxle, soon replaced by a Colotti 4-speed.

The first two cars competed in the 1963 Fall Series. CM/1/63 was driven by Dave MacDonald and CM/3/63 by Bob Holbert, until his retirement in 1964. After that it was driven by Dave MacDonald, Ken Miles, Augie Pabst, Skip Scott, Ed Leslie, and Ronnie Bucknum. In 1966 it sold to Alex Budurin with the current ZF 5-speed, but Budurin died and his widow sold it to Dwayne Zinola, who won a national championship with it. Don Ivey owned it next, blew it up, and sold it to Robert Green, who completed a sympathetic restoration in 1991.

It now looks as it would have in 1963, and is the only survivor of the first King Cobra season.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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