The Hank Williams Cobra

by Michael Satterfield

It is a rare sight to see an original Cobra on the road, even at car shows many of the "Cobras" are simply replicas, but rarer still is finding an original car, with the original owner. A plaque on the windshield reads "History-Making Cobra" and that statement is true in more ways than one. Hank Williams moved to Southern California in 1964, an aspiring racing driver piloting an Austin Healey 3000, but the world of sports car racing was moving towards bigger engines and faster lap times and the old Healey was not going to cut it much longer. The new Cobra as being raced at Riverside International Raceway not far from Hanks home in Fontana, and less than a year after seeing a Cobra on the track, he was at the dealership purchasing his car.

But it was not as simple as that, the dealership that had sold Hank the car did not really own it, it was on loan from another dealer as a display item, when he returned to pick the car up the next day it had gone back to the dealer in Pomona that had loaned out the car. After about two weeks of run around and red tape he threatened to sue, the next day the car magically appeared.

Hank was soon hitting the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing events in Southern, California. For 10 years the hank and his machine competed in 394 events and took home 35 trophies, including a plaque that commemorated his drive as the first African-American to drive around Indianapolis Speedway. 

The car is almost 100% original, having had minor race damage repaired over the years, even the Hard Top was a factory Shelby option, and a rare one at that. And that grey-blue paint... it is some kind of a mistake, the car was supposed to be light blue, but three cars left the factory with this unique color. Hank guessed that they just had a little silver and a little blue so they mixed them and painted the car.

Hank is now 72 years old and has owned the car for nearly 50 years, look for him at events, he is still active with the Shelby clubs and attends several shows a year.