Everything You Need To Know About The Shelby Daytona Coupe

by Michael Satterfield Updated -12/27/2021

The Shelby Daytona Coupe is great simply because it was built out of the pure drive to win the FIA World Championship. From 1964-65 the Dayton Coupes were campaigned by the British Alan Mann Racing Ford factory team, as well as temporarily selling or leasing to other racing teams such as “Tri-Colore” of France and Scuderia Filipinetti of Switzerland. The cars were built with the sole purpose of taking on the Ferrari 250 GTO.

Shelby Daytona Coupes raced in the GT Division III, a class for engine displacements over 2000cc. In their first year of competition, finished second (losing by just 6 points) in GT III class for the 1964 World Sportscar Championship. Campaigning in 12-hour and 24-hour races at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring, Imola, Reims, Spa Francorchamps, Goodwood Circuit, Oulton Park, Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie, Monza, and Nürburgring.  In just its second year of racing the Daytona Coupe would take the GT III class by 19 points to win the 1965 World Sportscar Championship, upsetting Ferrari in what would be just the beginning of the Ford vs. Ferrari wars of the 1960s.

A list of the Daytona's most important victories:

1964 12 Hours of Sebring (GT class win, Dave MacDonald/Bob Holbert)
1964 24 Hours of Le Mans (GT class win, fourth overall, Dan Gurney/Bob Bondurant)
1964 RAC Tourist Trophy (GT class win)
1964 Tour de France Automobile (GT class win)
1965 24 Hours of Daytona (GT class win)
1965 12 Hours of Sebring (GT class win)
1965 Italian Grand Prix at Monza (GT class win)
1965 Nürburgring 1000 km (GT class win)
1965 12 Hours of Reims (GT class win, clinched 1965 World Sportscar Championship)
1965 Enna-Pergusa (GT class win)
1965 25 land speed records at Bonneville

After 1965 Ford focused on the GT40 program and the Daytona Coupes were retired, sold off, and some even became streetcars for a time. Only six original Daytona Coupes were built with a seventh Shelby Daytona Super Coupe chassis # CSB3054 that was developed but never completed or raced.

Chassis #CSX2286
Currently owned by Walmart billionaire Rob Walton who famously crashed in 2012 at Laguna Seca during the Rolex Historics, the car was later fully restored.

Chassis #CSX2287
The first prototype built by Shelby America in Venice, California and the car with one of the most extensive racing histories. Winning the GT Class in 1964 at the 12 Hours of Sebring, marking the first victory for the Daytona Coupe. Later the car would go on to set the USAC/FIA World Land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. After its racing career, CSX2287 found itself registered to music producer Phil Spector, the car then vanished for over thirty years before being discovered in a storage unit in California in 2001. Today the preserved car is on display in the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.

Chassis #CSX2299
The first of the Dayton Coupes to be built by Carrozzeria Gransport and driven by racing legends like Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant who won the GT III Class at Le Mans in 1964.

Chassis #CSX2300
Campaigned by Ford of France painted in white with red and blue stripes for the 1965 Nurburgring 1000km where it would place third. After it was returned to Alan Mann Racing and repainted Guardsman Blu MEtallic with white stripes and eventually ended up being owned by Carroll Shelby himself before being sold at auction for $4.4 million dollars in 2000.

Chassis #CSX2601
Won four races in 1965 including Monza, Nürburgring, Reims, and Enna and winning enough points to secure the Manufacturer's Championship. The car would later be featured in the 1965 film 'Red Line 7000' and is currently owned by Gregorio Perez Companc of Argentina.

Chassis #CSX2602
Painted in the Red and White colors of Swiss Racing Team Scuderia Filipinetti at the Le Mans. Ford asked the team, who had made their name racing Ferraris, to buy a Shelby Coupe and race it as their entry for Le Mans as Ford has already entered the maximum number of cars. After Le Mans it was repainted, Guardsman Blue and White, and never professionally raced again.

While only six official Daytona Cobra Coupes were built, other versions were created in period. Like the Willment Daytona Coupe, the Willment Ghia Coupe, and the Ford Cougar II.

Chassis #CSX2131
The Willment Daytona Coupe was built in 1964 by British Ford dealer John Willment who had hired John Ohlsen a Shelby American employee to work in his race shop while he was in the UK. CSX2131 while at a glance looks much like a standard Daytona Coupe, it has a lower roofline, similar to the original design Peter Brock had intended. The car was campaigned and saw success in events across Europe and South Africa. Like many race cars, the Willment Coupe ended up becoming a street car before ending up in the Shelby American collection in 1999.

Chassis #CSX3055
The Willment Ghia Coupe, was another one of John Willment's creation, this time the 427 Cobra chassis be married to a Ghia Supersonic body originally made for the Fiat 8V. The engine was supplied by Holman Moody and fitted with twin four-barrel carburetors.

Chassis #A98
AC also was working on their own Le Mans Cobra Coupe, Shelby didn't know about the car until it was seen testing and it qualified in second place at the 1964 24-Hours of Le Mans. A98 was in the lead group when it began to develop fuel problems, this would later be attributed to sabotaging the cars fuel tank. Later in the race with Peter Bolton behind the wheel, A98 blew a tire and spun out of control before flipping, the Ferrari of Giancarlo Baghetti was also involved in the crash and while both drivers survived, three spectators were killed. AC98 would sit in the corner of the AC race shop until 1972 when Barrie Bird purchased the wreckage from the AC factory. After a 12 year restoration, AC98 was back on the road.

The Ford Cougar II was a concept car based on an early leaf-spring Cobra chassis that was a styling concept. The working prototype was designed by Ford's head of styling Eugene Bordinat and bodied by Italian coachbuilder Vignale. The concept was squarely aimed at taking on the Chevrolet Corvette and was displayed at the 1964 New Yor World's Fair. Today the Detroit Historical Societ owns the Cougar II and its open-top sister car the Bordiant Cobra.

See more of the other Cobras HERE.

Shelby American was one of the first companies to capitalize on "Continuation Cars" offering nearly every classic car they ever made in a limited edition continuation series. While a number of companies have been producing replicas of the Daytona Coupe for years, in 2015 Shelby American announced they would produce a limited run of 50 Daytona Coupes to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 FIA Championship.

Most of us will never have the chance to own even a continuation version of the Shelby Daytona Coupe, but thanks to companies like Superformance, Factory Five, and Shell Valley a basic replica kit to build your own fiberglass Daytona Coupe start at just $12,995.