Shelby 289 Cobra

by Michael Satterfield

The original 289 Cobra, for me, is the prettiest car to ever come out of the Shelby American and AC Cars Limited Partnership. It is the quintessential 60s sports car and represents the start of Carroll Shelby's partnership with Ford which resulted in Shelby American's legendary victories in the SCCA, FIA, and LeMans. While most enthusiasts and replica builders prefer the wide fenders of the 427 Cobra, the "Slab Side" cars have an understated elegance that the big block cars fail to capture.

This Cobra Sports Roadster, offered by RM Private Sales, was shipped to the US on November, 7th, 1963 to Shelby American's Venice facility where it was fitted with its 271 hp, 289 Hi-Po V8 and four-speed manual transmission. The car invoiced to Pearson Ford in San Diego in January 1964 with an MSRP of $6,747.50 with options, license, and tax (about $55,600 today adjusted for inflation).

The car was originally sold to noted San Diego architect and Formula 1 driver Henry Hartwell Hester in September 1964. In 1967 Hester repainted the car black, in 1969 the car was damaged in an accident while in for service at a local dealership, once repaired, Hester sold the Cobra in 1970 to James Gauthier of El Cajon, California.

Gauthier modified the car for Solo I competition and campaigned the car into the early 80s before selling it to Ken Champion. Champion sold the car in the late 1980s to Investment Motorsports of Illinois who returned the car to its original condition before selling to  Gerald A. Schwalbach of Minneapolis, Minnesota, acquired the car in 1989.

Recently the car was restored and refinished in its original white with red interior, riding Michelin XWX tires which are mounted on chrome wire wheels. While the original engine is lost to time, an original 289 K-Code engine has been fitted to the original Borg-Warner T-10 aluminum four-speed manual transmission. The body is original with the doors, hood latch, and trunk latch, each stamped correctly with “2216.”

1964 Shelby 289 Cobra
RM | Private Sales
Chassis No. CSX 2216
Accompanied by AC Cars Limited and Shelby American invoices
Documented with its original window sticker
Includes original AC Cobra Chassis Instruction Book in original envelope
Features rack-and-pinion steering

Photos by Patrick Ernzen, Courtesy of RM Sotheby's