The Real Story Behind The 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona 427 Super Coupe

The original Shelby Daytona Coupe was based on the Cobra open top roadster. It was an evolution of the Cobra with a premium placed on higher speed, better handling and greater durability for the world’s preeminent endurance races. Six cars were originally made to take on Ferrari right before and during Shelby’s association with Ford and single minded mission to win at Le Mans with the GT40.

With the success of Ford’s GT program, and the competitive nature of racing, even the standard Daytona coupe proved unable to consistently keep ahead of the competition. Thus even as Shelby was committed to seeing the GT40 program succeed, he still wanted his homegrown Cobras and derivatives to stay in the race as well. He tasked Peter Brock, Head of Special Design and Projects at Shelby-American, to develop a successor to the standard coupe.

And so, the “Type 65,” or 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona 427 Super Coupe, was born. It was a unique car for its time, that unfortunately was a victim of circumstance, the ebb and flow of racing, and time. And it is perhaps one of the rarest vehicles ever to be produced by Shelby with only one in existence that was finally finished years after it was originally conceived, designed and assembled.

Let’s take a look at the “Type 65” and its long strange history in the life of a supercar before there ever was such an animal.

The “Type 65” Super Coupe

Peter Brock knew he had a winner on his hands with the standard Daytona Coupe but he also recognized that the design could be improved and massaged in areas to yield better all around performance. After all, it was the Daytona coupe that was an evolved form of the open top Cobra and the benefits of that design and practical exercise were undeniable.

It all started with chassis number CSB3054, which started life in England being hammered out by the same craftsmen at AC who made the Cobras. Peter Brock wanted a clean sheet design tweaking the original 427 roadster chassis with a coil spring suspension replacing the rather antiquated transverse leaf springs in the standard Daytona Coupe.

Brock also recognized the advantage afforded by the Ford 427 NASCAR engine pumping out 500 hp so the body was stretched, widened, and flattened which added up to a somewhat awkward shape. The nose was more pronounced and rounded than the standard Daytona with an undulating shape from front to back.

Also, “[t]he roof on the other hand had been significantly squared, flattened and lowered compared to the older car. Additionally, it featured a strange sunroof panel, ostensibly to improve visibility on the high banks of Daytona. A large rear window then tapered down into the car’s most distinctive feature: its experimental Kamm-tail.” But it is this shape which enabled the car to smash theoretical top speed marks.

RELATED: 15 Sick Facts About Carroll Shelby And The Cars He Turned Into Legends

Built To Win

Unfortunately, the car was ever evolving and work was constantly being shifted at the AC facility. It was eventually shipped to Shelby’s own “Skunk Works” in Los Angeles where it continued development. But the 427 Super Coupe was passed by with the success of the GT40 program and the evolution of the MkII giving way to the MkIV.

With the twilight of Shelby’s halcyon days and association with Ford, the car changed hands several times before falling in the lap of Craig Sutherland. He immediately tasked Mike Dopudja to finish his build in consultation with Pete Brock. And so, 15 years after the project was originally conceived, it was finally finished in 1981.

The final specs of the car were impressive indeed. It weighed in at a mere 2300 lbs. and when fitted with the famed Ford 427 Sideoiler engine now producing 500 hp it would’ve broken every speed record in existence if it raced in 1965. It also had a racing spec Borg Warner T10M 4-speed manual transmission that was quite durable for its day.

Left To Die Stillborn

After that go around, and its involvement in several vintage racing seasons where it proved competitive, it ended up in the hands of George Stauffer where it went through yet another evolution based on Peter Brock’s wish list for the car. Fast forward to today, the car has received a thorough restoration and going over and remains in top form.

About 15 years ago it found a home with Russo and Steel and they put the car up for sale at the Monterey auction in 2007 where it netted $1.32 million. As the Super Coupe is a prototype and the only 427 Cobra Daytona Super Coupe ever made the price at the time seems low but it has surely appreciated since then. You can check it out above getting a shakedown at the track way back when. The rumble of that 427 sideoiler with a quartet of Webers never gets old. Check it out for yourself and be sure to turn up the volume. buckle up

sources: Supercars, Drive Tribe, Top Speed

NEXT: Crazy Craigslist Find: A Real Shelby Cobra 427

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