The Real Story Behind The 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept Car

The 2004 Shelby Cobra concept car was meant to be the last car to bear the legendary Shelby name. In the words of American hero and cultural icon Carroll Shelby, “this is it, this is my last hurrah.” The Shelby Cobra concept car is as close to perfection as a car can get. Like it’s predecessor the Shelby Cobra 427, the 2004 Shelby Cobra concept car ticks every single box.

Funny enough the car wasn’t actually built or designed by Carroll Shelby. It is the brain child of J Mays and Chris Theodore together with the help of the Ford design team. The process of building the Shelby Cobra concept car was codenamed “Project Daisy”but in the immortal words of J Mays, Daisy was “anything but a shrinking flower.”

The 2004 Shelby Cobra concept car was inspired by its namesake the classic AC Cobra. The car was minimalistic in its design long before minimalism became a trend. If you didn’t know any better you would think that the Shelby Cobra concept car was just a timid show pony when in fact it was a mustang, or more accurately a Cobra.

Related: The True Story Behind The Shelby Cobra 427

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Carroll Shelby is about as big as one can get in the automotive industry. Carroll Shelby is the only person to win the 24 hours Le Mans endurance race as a driver with Aston Martin in 1959, as a manufacturer with the Cobra Daytona coupe in 1964, and as a team manager in 1966 and 1967 with the Ford GT program.

The discussions for the 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept car first took place in 2003 when Shelby was 80 years of age. Despite his advanced age Carroll Shelby was just as excited as anyone at the prospect of building Daisy.

Speaking about both the original Shelby Cobra and the 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept car Carroll Shelby said, “I never dreamed it would become an icon, as it did. I was just trying to kick the s**t out of Corvette. I’m 80 years old, transplanted heart and transplanted kidney. I wake up three times a night with new ideas. There are so many things left in the world that I want to do that I don’t even care what I’m remembered as. I just want to be there to do a few of those things, and building a new Cobra is Number 1.”

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

2004 Shelby Cobra concept car

It only took Ford’s Advanced Product Creation team 5 months to design and build the 2004 Shelby Cobra concept car. Paradoxically the car is both similar and different from its predecessor the 427 Shelby Cobra, but that is by design. When quizzed about the development process of the Shelby Cobra concept car J Mays stated, “the biggest yin and yang on this project was trying to strike a balance getting enough Cobra in there, but absolutely dogmatically keeping it modern.” Needless to say they succeeded.

The car weighs about 3000 pounds, it has no radio, no roof, no side glass. It just is, and that’s it’s secret.


The Shelby Cobra Concept car wasn’t just a pretty concept car it was a “full-on runner”. Daisy features a 427 Shelby-inspired all-aluminum 6.4-liter V10 engine that produces 605 horsepower and 501 lb-ft of torque. The engine was adapted from Ford’s MOD family.

“It’s a massive motor in a tiny, lightweight car, that’s the formula,” Carroll Shelby said.

Theoretically the car can reach speeds of up to 260 mph however, Daisy is electronically limited to just 100 mph.

GT inspired chassis

The Ford Shelby Cobra concept car was specially equipped with a lot of components that were derived from the Ford GT. The suspension, transaxle, brakes, cooling system, and most notably the space frame were all taken from the Ford GT.

Despite all of this Daisy is still around 2 feet shorter than the GT, with a wheelbase that is almost 7 inches shorter.

Related: 15 Ford Concept Cars That Are Better Than The 15 We Got

A Touch Of Fate

In an unusual twist of fate, the engineer that played a major role in the development of the 2004 Shelby Cobra concept car ended up purchasing the car years later at an auction. Chris Theodore placed a winning bid of $825,000 for the car at the GAA classic car auction.

The Final Word

When you build a new Shelby Cobra only one man’s opinion truly matters and that man is Carroll Shelby. When Shelby first saw how Daisy looked when it was finally completed he said, “I love it. It’s right. I’ve waited 40 long years for this and Ford made it happen. It would have to go through the development process to become a production car, of course, but it’s a Cobra”

Unfortunately Daisy never made it to production but that does not take anything away from the fact that it is a truly magnificent car worthy of the Shelby name.

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