The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

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Lot 141

1963 Shelby 289 Cobra

  • Chassis no. CSX 2121

Sold for $935,000


271 bhp, 289 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, ladder-type steel tubing chassis with independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs and tube shock absorbers, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.

  • Listed in the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s
  • Believed 13,739 original miles
  • Outstanding overall restoration


The history of Anglo-American hybrid sports cars can be traced back to the original Ford V-8 of 1932, which provided bulletproof engines to power elegant two-seaters. Famous marques with this configuration between the wars included Jensen, Brough Superior, Railton, Batten, and a homebuilt V-8 Ford special that even won the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally.



But Carroll Shelby’s 1962 Cobra Roadster represents the pinnacle of the concept. It was a matter of perfect timing. Shelby, at 37, was winding up a very successful racing career, which had peaked in 1959, when he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race for Aston Martin. Shelby became the Goodyear Racing tire distributor for the Western U.S. in 1961, and he started his own racing school at Riverside Raceway in California. All he needed was a car bearing his name.



As the new cars were completed in Shelby’s California factory, many headed straight to the race track. The first 75 cars were powered by the 260-cubic inch motor, which then gave way to the 289-cubic inch Windsor V-8. In race prep, this could generate up to 370 horsepower in a car that weighed only 2,000 pounds—500 less than the Corvettes. The Cobras gave GM fits, starting with Dave MacDonald’s first victory at Riverside a year later on February 2, 1963. MacDonald smoked a field of Corvettes, Jaguars, Porsches, and Maseratis, and every hot-blooded sports car aficionado in the U.S. wanted a Shelby Cobra, like the example offered here.



According to the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s, CSX2121 was billed to Shelby American on May 20, 1963, and it was shipped to Los Angeles aboard the SS Dongedyk. On July 25, 1963, the car was invoiced to Harold Turner Inc., of Birmingham, Michigan, at a base cost of $5,195, plus options and freight, for a total of $5,699.50. The earliest owner of CSX2121 is E. Neill Babbs, of Miami, Florida, who advertised it for sale in mid-1970, with 12,000 original miles. It was purchased by Walter Clay, also of Miami, in August that same year. Clay kept the car for approximately eight years. Subsequent owner Allen Woodall, of Georgia, advertised the car, having restored it at this point and advertising as such.



On February 10, 1987, CSX2121 was purchased by Kurt Carlson. According to documentation accompanying the car, Colonel Carlson had spent a number of years looking for an early, low-mileage example, and he finally settled on the purchase of this car. Colonel Carlson was the steward of this car for 24 years, and he looked after the car with a full desire to preserve as much originality as possible.



As presented today, showing 13,739 miles on the odometer, the car is finished in brilliant red, with fresh black upholstery in the cockpit. The car is wonderfully patinated throughout, due to the originality of items like the windshield, sun visors, front badge, and even smaller items like the hood and trunk latches, with their partial chassis number stampings reading “121.” Ancillary items in the engine bay, such as the cylinder heads, intake manifold, carburetor, harmonic balancer, and washer bottle, appear correct as well. It comes further equipped with a chromed roll bar, chromed hood latches, a Rotunda tachometer and Smiths gauges, chromed 6-inch knock-off wire wheels shod with Goodyear Polyglas tires, as well as a full spare, a dash-mounted rearview mirror, chromed nerf bars with bumper overriders in the front and rear, and a quick-fill fuel cap. Nicely presented, this 289 Cobra can be carefully enjoyed while also preserving its integrity as a low-mileage example.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more