My Car Quest

May 29, 2020

The Long Lost Prototype Shelby Daytona Coupe: The Saga of CSX 2287

by Wallace Wyss –

When I first came to California in 1965,I was aware of Shelby American, and visited there to see the new 427 Cobra but didn’t notice the tattered Cobra Daytona coupes parked outside the plant with FOR SALE signs on them. Turns out that the GT40 was Ford’s imperative and the poor ol’ Daytonas, which could only muster up 175 mph or so on the Mulsanne straight were put out to pasture.

This is the story of one of them. The actual prototype which was bodied in the US by Bill Honda, who had a metal shop. The design was by Pete Brock who was assisted at Shelby American by Ken Miles and Phil Remington.

The regular race shop employees were dubious that a young kid like Brock could come up with an original design that would beat Ferrari’s 250 GTO. But the criticism stopped when, in their first test at Riverside, it was clocked at 185 MPH. Ford figured the cars were done after they helped Ford win the World‘s Manufacturers title in ’65.

The car’s last racing venture was when Bonneville record setter, Craig Breedlove took it to Bonneville and set some new records, 23 in all.

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe Art

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – art by Wallace Wyss

The cars began to be pirated for parts so Shelby lowered the price from $6000 to $4000 just to get them out the door. A model car producer bought one. His name was Jim Russell, owner of Russkit Models, and he paid $4,500. But there were Hollywood guys that wanted it, guys who wanted to troll up and down Sunset Boulevard in something snazzy like Dean Martin Jr. who had a Ferrari 412 to do the same thing. This time the show off was none other than music producer Phil Spector, who not only drove the Coupe on the streets but painted all sorts of dubious claims on the car so you’d be sure to notice it was a race car.

At some point Spector had accumulated so many tickets that he thought of junking it. But his bodyguard, an ex-cop named George Brand came up with a $1,000 offer and Spector took it. Brand took it home to Orange county where his daughter drove it to high school. Her name, when she married, became Donna O’Hara. Neither she or her husband were interested in selling. Even no less than Carroll Shelby approached her wanting to buy it. But the marriage broke up and she ended up putting it into storage.

Shelby Cobra Daytona Poster

Flash forward to the early 2000 when a Wisconsin vintage Cobra dealer told me at that time “a crazy lady in Los Angeles owns the car but she won’t sell.” Even Lynn Park, who owns more than twelve real Cobras, was unsuccessful.

So then and here’s where the story becomes a sort of Urban Noir story tailor made for the movies. On or about October 22, 2000, Donna is found dying late one night on a hiking path in Fullerton. She didn’t drive there so it’s unknown how she got there, carrying two pet rabbits.

She was badly burned, having been doused with gasoline that was lit afire. She had no identification so the police didn’t know who she was. It wasn’t until weeks later when an ex boyfriend, with whom she owned a house, found out the house payment hadn’t been made. He reported her missing. Finally the police had a name to go with the body.

The Cobra? It was in storage. Her 80-plus year old mother, in going through her daughter’s papers, found a letter from a British car hunter based in a town near Santa Barbara. The letter was one of many offers for the car. The mom went to look for the car. It was in storage along with five much lesser cars. She yanked it out and sold it to the British car hunter. Ironically the owner of a Shelby Museum in Colorado was set to buy it but didn’t get his travel arrangements made fast enough and a Philadelphia surgeon bought it instead, paying over $3 million.

Ferrari 250 GTO Art

The GTO preceded the Cobra Daytona by at least a year so it was a definite influence on young Brock – art by Wallace Wyss

The new buyer had his own museum, and has shown the car in only slightly restored condition, you might say almost “as found.” A court case then came up when a long ago boyfriend of Donna, a boyfriend who had driven the car when they were high school classmates, showed up with a piece of paper where she had given him all five cars in storage. The poor mother, who had already given some of the sale proceeds to charity, had to cough up the money to pay the ex-boyfriend, Kurt Goss.

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe art

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – art by Wallace Wyss

Rock and roll producer Phil Spector even weighed in, claiming he only entrusted the car to his bodyguard for safekeeping. But his claim didn’t get far. He’s probably still ticked off. He is, incidentally, doing time for the murder of a young lady.

The Museum still has the coupe and Shelby fans can see a car that was successful ever so briefly, a car that was designed back in the days before computers were common, when racing was still by-guess-and-by-gosh.

The Shelby Cobra Daytona CSX 2287 is the first motor vehicle to be listed in the US National Historic Vehicle Register.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss wrote three books on Shelby. His fine art paintings of significant Shelby American cars are available. for more info, contact mendoart7@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Shelby Cobra Daytona CSX2287

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – Road & Track

Summary
The Long Lost Prototype Shelby Daytona Coupe: The Saga of CSX 2287
Article Name
The Long Lost Prototype Shelby Daytona Coupe: The Saga of CSX 2287
Description
At some point Phil Spector, the music producer, had accumulated so many traffic tickets that he thought of junking his Shelby Daytona Coupe. But his bodyguard, an ex-cop named George Brand came up with a $1,000 offer and Spector took it.
Author

Comments

  1. Martin Schroeder says

    Did you ever meet – and speek to – Jim Profit? The stoty of how he found the 1940 Mille Miglia Coupé is a similar one and worth publishing.

    Kind Regards

    Martin Schroeder

  2. Glenn Koerner says

    As mentioned above this car resides at the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. For information about the museum the web site is http://www.simeonemuseum.org. The museum was honored this year by the Classic Car Trust to be named the number 1 Automotive Museum in the world. This car and the others are exercised on scheduled Demonstration days, you can see the 2020 schedule on the website. It is an amazing collection of racing sports cars.

    Glenn Koerner
    Volunteer Simeone Automotive Museum

  3. “Bill Honda had a metal shop” !!
    (California Metal Shaping)
    That’s like saying Sinatra was a some singer in L.A.

  4. Ken Phillips says

    Interesting article on the Cobra coupe. The Philadelphia surgeon is Dr. Simeone. Dr. Simeone and I were friends and customers of the incredible aluminum body spealist, Harry Tidmarsh. Harry had worked on my DB4 and had decided for himself that my new Bizzarrini needed the front spoiler he made as a favor. That spoiler worked swell and is hanging in Mr. Gulett’s garage. Dr. Simeone took me to his collection including the Cobra coupe then near his hospital in Philadelphia. I was surprised to see that the Cobra had not yet been restored.. It is still not restored Dr Simeon having decided to keep it as he got it.
    Dr. Simeone has since moved his collection to near the Philadelphia airport. “The Simeone Foundation Automotive Meuseum.” voted the #1 Car Collection in the world.
    Dr. Simeone keeps the cars in running condition and often has selected cars brought outside and driven by the mechanics dedicated to maintaining the car around for the audience to see and HEAR.

    This Cobra coupe came to a good place unless someone prefers special cars “restored”. The last time I was there one of the original Corvette Gran Sports was taken out and run around. Dr. Simeone and I retired to the maintenance shop and “bench raced” about the period for some of the cars like the Cobra and Gran Sport. I am supposed to come back and give a presentation at the museum if we can find enough photos or videos to go with it.

    For folks not having visited the museum it is available on line.

  5. ~ Very interesting, and beautiful artwork. Thanks.

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