My Car Quest

November 27, 2021

How a Ford Engineer Ended Up With the Dream Car He Dreamed Up

by Wallace Wyss –

Now you got to believe there are car enthusiasts employed by automakers. They are not all bean counters…So one of them is Chris Theodore, ex-product development head for Ford. He actually worked for several Detroit automakers and fortunately got to work on several memorable muscle cars.

He’s probably is most remembered for the Ford GT (’05-’06) which he says he thought up while on a plane with other Ford execs to Sweden. He suggested it early in the flight and after a few drinks everybody was for it by the time they landed.

Lesser known was his push for the return of the Cobra. Shelby was still on the payroll at the time and was in favor of it. The Cobra roadster used some of the Ford GT frame, basically making a mid-engine design front engined.

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

The headlights were the least nostalgic, the least successful part of the design.

It’s hard to say if Ford really intended to mass produce it. It was built more to highlight the fact Shelby was on board but the truth is Ford was broke at the time, so it was showing “Hey, we’re flat on our backs but we’re comin’ back.”

The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept, code-named “Daisy,” the debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and was the fulfillment of Shelby’s desire to build a modern version of the car that made him famous, the AC Ace-based Shelby Cobra. Although anyone who was paying attention knew he had already tried that with the Shelby Series 1 sports car, launched in the 1990s, a flopperoo that cost him $2 million.

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

The taillights were not too adventurous.

The Shelby Cobra concept developed by Ford was able to be a much more extreme than the Series 1, as it wasn’t developed for street use. In the aluminum space-frame chassis is a 6.4-liter V-10 equipped with a DOHC design and dry-sump lubrication. The engine was one of just four built by Ford Advanced Powertrain, and rated at 605 hp. It was connected to a 6-speed manual transaxle from the second-generation Ford GT, which was under development at the time.

Another super car at the same time was one loosely based on the Daytona coupe. It actually had better styling and looked great in polished alloy. But Ford only had budget for one car and the GT got green lighted and the other two went where old dream cars go to die. Except that Ford, as they sometimes do, saw an opportunity to generate money for charity and put it up for auction. Not a big major auction at Monterey but a little auction.

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

The dash was pure inspiration, going back to the good old days–no video screen, all that modern crapola gone

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

On paper it would top 200 mph. Ford never said what speed Shelby got to when testing it.

Chris Theodore, wherever he was (he may have left Ford by then) but he found out. He managed to put together over $800,000 and buy it. Now you might assume what good was it–Ford had it deliberately hobbled it so it could only go 5 mph but turns out the man in charge of hobbling was Theodore. So he un-hobbled it. I can’t say how it was registered. Seems it could be registered as an assembled car like a kit Cobra. After a while he takes it to big auction at Monterey, where millionaires compete with each other to see who can spend the most money on a rare car. It was hammered down a sale for over $2 million.

Now I hafta give Chris credit. He got to own the very same car he had conceived. And the very same car Ford spent millions of dollars on. And got to move it down the road in a deal which put an extra million or so in his bank account for retirement…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has authored three books on Ford GTs, Cobras and Shelbys and is currently looking for an agent for his suspense thriller Ferrari Hunters. He can be reached at photojournalistpro2@gmail.com

 

 

 

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How a Ford  Engineer Ended Up With the Dream  Car He Dreamed Up
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How a Ford Engineer Ended Up With the Dream Car He Dreamed Up
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I give Chris Theodore credit. He got to own the very same car he had conceived (the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept). And the very same car Ford spent millions of dollars on. And got to move it down the road in a deal which put an extra million or so in his bank account for retirement...
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