My Car Quest

December 2, 2021

A Day In The Life

How a Cobra is the raison d’etre for a famous Beatles song.

by Wallace Wyss –

I don’t have Sirius radio, but whenever I have a test car that does, I tune to the Beatles Channel, where they have experts that go into each of the Beatles songs and discuss the song’s gestation. Now I never happened to listen to it when they discussed the song A Day in the Life but it’s a sadder song when you realize it’s a funeral elegy for a friend of theirs–the right honourable Tara Browne. A young man whose life was cut short.

I’m sure a Cobra isn’t named in the song but it was his passion for his Cobra that got young Mr. Browne killed. The Cobra, COB6107 was one of 25 Cobra MkIIIs built with the 289 engine for the British and European market but with the body shape of the 427 big block. Shelby reserved the Cobra trademark for cars he sold, so these big block looking cars were marketed as AC 289 Sports. COB6107 was ordered new in 1965, painted red with black trim.

Tara Browne's Cobra

The buyer was a mop-haired 20-year old man about town named Tara Browne, whose father was the Anglo-Irish aristocrat, Dominick Browne, 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne and a member of the House of Lords. His mother was an heir to the Guinness brewing family.

Young Browne was in both the art and music world, and hung out with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. When the Cobra was delivered to him, he created an art car by
hiring two artists, Dudley Edwards and David Vaughn, to do their thing, which resulted in a sort of psychedelic piece of art on four wheels.

They had previously done a Buick Electra Convertible that was featured on the cover of The Kinks 1967 album Sunny Afternoon and the so-called Magic Piano produced for Paul McCartney.

First the car was displayed at a gallery on Duke Street in Mayfair. Then that October, Tara Browne, with some partners, opened Dandie Fashions on King’s Road in Chelsea, a very trendy fashion district for young people, and the same art collective was hired to paint the shop front and interior. The plan was to display the Cobra there when the shop re-opened.

Tara Browne, on the night of December 17th 1966, was in too much of a hurry to get to the opening in his Lotus Elan and crashed into a parked lorry. He died the next day of his injuries.

John Lennon was so distraught, he wrote a song about it – A Day in the Life – which appeared on the 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I quote some of the lyrics:

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph

He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords…

The Cobra, after some subsequent owner drove it across America, where it resided for some decades, was eventually repainted and sold. It even had an American owner before returning to its native land.

You wonder if the present owner, hearing this song on the radio, has any idea it’s about the young man who saw this particular car not just as a car but as a canvas for fine art?

Well, it’s role in psychedelia is gone now, as is the man that conceived that role…only the song remains as its contribution to fine art…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has written three books on Shelby’s cars. He is currently creating Cobra art work. For a list of prints available write malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 

Tara Browne's Cobra

Tara Browne’s Cobra – When the car came to auction four decades later
it was painted a burgundy solid color

Summary
A Day In The Life
Article Name
A Day In The Life
Description
John Lennon was so distraught about the death of Tara Browne, he wrote a song about it - A Day in the Life - which appeared on the 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Author

Comments

  1. This car deserves at least a model and a painting to become immortal if not brought back to its colorful life!
    Cheers WW, are you a painter?
    Luca

  2. wallace wyss says

    I have thought why doesn’t the present have the same artists come back and reproduce their work on the car but I followed their careers a bit to find only one of the two became a celebrated artist and the other not so much so maybe there’s little chance of them working together, if indeed they are both still alive,,,

  3. Tony Olissoff says

    Great car and paint job. I’d have it back in those colours anyway.
    Fantastic pic too. Anybody else notice Tony Soprano in the background?

  4. Anthony Rainone says

    Interesting story,
    Thanks for sharing. I will always think of that car now when I hear the song.

  5. wallace wyss says

    I thought what a natural thing to do–they reacted to the news as songwriters.I wonder if it was driven across the US by a later owner in that livery or painted over before it left the UK?

    To the question, am I an artist, yes, write me at malibucarart@gmail.com I’ll send a list of prints. I am even making a painting of this car….

  6. I like the purple livery of the car as it is today, and it is well known in ACOC circles in England. Still would be cool if it was in its psychedelic paint job.

  7. wallace wyss says

    For all one time Beatlemaniacs there is a new TV series featuring footage shot in studio in the Sixties, I haven’t seen it but just the preview beings back old memories

    The Beatles: Get Back – See Never-Before-Seen Footage
    Ad·
    https://www.youtube.com/
    Watch Peter Jackson’s Original Docuseries Streaming November 25 only on Disney+.

    • This was to be a 90 minute movie released in the movie theaters , but because of all the great footage it is now being released as a there part , three hour series by Disney. To be release on thanksgiving day.

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