My Car Quest

April 12, 2024

Editorial: What Price Originality?

by Wallace Wyss –

You see a couple of real Cobras and lots of replica Cobras at cars-n-coffee events on the West Coast, but one that always stops people in their tracks is the original CSX 3047 owned by a LaCanada/Flintridge collector.

What makes it interesting is that it was one of two originally painted Hertz gold as part of a promotion. Only this one, at some point, was painted blue but most of the blue was removed so that the gold shows through. The present owner bought it in decrepit cosmetic condition after he found out the previous owner wanted to paint it in order to sell it. He thought–why not show it the way it was found after 25 years in storage?

So the present owner gets up early and drives it to various events, all bundled up himself because it doesn’t have a top. I suspect, though the interior has enough heat from the mighty 427 to keep his legs warm.

AC Shelby Cobra - CSX304 front

But my question is: why show a car “as found?” Cosmetically it comes off as decrepit. I think if I wanted to go on a date in a car so finished the lady would object, no matter how historic the car is. Isn’t part of the beauty of a restored car the paint job (fidelity to original color etc.) What if this became a trend and all the paint and upholstery shops were boarded up as collector cars were shown au natural? What if it was against the law to cosmetically alter your car (Don’t laugh, in my father’s town of Alchenstorf, Switzerland it is against the law to change your house’s looks if it is a historic barn haus) as found in barn find condition, I don’t think I could take a whole row of them at a car show. It would start to look like a junkyard. Imagine if Pebble Beach allowed unrestored barn finds in each class?

Would we have to dress in oil stained dungarees and torn T-shirts to match the car? Still I can understand it is fun for the owner to show “Look what I found,” like the big game hunter who went into the jungle, with only a rifle on his back, and emerged carrying a tiger on his back.

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist as well as a writer. For a list of his Shelby, Cobra, and GT40 art, write


Editorial: What Price Originality?
Article Name
Editorial: What Price Originality?
You see a couple of real Cobras and lots of replica Cobras at cars-n-coffee events on the West Coast, but one that always stops people in their tracks is the original AC Shelby Cobra CSX 3047.


  1. The stories that those scars could tell…I’d have to leave it as is.

  2. It is still basically a race car so what your date thinks of it is hardly a concern I would imagine.

  3. Well, not exactly the story. I co-owned CSX 3047 and I am the one that “De-Painted” it as per The Shelby Registry. The car was extremely original. Original seat covers, dash, tag on the diff cooler, tag on the oil cooler, 1 of 2 Hertz Gold S/C’s and never hit. Every other S/C had been repainted/restored. When I realized the original Gold Paint was under the 1970 Lacquer Blue paint over by dealer Carter Gette without first stripping the Original Gold Enamel and using no primer, the mating process was failing and large chips were basically falling off the car. The Gold was there. I figured it was worth a couple of months and a box of razor blades to see if it really was never hit. And, guess what? The Gold went out to all 4 corners. An un-hit Original S/C with what was left of it’s original paint. The only one on the planet. The gent that now owns it bought it from photo’s and thought it looked worse when it arrived in person. He told me he might have to paint it. I told him to take 2 ambien and call me after the first cars and coffee. When the California Cobra crowd saw the car in person, they all told him to NEVER PAINT that car. It is now the single most recognizable 427 S/C in the world and has gotten so much press and TV time. So, if you like it or not, Blame me. It was my insight and decision not to restore. But, it was carefully mechanically refreshed in all ways so it can run the high banks of Daytona if necessary.

    • Rob Krantz says

      Steve, such a great story and I enjoyed your relaying it to me at Alpio’s. Such a cool car. I have seen it in person at Laguna Seca. I was there for the 2012 Historics where the Cobra was the featured marque. Saw it in the pits. I have a couple of photos of the car from then. Glad you made the effort to keep it original, patina and all.

  4. Rob Krantz says

    Another shot from Laguna Seca 2012

  5. John Shea says

    When I looked at the photos of Mr Sunshines Cobra it took me back to Sebring in 64 instantly. Only thing different is the color. History will prove you correct in leaving its lifetime achievements untouched.

  6. Glenn Krasner says

    I was once at the Greenwich Concours de Elegance Auto Show & Auction in Greenwich, Connecticut, and under one of the tents going to auction that Sunday was an “original barn find” 1933 Jaguar SS 2-seat convertible, that had suffered a major car fire, and there was barely anything salvageable on it on the outside or the interior – the springs on the seats were all exposed because the cushions had burned away. The owner had a reserve of $120,000 on it for auction, a car I would not have paid $1.20 for, if you saw how horrid it looked, and would probably require at least $150,000 to restore, money the new owner would never get back. There IS a difference between originality, restoration, and stupidity.
    Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  7. wallace wyss says

    Glenn echoes my point, if you adopt the philosophy of “Why restore anything?” and I’m including houses and yachts And airplanes and motorcycles, are the adherents of natural aging advocating all the restorers hang up their tools and we all just watch everything go to hell? I can take you to formerly posh neighborhoods where that’s happened and it ain’t pretty. I’d be in favor of a time period, not defined by law, where you run it unrestored and then eventually restore it.

Speak Your Mind