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 427 Cobra CSX3193 - History


The history for ownership before we purchased the car is based on several sources; data from the California DMV, telephone discussions with two previous owners and information from the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC). 

Since the Cobra chassis and body was constructed in England, the history starts with AC Cars in England. 

CSX3193 was built in Thames Ditto, England by AC Cars Limited. It was in the first batch of the 427 style street cars ordered by Shelby American and was delivered with a true 427. Many of the subsequent "427" cobras were actually delivered with a 428 cubic inch Ford motors. The 428 was lower cost (to Shelby) and they were more readily available. The car was shipped from AC Cars Limited to Shelby American in Los Angles on October 13, 1965 . Although there are no specific details, the car obviously suffered minor damage in transit because Shelby American filed a claim against the shipper (Toplis & Harding) for $36.0 on December 31, 1965 as noted in a damage claim invoice that the Shelby American club also had in their package of information on CSX3193. Included below is a copy of the original AC Cars to Shelby American invoice. 

AC Cars to Shelby American Invoice  

On February 7, 1966 the car was invoiced to Hayward Ford located in Hayward, California by Shelby American. As delivered, the car was originally silver with black interior. The car was driven by the son of Hayward Ford’s owner for approximately 400 miles during which time it received minor damage to the left front fender. The car was repaired by Griswold Inc., a well known exotic car restoration shop located in Berkley , California and repainted in a much more popular and traditional Cobra color, Ford guardsman blue. Included below is a copy of the Shelby American to Hayward Ford invoice obtained from the Shelby American Club. 

Shelby American to Hayward Ford Invoice

According to the SAAC registry, CSX3193 was first purchased by Bob Brabant of Hayward on February 11, 1966. The car was returned to the dealer for some minor warranty work (speedometer cable greasing, differential bearing replacement and Sunburst wheel cleanup). No additional details of this ownership have been found.

The car was then sold to the second registered owner, Max Sapp of Boys Hot Springs, California in July 1966.  The state of California DMV records for the years between 1966 and 1974 were no longer available, so the exact date of purchase cannot be confirmed. 

In a effort to increased performance (heavens only know why) Max rebuilt the engine with forged Ford crankshaft, Ford Lemans specification connecting rods, 12.5 : 1 compression pistons, 318 degree Ford cam and other performance parts. The car originally was manufactured with under the chassis exhaust which Max replaced with homemade side exhausts. These exhausts were functional, but were looked somewhat "funky" due to the use of a 3 bolt collector flange to connect the head pipes to the glass pack rather than the Shelby style slip fit connection. The original dual four barrel carburetor and manifold was retained. The original English Celsius reading gauges were also replaced with centigrade reading parts (manufacture unknown.) The rotating assembly was balanced by Vic Hubbard of Hayward , California. An aftermarket engine oil cooler was added within the engine compartment (mounted on the front suspension tower mounts as opposed to the factory location in the lower nose air inlet duct) and the a remote engine oil filter adapter was mounted on the right front tower tubes. During Max’s ownership, the car suffered two minor accidents. In one instance, the right front knockoff came loose and the wheel began to part company with the pin drive hub only to became lodged in the wheel well; thankfully with very minor damage. The second occurrence involved hitting the lower nose on a parking lot concrete bumper. Again the damage was somewhat minor. The history of CSX3193 gets interesting at this point. Max made a verbal agreement with Steve Arntz to do some horse trading on the cobra. The short story is that Steve was to repair the body work and completely repaint the car. In return Steve would be given the opportunity to “…make a fiberglass mold of the front of the car for replacement parts for another foreign car…” This agreement did not go as planned and after a protracted period of time, the car was delivered back to Max with a relatively poorly done "bondo fix" on the nose and the body completely coated with a fiberglass mold releaser agent in lieu of a paint job (i.e. not repainted), dash removed, and numerous other “problems”. This created significant animosity between Max and Steve. Although not confirmed, it is assumed that the molds taken from CSX3193 were used as the basis for the Arntz Cobras produced in the early 1970s.

In November 1974 the CSX3193 was sold by Max to the third registered owner, Walter Cantrell of Napa, California.  Walter filed for a certificate of non-operation with the California DMV from November 1974 through November 1975. While in Walter’s possession, virtually no work was done on the car other than reassembling the pieces and prepping the car for a repaint (i.e. primer applied in several areas.) During this period, Walter was apparently half heartedly negotiating with a potential buyer for the car, but they couldn’t come to agreement on a final price and the car remained in Walter's possession.

We became aware of the potential availability of the car during the late fall of 1976 and contacted Walter to look at the car. We drove to Napa in our 1971 Buick 455 Grand Sport to impress him (yea right) and to look at the cobra firsthand in mid November. Although CSX 3193 was cosmetically in very bad condition and the reliability of the engine was questionable, we reach an agreement. We would pay Walter’s asking price under the condition that the car would be delivered to our home in San Leandro, California. The following Saturday (which by the way was an overcast and drizzly day) the car and Walter showed up driving under its own power and complete with the top on. We exchanged money and bill of sale paperwork and became the fourth registered owner on November 15, 1976.

In 1977 we met Eddy Meyer a master aluminum body craftsman and his apprentice Stewart Hall. Since I had no experience with aluminum bodywork, I relied on input and alternative approaches from Ed and Stewart At this point in time, cobras were not extremely valuable and since we had just purchased our home, a full restoration was not in the cards for us financially. We discussed the pros and cons of the various alternatives and came to agreement on the best way to proceed to return the car to reasonable "street-driver" condition. Ed and Stewart completely stripped the car and worked over the aluminum body in Stewart's home shop. A friend of theirs who was an instructor at a local community college used the college paint booth to apply a very impressive coat of the Ford guardsman blue paint that the car still wears.  

After the paint, I did all of the mechanical work required to freshened it up and make it reliable. Nothing significant was changed in the early days. It became evident that the high compression and camshaft selected by the former owner was more suitable for the track than the street. We pulled the motor in 19__ and installed new pistons and a less aggressive cam to make the car more tractable on the street. We also replaced the dual Holley carburetors with an original Ford "sidewinder" single four manifold and Holley carb. (Yes, I did retain the original manifold and carburetors.) About this time, the original homemade side pipes and headers started to become a problem. The timing was good, because original style reproduction headers and side exhausts had just became available. CSX3193 became the guinea pig for a trial fit of a set of original specification reproduction headers. Since the side pipe access holes thru the body where sized for the homemade headers installed by the previous owner, they required some very minor trimming to accommodate the original spec side pipes.

Although street driven frequently, the car saw limited mileage until a group of other cobra enthusiasts decided to get the start doing some significant driving. The event was known as the "Wind in the Face" tour. The basic concept was take the cobras (and significant other) to head out on pre-selected routes and spend the night at a different bed and breakfast (hence the hook for most of the wives). For three consecutive years (1977, 1978 and 1979) we participated along with 10 or so original cobras touring northern California for 3 days each outing. Seeing (and more importantly hearing) a herd of original 289 and 427 cobras on the roads of California at in this period created quite a sight. We had many great adventures on these tours including drives to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Lassen National Park and other parts of the California Gold country and Sierra Nevada. A highlight of one of these trips was when Dick Smith’s red #198 track 427 cobra broke a valve spring on the second day out. Not to be deterred from the trip, Dick opted to ride with me for the day. This just happed to be the day when our route included the roads around Virginia City, Nevada. Dick had competed in the Ferrari sponsored Virginia City Hill Climb race over the prior several years and his explanation of how he drove his car in the events left me in awe. Suffice it to say that when I was braking for a 90 degree turn (at the legal speed), he was explaining that he was still hard on the throttle.

Although it is great to own a real 427 cobra, even tamed down, the car is can be a real handful on the street. It’s power, coupled with the relatively hot and noisy ride make it less desirable for a fun drive than my replicas, so I tend not to drive it as often as I used to. (I refuse to chalk this up to getting older.)  The car still gets out every few weeks to get some street exercise.

The present specifications for CSX3193 are virtually unchanged from the day that we  purchased it other than the more tractable engine. 

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