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Daytona Coupe, 289 and 427 Cobras

Daytona Coupe Cobra -
Introduction


This section comprises the largest part of the web site becasue the original purpose of the site was to document and share with other Cobra enthusiasts the research, design, fabrication and assembly of my Daytona replica.

Only six Daytona Coupes were originally built by Shelby American between 1963 and 1965. The original was chassis number CSX2287. Chassis numbers 2289, 2300, 2601, 2602 and 2286 followed as rapidly as time and materials were available.  These cars were built for the purpose of providing a more aerodynamic Cobra to allow Shelby American to successfully compete with Ferrari on the higher speed road courses.  Although derived from the 289 roadster, the coupe obviously looks completely different.  The rules of the period allowed Shelby to create the aerodynamic body as long as the same engine and chassis were used.

My goal was to create an authentic reproduction of the original cars raced by Shelby American in 1964 and 1965. Authenticity is maintained to the extent of using the correct materials of construction and either reproduction of original or new old stock parts. In the construction of the body, steel or aluminum material is used in the same locations, and with certain few exceptions, in the same type and gauge of material as the originals. Running gear, suspension, gauges, etc. is identical to the originals.

Over a period of several years, I was fortunate enough to obtain data from two of the original six Cobra Daytona Coupes was obtained while they were in the process of being restored. This information was used to create the replica Daytona Coupe detailed in these web pages. During the restoration process of the originals, there were many parts of the Coupe that could be seen, that most people never have an opportunity to observe. This allowed for a very accurate reproduction to be made.  The following photo taken at Sears Point, shows two of the original coupes with my CSX3193 in between.

My initial plan was to have someone build the coupe body for me based on the data and some parts that I could supply. The contractual and logistic aspects along with the inability to find someone willing to undertake the project, dictated another approach. Rather than letting time slip by while brainstorming this new approach, a second 289 chassis was assembled. After completion of the chassis, the next logical move was the construction of the body buck. Still with no takers on the construction of the body, it became evident that for the coupe to be a reality for me, I would have to build it myself.

I will interject at this point, that I am not professionally involved in any of the crafts that would be involved (fabrication, autobody, restoration, etc). This is strictly a hobby for me. Because I was starting at "ground zero" from a basis of actual fabrication ability, I knew the learning curve would be steep. I purchased every video tape on auto body fabrication that I could find and attended several workshops offered by experts in the area of aluminum fabrication. (I would highly recommend the commercially available tapes by John Glover, Ron Covell, Ron Fornier and Kent White alias the Tin Man as excellent for self teaching. Workshops and some one on one time with Ron Covell and Kent White were also invaluable.)

The chassis of the original Cobra Daytona coupes were based on the 289 Cobra roadsters.  The basic roadster chassis is comprised of a dual 3 inch diameter steel tubes running the length of the car.  These main rails are connected together with 3 cross tubes and a small "suspension  tower" at either end which provides the mounting for the transverse leaf springs and shock absorbers.  The most notable coupe additions to the basic roadster chassis was the significant amount of small diameter tubing located above the main tubes to provide more rigidity to the chassis.  The other obvious addition is the tubing required to support the coupe's top, windshield and rear hatch.

The body has been hand formed out of aluminum (just as the originals). The Body is made by shaping sheets of aluminum by hand using an English wheel, sandbag and mallet in the same method that was used for the constructing the cobra roadsters in 1962 through 1965. The panels are formed and compared to the wooden buck (a full size, three dimensional form of the body shape). The buck is used as a gauge to make sure the panel is formed to the proper shape. After the panels are formed, they are trimmed and butt welded together to form the finished body.

One of the primary tools required for the construction of the aluminum body is the English wheel. Mine is home made and is based on John Glover's design. This is an excellent tool and is virtually indispensable for this type of work. I would add that although there are other types of machinery available to perform similar operations, the wheel is especially suited to my needs because of its quiet operation (very helpful for keeping the neighbors at bay when fabrication proceeds past the normal bed time.) Other than the typical collection of body hammers and dollies, the only other "special" tool was a couple of "sandbags". These were again home made with one being filled with sand and one with lead shot. Armed with my video tapes, wheeling machine and sand bags, I tacked the construction of the body.

The forming process is just the beginning of the body. After welding, the welded area is planished (worked smooth with a hammer and dollies) and after sections have been joined the real work starts. To the basic body sections, all of the subtle features need to be added that give the car it's character. These features include items like; air inlet and outlet openings, scoops, fender beading, rolled edges, etc.

The inner panels and foot boxes of the coupe are also formed from aluminum as were the originals. This is in contrast to the "production" 289 and 427 cobra roadsters which used fiberglass for many of the interior pieces such as footboxes and spare tire well.

Most of the panels are fitted into place many times during the building process to check for fit. As can be seen in several of the pictures on the following pages, the aluminum parts are fitted in place and temporarily held in their exact location with clecos. The clecos are a common fabrication technique developed in the aircraft industry, to allow the panels to be easily removed for "fine tuning" and then reinstalled in their exact location before being permanently riveted into place.

This web page and its linked pages will give a short photo history and overview of the construction of my Daytona. I have attempted to ease the method of wandering through the pages by organizing the pages in a relative time line of the construction process. Selecting the "NEXT PAGE" button at the bottom of each page will take you to the next part of the build story in an order that roughly followed the basic sequence of construction.

Have fun.
Chuck

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