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The Shelby Cobra Strike

 Fifty years ago Independence Day celebrations were made all the sweeter for petrol heads in the USA by the triumph of Shelby Cobra in the 1965 FIA World Sportscar Championship, clinching the title on July 4th at Reims. Remarkably it was the first World Title for an American car company, Ford would build on this to be the dominant player in the sport for the next 10 years.  The Shelby Daytona Cobras had been born out of the desire of 1959 Le Mans' winner, Carroll Shelby, to repeat his triumph over Ferrari with a car bearing his own name. He was riding the crest of the wave that Ford were making in the motorsport universe in the early '60s. Shelby created a powerful and successful GT roadster out of the anaemic AC Ace.  However, victory at La Sarthe depended on matching the top speed of the rival Ferraris and the open car suffered as a result of the high drag inherent in such a vehicle. A coupe was the answer and Shelby commissioned Peter Brock to solve the problem and in doing so he created one of the great sports cars of all time.  Right from the start the Daytona coupes were extremely competitive, seeing off the Ferrari 250 GTO at Sebring and Le Mans in 1964, however the title just eluded the Americans that year.  1965 would be a different manner, class wins at Daytona and Sebring got the season off with a bang. This was followed up with further class victories at Spa, Nürburging, Le Mans and finally at the Reims 12 Hours, the title was secured well before the season ended.  Other than a spot of record breaking at Bonneville that would be the end of the road for the competition career of the Daytona Cobras. Carroll Shelby had bigger fish to fry, being enlisted to to help Ford finally take outright victory at Le Mans in 1966. Just six of these amazing racers were built, and they now fetch prices at auction that almost match those of their Ferrari rivals of the time. Truly special vehicles from a special time. (Photos: copyright and courtesy of The Ford Motor Company)
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