The TWIN PAXTON COBRA
Just 2 ever made
© Wallace Wyss - Feb, 28th.2007
Wallace Wyss is a native of Detroit.
He grew up in Detroit, attended Wayne State University where he earned a BA in journalism and then went into advertising. During the mid-Sixties he was creating muscle car ads for Chevrolet, for cars like the Nova SS and Camaro Z/28. He then moved to California in 1969 to work for CAR LIFE magazine and later for Motor Trend.
In 1973 he began free lance writing and in 1977 wrote Shelby's Wildlife: The Cobras and the Mustangs. He currently contributes to the magazine Car and Driver, and is getting ready to publish Ford GT40 and the New Ford GT with Al Axelrod and Brian Winer as co-authors.
The Snakemeister's Choice
One would expect, back in the day, that Carroll Shelby would have pickedout one Cobra for himself to keep.
And he did. As a matter of fact, he kept several cars. Among them is the first Cobra ever made, CSX2000, which he claims he has been offered $5 million for, and the last 289 Cobra, which now sports a 351-C and an automatic, and a couple of 427 Cobras.
He did, however,eventually let a Daytona coupe go, one he had retrieved from Japan, that sold when he needed $1 million to start up his Las Vegas operation, and he also let go a car that recently made headlines worldwide in car circles when it fetched an incredible $5.5 million dollars when the latest owner sold it at the Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale in January.
That was the twin Paxton 427 Cobra. Shelby liked superchargers ever since he sold them as options in the GT350 Shelby Mustang. In the Shelby he promised a 46% power boost. Now it is unlikely that the twin Paxtons in the 427 side oiler FE produced a similar boost as Octane magazine in their latest issue says that they ran at low boost, only 2 lbs. each, but still Shelby claimed 800 hp.
The odd thing is that the car, CSX3015, also was fitted as per Shelby's orders with an automatic. Not a regular C4 but something called a M6, basically a Lincoln Continental trans with an iron case. Now why a Lincoln?
Because the Lincoln had a massive 460 cu. in engine so was the only automatic on Ford's part shelves that could handle the torque.
Why an automatic? Because unbeknowst to most people, after Shelby's '57 accident at Riverside where he crashed his face into the windscreen when he spun into a dirt bank in a Maserati, Shelby had bone removed from his leg to repair his face and always had a bum leg, in spite of the fact he spent three more years racing.
So he prefers automatics in his personal cars, and has one in his 289/351 Cobra as well.
SN 3015 also has a surplus of gauges, that going back to Shelby's test pilot days during WWII. The author has seen the car but didn't make a list of each gauge, suffice to say there's a big tach, a big speedometer, and about 6 to 8 other gauges including two boost pressure gauges, and a rear diff temp gauge.
Strangely Octane magazine says there is no gas guage because the car came from the ranks of Comp cars. The car wasn't built until at least '66 because at first Shelby thought the big blocks were going to sell like hotcakes but when he failed to make 100 by the time the FIA inpector arrived, the homologation application was denied and demand fell off. Shelby was left with a sea of unsold 427 Cobras. He only saved the day by putting enough street equipment back on the race cars to make the S/C model. He had the car built just as a fun car to drive around, and used it for his annual trips to Elko Nevada with a renegade group of aging playboys who relished in the fact that, back in those days, Nevada had no speed limits out in the countryside, plus in some counties there were still parts that were "wild West" in respect to libidinous pleasures, packing a sixgun and the like.
Shelby claims the car would do 185 mph, it had the power to do more but the shape was more of a brick than the Daytona coupe which coudl do that with a smaller engine.
The car was sold by Shelby American to songwriter Jimmy Webb, one of the best selling songwriters in American history ("By the Time I Get to Phoenix," etc.). Webb kept it for several years, through at least one divorce but finally had to surrender it to the U.S. government to settle a tax lien. They sold it through an ad in Hemmings Motor News for over $300,000, then a high price for a big block Cobra.
It changed hands a couple more times until it got into the hands of Harley Cluxton, who knows Cobras and GT40s and arranged for it to be sold at the Barrett-Jackson.
That would be the end of the twin Paxton big block Cobra story except that there was a twin to the car. That one came about when Bill Cosby , a comedian, ran across Shelby in a grocery store and Shelby started ribbing him for buying Ferraris and such. Cosby said "I'll buy a Cobra if you make one that goes 200 mph" so Cosby was sent a copy of the Shelby twin Paxton. Reportedly he scared the hell out of Cosby's wife so he sent it back, but not before making a record album called "Bill Cosby at 200 mph."
That car was sold by Shelby to a man who drove it on the street and resold it, and it ended up in the hands of a man in San Francisco, last name Maxey, who unfortunately let it get away from him and crashed it, some say into the ocean, others say into a lake. He died of his injuries soon after.
Though one Cobra expert says that he bought it"in a pile of rubble, bent tubing and such" another owner ordered a replacement frame and body from Brian Angliss in England, who by that time was making Cobras in England, and that car was assigned the number of the crashed car. Shelby, in Octane magazine, claims it is not the real car anymore and at the same time took a dig at Angliss, with whom he fought many a battle in print during the early days of the Cobra clonester wars.
That second car is coming up for auction at Monterey in August and the Cobra world will be curious to see if, despite its dubious history, if it fetches anywhere near the price of the pristine original....
Wallace A. Wyss is the author of SHELBY The Man The Cars The Legend