The Cobra people 
© Wallace Wyss, Wolfgang Kohrn - April 16th. 2007


CSX3042 is Ned Scudders own Cobra, here shown at the SAAC-27 meeting

Ned Scudder, age 57, of LaJolla, CA, could just sit on a terrace looking out at the sea and marvel at the rich aquatic life off the coast of California's most beautiful seaside town. 

But instead he toils away until the midnight hour each night updating his Register of A.C. Cobra CSX2000 and CSX 3000 cars for the new SAAC Register scheduled for release sometime in the latter part of 2008. 

Wallace Wyss, author of SHELBY, The Man The Cars The Legend, contacted Ned during the writing of his latest book .....
and decided to share
with the world exactly how well Ned is doing with his long awaited up-date
of the Cobra Register for the Shelby American Automobile Club.
























































Exclusive  interview with
Ned Scudder SAAC-Cobra Registrar  

about the new SAAC Cobra bible

Interview with the Registrar by Wallace Wyss

I started keeping notes on Cobras over 30 years ago, and have been the club’s registrar since ’78. I am a detail-oriented type of person. " 
Ned Scudder tells  us about his life of being a registrar, the new Cobra bible and some rare Cobra chassis

Wyss: Ned, what is the story? How's the update coming?

Scudder: I am about 90% done. There ARE still a few CSX numbers I am chasing.

Wyss: Which is harder to document, the CSX2000 small block cars or the CSX3000 cars?

Scudder: It’s a toss-up. A missing car is a missing car. I try to find them no matter if they are a 289 or 427.

Wyss: When Shelby closed his factory was there a document that had all the SN and what color and configuration the cars came in, saying for instance if a car was a Comp or S/C rather than a 427 road car?

Scudder: Not so much one document, by many, including maybe 95% of the original invoices from Shelby-American to the respective dealers. Sometimes they spell out “Com[p” or S/C” and sometimes they don’t, so you have to take your best guess based on the price charged the dealer. It’s the same with the small block cars, we know which ones had comp options right from the beginning and which had to have them added later.

Wyss: Now what about a customer buying a road car and going back and getting the S/C mods like through the body side exhausts, Comp gas cap etc. Did that happen while Shelby still had his factory?

Scudder: No, Shelby learned early on that it was counterproductive to ask his shop to customize a car for an owner, so they pretty much left that to the dealers or their independent contractors, only one or two cars had roll bars or wider wheels installed at Shelby-American ; for some others, they packed the equipment in the trunk and asked the owner to take care of installation once the car was purchased. I suspect this was because of one instance where they added race wheels and the customer balked at the additional price, and never did by the car, so , no ore of that.

Wyss: We all know now about the famous twin Paxton Cobras, now that one sold for $5.5 million. but my question is do you consider the second one, the ex-Cosby car, to be a real Cobra now that the frame and body have been replaced?

Scudder: I consider it a “reconstruction” which of course differentiates it from a substantially original car, both in terms of desirability and, as a result, value. For instance, the ex-Cosby car, #3303 does at least have its original engine block once again, but having been rebuilt back in the ‘70s in right and drive form with numerous custom touches definitely removed it from the lists of a number of serious collectors . Now that it ahs been returned to left-hand drive and given proper upholstery, etc. it is more valuable to a collector but will always be a ‘reconstruction’ rather than the original Thames-Ditton/Shelby-American/ex-Bill Cosby Cobra it once was.That will never change.

Wyss: I have been to Ford Dearborn and been loaned a ring of keys to several buildings where there are old Concept cars in storage. Do you think Ford still has one or two Cobra chassis around?

Scudder: Yes, we know they still have the Cougar II ()CSX2008) and the Bordinat Cobra (CSX3001) .They ;might have more, but no one there seems to know.

Wyss: One car I have been trying to find a picture of is the Ghia Cobra 427 , dark blue, white wheels, ‘goosebeak’ tan leather interior, liftoff hardtop. I heard the body was taken off in Belgium and it was rebodied as a regular 427. But I also heard it was 6" longer so do you think it was rebodied?

Scudder:I suspect you are referring to CSX3063. There remains some intrigue about that chassis, and the evidence that the show car chassis is actually the one using the 3063 VIN today is slightly muddy. We’ll list it unless new evidence comes along to clarify the situation.

Wyss: Why hasn't anybody put a Cobra body back on the Comp 427 chassis that Willment Racing bodied with a '53 Ghia-built fiat body (style called Supersonic)?

Scudder: Probably because the car was somewhat iconic and well known in the U.K. and to change it at this date would be to strip it of the identity it gained back in the ‘60s and turn it into another look alike with an altered history. Better to leave it as it has always has been.

Wyss: What's the average number of owners a real Cobra has been through--five, ten, 15?

Scudder: It all depends, we still list a half dozen Cobras that remain with their original owners, while some cars have changed hands almost 20 times in the past 40-plus years.

Wyss: Lynn Park, Cobra collector extraordinaire, told me that many Cobras started out as road cars, then were fixed up as Comp cars and now are being changed back? Do you find often that someone with a comp car still believes it was a Comp car.

Scudder: If a car has documented race history from the ‘60s, we consider it to have been some type of period comp car. If the changes were made later, it is simply a modified Cobra. Buyers tend to decide how much value to place on modified cars, not us. The market seems to favor cars with a documented provenance, meaning that some cars with Comp features added later might not bring as much as if they had been left stock. That’s why you see some owners changing their quasi-Comp cars back to street models.

Wyss: I once saw a picture of a early Cobra at Ford Dearborn(I recognize the curvy wall, having climbed over it once to take a spy picture) and it had no windshield frame but the window was full width and heighth with rounded corners. Do you remember this car? Was this the first Cobra Ford ever got to work with?

Scudder: We believe they were just experimenting with different approaches to the look of the windscreen, but we do not know which car they were working with.

Wyss: Are you familiar with the Ed Freutel Cobras prepared by Frank Monise? Were they both 427s? Did they come back from Europe or stay there?Did they completely fail in their European campaign?

Scudder: Freutel owned 3019, his Comp car and 3617, which he called his ‘practice car.’ Both were placed on the market after a difficult 1966 racing season and both remained there (in Europe).

Wyss: In the Register, how many Cobras will have pictures?

Scudder: As many as we have recent photographs for. 

Wyss: What information do you want on cars, and do you only want it from the present owners?

Scudder: We welcome info from any source. It can be the owner who owned a given car five owners ago. I will e-mail a form to anybody who emails me saying they know the history of a specific CSX2000 series or CSX3000 series Cobra.

Wyss: So what you're looking for, is basically a certain point of time when a car was a specific color exterior and interior, etc.? 

Scudder: Yes, say a guy writes and says "When I was in high school in Royal
Oak, Michigan in 1962 I used to see a white Cobra, black interior, chrome wire wheels, the sn was blah blah." I compare it with my data base to see if it fits with what we know now.

Wyss: Were the Cobra 289s made in England for sale in the UK and on the Continent sold as Cobras or as AC 289s?

Scudder: A.C. advertised the leaf-spring cars in Europe as Cobras. It was advantageous to do so, since the Cobras had achieved an enviable competition record at events in Europe as well as the U.S.

Wyss: Where the AC 289 , coil spring, 427 body cars, sold as Cobras or only as AC 289s?

Scudder: When they were building the coil spring cars using the 427 chassis and bodywork in conjunction with the 2890 engine, they advertised them as the “289 Sports.” I believe they wanted to differentiate between the cars that Shelby was building in the U.S. with the 427 engine, which were available through Ford Advanced Vehicles (the shop in the UK building Ford’s GT40s—Ed.) and the cars AC was making for the European market with the smaller engine. There was also an issue of price—A.C.’s name was essentially forgotten withen the 427 cars were introduced as the “Shelby Cobra 427” . So, having their own car available in Europe, badged as an “:AC” rather than a Cobra, kept their name in front of the sports-car-buying public. “

Wyss: What's your best estimate on how many of the 26 AC 289s have been converted to 427 Cobras so far?

Scudder: One was sold to the U.S., less an engine, when new and was immediately given a 427 engine. Since then, an additional seven that we know of have been so modified, usually accompanied by wider, wheels, side pipes, roll bar and other Comp options.

Wyss: What is the deadline?

Scudder: Right now we are looking at 6/07. That month I will have to come to my final conclusions.

Wyss: What e-mail should they write you at?



Wyss: Is there any other documentation you would like?

Scudder: So long as you asked, I'd love to have a copy of the original purchase agreement with the car's serial number and license plate, copy of bill of sale, anything with the engine number recorded, a picture of the car when you were familiar with it --please send any pictures on a disc rather than send any valuable original picture which I don't want to be responsible for.

Wyss: What will the book with the CSX2000 and CSX3000 cars sell for?

Scudder: $175.00

Wyss: This is a silly question, but why are you doing this?

Scudder (deep sigh) Well, I started keeping notes on Cobras over 30 years ago, and have been the club’s registrar since ’78. I am a detail-oriented type of person. Now it’s a point of pride to keep up the Register. There's 998 cars to keep track of and as they get more and more valuable, and as more replicas enter the market, it is more important than ever to accurately record the facts on each and every historic Cobra.

Wyss: We thank you for your efforts. If it was me living in LaJolla, I'd spend more time down at LaJolla cove....

Scudder: Fortunately, I am not married to my computer. I do have a life beyond the Cobra fascination and get to spend plenty of time enjoying this beautiful part of the world…

The Author: Wallace Wyss is the author of SHELBY The Man The Cars The Legend

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