Among Carroll Shelby’s scores of innovations was his pioneering use of product placement to promote the Shelby brand. The introduction of the Shelby Cobra was closely followed by a flood of appearances by the cars in apparently every possible popular medium, from the Rip Chords’ hit record, “Hey Little Cobra” to Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” to magazines and newspapers across the country.
The Cobra’s seeming ubiquity was a bit of an illusion driven by the almost boundless energy Shelby invested in promoting his new creation, employing steady media exposure to establish the car as an American cultural icon. Current research indicates that CSX 2096 is one of a small handful of cars used for such PR purposes as the September 1963 Motor Trend road test and the August 1963 Playboy cover shoot that made the Cobra one of the very few cars ever to appear on the cover of Hef’s magazine.
Known to collectors as the Shelby Demonstrator, this 1963 Cobra was invoiced from AC Cars to Shelby on February 20, 1963, retailed to Ford executive Jacques Passino on August 30, then reverse invoiced to Shelby a month later on September 30. It was used by Shelby as a demonstrator for a total of fifteen months, after which it was sold to Frank and Douglas Loundes of Pasadena, CA on April 15, 1964. Factory equipped with the “Class A” accessory group that included chromed 5.5-inch wire wheels with “AC” knock-offs, a dash-mounted rear-view mirror, wind wings, chromed bumperettes and a quick-fill fuel cap, it also incorporated dual four-barrels, Whitewall tires, a luggage rack and optional seat belts.
The second owner, also a Californian, sold the car to a British dealer in 1972, but it returned to the U.S. in the winter of 1978 when it was purchased by Art Mohr of Michigan. Mohr had the color changed from Blue back to its original Red while the engine was rebuilt by Total Performance of Mount Clemens, MI. After several years of enjoyment, Mohr put the car on display at the Auburn-Cord-Deusenberg Museum, which sold it to Jerry Miller of Nashville, IN in 1982. The car then appeared at several SAAC events, winning second place in the Cobra Concours division at SAAC 10 and first in SAAC 11. It has also appeared several times in The Shelby American.
In 1992 owner David Painter of Evansville, IN delivered CSX2096 to Collector’s Choice of Dane, WI for a complete mechanical restoration. Painter has carefully preserved the car since then and today it remains an excellent example of an early production Cobra with an interesting history.
– The Shelby Demonstrator
– Invoiced from AC to Shelby on Feb. 20, 1963
– Retailed to Jacques Passino of FoMoCo on Sept. 30, 1963
– Retail invoice reversed by Shelby credit memo one month later
– Kept by Shelby as a demo for 15 months
– Finished with Group A accessories
– Chrome knock-off wheels
– Early Flathead Cobra emblems
– Retains early production shifter knob
– Documented in the Shelby Registry
– Copies of AC Invoice to Shelby American and Shelby American Retail Invoices
– Featured on Dennis Gage’s My Classic Car as a good example of an early 289 Cobra
– 2nd Place Concours SAAC 10
– 1st Place Concours SAAC 11
– Current owner traded for this car in 1992