I rode in a Shelby Cobra once. A real one, a much-loved 289 owned by a collector acquaintance in Milwaukee. It was interesting, life-changing, happy, sad, noisy, excellent. I came away thrilled -- the car was everything I expected it to be, a rolling testament to all things loud and awesome -- but also a bit disappointed. I am not independently wealthy. The average Cobra costs well into six figures. I will not own one any time soon. Sad.
Small problem, I admit. In other news, I am too ordinary to own a host of other fabulous things: Gulfstreams, spaceships, Monaco apartments, bottles of brown liquor that cost as much as a new Honda. This should not be a surprise; I write for a living, and few writers live high and fat. I signed up for this. But occasionally, stuff comes along that makes it hurt.
On that note, I give you this
: a parking lot full of Cobras, assembled in Pomona, Calif., to celebrate the model's 50th anniversary. There are a few pictures below, but Autoblog has more here
. So good. So painful.
There are a handful of notes to make here. First, it should be said that Cobras are unique among wildly expensive supercars -- or classics, or sports cars, or muscle cars, etc. -- in that a large proportion of their owners believe they are best when driven. The world is filled with a lot of garage-queen original Shelby Cobras, but it is also filled with a lot of Cobras getting the snot driven out of them. Which is excellent. Rock on, gentlemen.
Second, the man who gave me a ride in his Cobra is none other than Colin Comer
, the guy who wrote this
. I will cut to the chase and give you the Official Ringing Endorsement: That book (do you need another link? Have one!
) is the best car book I've read this year. It's wonderfully assembled and passionately written, and it takes a refreshingly new angle on a much-discussed subject. Buy it. (Disclosure: I receive no financial benefit from sales of this book.) In addition to documenting the history and personalities behind one of America's most wonderful automobiles, it's just plain fun to flip through.
Third, that reunion happened at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona. It was put on by the Team Shelby Pacific Coast Division. There will doubtless be other such celebrations this year, given that 50th anniversaries come around only once. Good stuff. Keep an eye out.
And finally, last but not least, I give you a few sentences on what it's like to ride in an original 289 Cobra: The car is delicate but brutal, meaty but thin, loud but not overdone. Patina helps; if you get a chance to ride in an original one (remember, replicas abound
), try to find one that hasn't been restored. Every replica you've ever seen -- including the "continuation" cars made by Carroll Shelby himself -- is missing that indefinable 1960s something,
you get from an original car.
What's that? You want more pictures of Shelby and his cars? Of course you do. Here. I leave you with the man himself. These pictures make my gut tingle. To borrow a line from the great Ed Bruce
, mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be writers. Those Cobras aren't going to buy themselves, you know.