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1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe preserved by Library of Congress

Sports car is first auto recognized as an American treasure.

By Perry Stern Jan 23, 2014 8:02AM

Shelby Daytona Coupe Prototype - HVA, Michael Furman PhotographyThere are more than 40,000 historic buildings, monuments and land areas documented in the Library of Congress as being significant to the history of the United States, and now, a car has joined their ranks. The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (serial number CSX2287) has become the first automobile to be recorded under the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation.

 

With automobiles playing such a large part in American history, one wonders why it’s taken this long to recognize the significance of the car. According to Mark Gessler, President of the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA).


“It has been nearly 120 years since the first automobiles were produced in the U.S. During that time, we have implemented national programs to recognize our historic buildings, airplanes, spacecraft and vessels but not our historic automobiles. Through our work, we hope to celebrate the contribution of the industry’s pioneers, the vehicles they produced and the preservation efforts necessary to ensure future generations appreciate the unique roll of the automobile in shaping America.”

 

The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe may not be the most significant car in American history, and Gessler told us that there would be others honored as well, but the HVA felt the Cobra was deserving of being the first automobile honoree.

 

The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2287) was the first of six Daytona Coupes produced. More than 50 years old, it was built in January 1964 by Shelby American, Inc. in Los Angeles. Designed by Peter Brock, the Daytona Coupe enabled the Shelby American Cobra race team to win the International Manufacturer’s GT Championship in 1965. This was the first time an American manufacturer had won an international race series.

 

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is impressive even by today’s standards. The Ford 289 cubic inch V8 engine with four Weber 48 mm IDM downdraft carburetors puts out an estimated 375 horsepower. Power moves through a four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with transverse leaf springs and four-wheel disc brakes. Top speed is in excess of 180 mph.


As with any National Historic Landmark, the documentation process for the Cobra includes a fully referenced narrative and description of the vehicle; technical drawings of important elements of the vehicle; and detailed photographs and film negatives for permanent archival in the Library of Congress.

 

“Having my Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe design recognized as the very first car to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor and the thrill of a lifetime,” said Brock.

 

While the documentation of the Cobra will be on record at the Library of Congress, the car itself can be seen at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pa. The Simeone museum is considered to house one of the most important collections of racing sports cars in the world.


2Comments
Jan 24, 2014 4:44AM
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"The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe may not be the most significant car in American history, and Gessler told us that there would be others honored as well.." oh, okay, good... cause there's that whole Model T thing.  "...but the HVA felt the Cobra was deserving of being the first automobile honoree" oh, okay, well... maybe we should revisit that whole Model T thing.  
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