Only six models of the iconic Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe were ever made, with one fetching a staggering $7.25 million at auction.
Anyone who was fortunate enough to be around during the muscle car mania that took the 1960s by storm was lucky indeed. For the rest of us, we just have to take to the internet to live vicariously through tales of rubber and road.
One of these fabled tales isn’t a fable at all – legendary, but not a legend. The story of the 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is factual, even though it feels like a Hollywood script.
The 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe isn’t a car you can just scoop up secondhand off of the classifieds. No, with how iconic and rare this car is, even getting a glimpse of one may be more difficult than you’d assume.
After learning more about the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, you’ll be even more in love with this race car rarity – for better or worse.
Here are 10 things you may not have known about the elusive 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – facts only real gearheads know, and facts destined to make this sports car even more desirable.
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How rare is rare? Well, only six 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes were ever made.
The Shelby Cobra Daytona's life purpose was to get put through its paces in demanding race environments. With only six made, they have passed hands just a few times – with the lowest sale price known at $4.4 million. But there may still be a chance for you to get your hands on one for the price of a new entry-level car – stay tuned.
The Shelby Cobra came into existence to compete directly with the Ferrari 250 GTO.
In 1964, the Cobra Daytona Coupe placed second in the GT III class at the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. In 1965, Carroll Shelby became the first American constructor to snag a title in the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe had certainly performed its duty to show off in the face of a ferocious Ferrari.
The legendary Carroll Shelby tapped employee Pete Brock to design the Cobra Daytona's aerodynamic bodywork.
Pete Brock stripped down his design by placing a seat and steering wheel in an approximate location of where he felt it should sit. Then he had race driver Ken Miles sit in as the test subject. Brock used scrap wood and tape, creating what would be the windshield and the first component of the car. He used wooden outlines to guide the design and hand-made the aluminum bodywork for chassis #CSX2287. Brock based the aerodynamics of the style on a German race car design from the late 1930s.
The very first chassis model, #CSX2287, was entirely produced in Venice, California at the Shelby American race shop. The other five subsequent models took to Italy for their production.
The American-made Shelby Cobra Daytona disappeared without a trace in the mid-1970s. It later turned up in a storage unit in 2001 as part of a legal estate matter.
A fierce, competitive rivalry pitted the 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe against the Ferrari 250 GTO.
The prior design by Shelby with the AC Cobra fell short at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with the Mulsanne Straight exposing its weakness. The open-top design of the AC Cobra meant that the drag created would slow the car down by 10 seconds per lap. Shelby then put the focus on the aerodynamics of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe to close the gap between it and the 250 GTO.
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The 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe used Ford’s 289 V8 engine with four Weber two barrel carburetors. The result was 385 horsepower to take it up a notch compared to the Ferrari’s 296 horsepower 250 GTO. The 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe could reach 60 seconds in 4 seconds flat, while the 250 GTO took 5.4 seconds.
The six Shelby Coupes were specifically designed for racing use, with most of them having placed well or winning races like the GT III class for the 1965 International Championship for GT Manufacturers. The Cobra Daytona Coupe was at the top of the leaderboards, and elbowed out much of the competition in 1964 and 1965.
On August 15, 2009, chassis #CSX2601 sold for $7.25 million at an auction run by Mecum in Monterey, California. This exact chassis had a starring role in the 1965 movie Red Line 7000, which was about young stock car drivers and included actual race scenes and crashes.
The original #CSX2287 chassis is in its untouched state, preserved in its greatness. If you want to see the legendary car for yourself, all you need to do is take a trip to Philadelphia and head to the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. This first and original chassis is the American built chassis, and is the same one that went missing for 30 years. This car became the very first vehicle to become an addition to the Historic Vehicle Association's National Historic Vehicle Register in the US.
Fear not, if you’ve dreamed of owning your very own 1964 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe – there are options for reproductions and replicas.
Even used versions of the above can occasionally pop up for sale from $40,000 up to $130,000. If you’re looking for a specific brand to add to your wishlist, there’s Factory Five. Their kit starts at $17,990 for the base kit and $22,990 for the complete kit – all you need is a 1987-1993 Mustang GT donor car.
Sources: Classic, Heacock Classic
Sienna is a writer and photographer with a penchant for all things relating to cars. When Sienna was younger, she dreamed of being a rally car driver (look out, WRC!), and her dream car is a vintage Datsun 240z. She loves hatchbacks, old Top Gear reruns, and has only ever owned cars with a manual transmission.

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