This Is The 650-HP Daytona Coupe Carroll Shelby Always Wanted

Classic Cars / 4 Comments

This one-off is something truly special.

If you want something with a Shelby badge on it directly from the Ford factory, your options these days are not plentiful. The Shelby GT350 variant of the Mustang is long gone, so you can only go for the Mustang Shelby GT500 (not that this is a bad thing). But what if you don't want something from the Ford factory? What if you don't want something new-school with loads of tech? What if you want something that pays tribute to the vision of Carroll Shelby who founded the company in the first place?

That's where Shelby American's "Cammer Cobra" concept comes in, and boy is it special. First promised in 2017, we were told that six examples would be made. Times have changed, and Shelby will use this concept to gauge interest, but the main thing is that Carroll's dream is coming to life. What was that dream, exactly? Read on.

Shelby American
Shelby American

To fully appreciate this car and what it stands for, we need a bit of backstory. "Carroll Shelby wanted to fit a massive Ford big block engine into a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe for Le Mans in 1964," said Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American. "While many know that a one-off car was built with a 427 'wedge' Ford engine, that was not Carroll Shelby's initial vision. He hoped to pair the sleek aerodynamics of the Peter Brock-designed body with the incredibly powerful aluminum single overhead cam [SOHC] version of the FE motor. Since it was impossible to obtain one of those rare engines in time for the race, Shelby American installed the NASCAR version. Our concept car was built to realize Carroll's initial Cammer vision."

Often referred to as "Ford's greatest engine", the SOHC V8 was based on Ford's 427 cubic inch side-oiler block and "was intended to be Ford's two-valve, single-overhead-cam, high-rpm answer to Chrysler's 426 HEMI for NASCAR in 1964."

Shelby American
Shelby American
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The Ford 427 Cammer produced an astonishing 616 horsepower with a single four-barrel carburetor and a ridiculous 657 hp with the dual four-barrel setup, making it one of the most powerful Detroit engines of its day. But glory at Le Mans was not in the cards. Carroll Shelby got a fabricator to lengthen the chassis of one of the Daytona Coupes, with the ultimate goal of creating a secret weapon for Le Mans, but the required SOHC motor could not be sourced in time. Despite this, the Daytona won its class at Le Mans in 1964. But the dream was still not realized.

To that end, Shelby American has created the version of the Daytona that should have been, following the same specs as the modified racer that didn't make it to Le Mans. Thus, it has a three-inch lengthened chassis with a modified hood while the 650hp engine is mated to a period-correct four-speed manual. The car was assigned Shelby serial number #CSX2623 and will be documented in the official Shelby Registry. Answering the question of 'what if?' has never looked so cool.

World Wide Auctioneers
World Wide Auctioneers
World Wide Auctioneers
World Wide Auctioneers

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