I know this is a bad thing to say, but here goes: For this review I’m tossing the small amount of journalistic credibility I possess out the window. Behind the couch, under the bus — wherever, it’s gone. Bye-bye. Why? Years ago I read an article (don’t recall the publication) that described Bryant Gumbel’s interview with Pope John Paul the Deuce. Gumbel, a life long Catholic, was all set and prepared to do a serious, hard-hitting sit down with his Holiness. However, upon meeting the Holy Father, Gumbel instantly fell to his knees, produced pictures of his children and begged the Pope to bless them. So yeah, that was me last week when I got to drive two Superformance cars — the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe and GT40 MK1. I’m not even going to mention that the Coupe used to belong to none other than Carroll Shelby.
Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
Don’t Call it a Brock Coupe
Though initially that was going to be the name. Due to the Coupe being a licensed Carroll Shelby product Superformance went with the old school moniker of Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. Fine by me — but just admit that “Brock Coupe” does have a certain ring to it. But, as the kids say, whatevs. You could call the damn thing Molly and in my book it would still be one of the five most desirable cars ever made. If you find yourself asking why, allow me to give you the briefest of history lessons.
In 1961 Carroll Shelby convinced Lee Iacocca (then with Ford) to let him have access to a new aluminum truck engine being built in Canada. His plan was to stuff the engine into a British roadster then called the AC Ace. After a lot of hammering the car worked out and a bonafide legend was born. Shelby called it the AC Cobra. The British car with the Canadian heart simply dominated American races. Sebring, Daytona — you name it Carroll and his Cobra won it. But in Europe? Not so much. The lightweight but topless roadsters had lousy aerodynamics and simply couldn’t hit high enough speeds on the straights. Particularly the infamous Mulsane Straight at Le Mans. And yeah, it’s ironic that an American car could kick snot out of the competition in the curves, but then lose it when the road fails to wind. What to do?
Enter the Daytona Coupe. Shelby knew he needed a closed cockpit car if he was going to challenge Ferrari at Le Mans. The 250 GTOs were hitting 180 mph. Shelby put 23-year-old Pete Brock in charge of the Coupe’s design. Shelby didn’t trust Brock’s results. He brought in an aerodynamics specialist that agreed — Brock’s odd-looking Kammback body wouldn’t work. Miraculously, Shelby went with his boy Brock and this now classic design. The results? Total domination. The new Coupe simply ran away from the field at Daytona (before being hobbled by busted differential). So much so that Shelby named it the Daytona. And when he brought his new Coupes to France in 1964, they hit 196 mph on the Mulsanne straight, humiliating Ferrari at Le Mans by finishing first in class and fourth overall. The Daytona Coupes achieved such complete supremacy that Enzo intrigued to get the 1964 Monza race cancelled thereby securing Ferrari’s overall season victory.
And Superformance tossed me the keys!
Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe