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Big changes with the Shelby King Cobra Cooper-Fords


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#1 chuckbrandt

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 03:06

As you may know, I have been assisting with the restoration of one of the Shelby Cooper-Fords, the one owned by Fred Phillips. We had been working under the assumption that he has the Bob Bondurant car CM/5/64. This assumption was based on a few key components that tied the car to Bondurant and a limited set of period photographs. The team at Legendary Motorcar have been building a new body for the car and needed me to research details of the inner fenders and brake ducts built into the bodywork. To get the details we needed I made a trip to the Benson Ford Research Center at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The Henry Ford recently acquired the entire Dave Friedman photo collection, nearly 200,000 images and a large body of documents.

I was about 100 photos into my search of the two races for the Bondurant car when I found what we have been calling the "Oh Crap" photo. It was a photo of the Parnelli Jones car at Laguna Seca, seen from behind with the rear bodywork removed. What I saw immediately was a front perforated cross member above the transaxle which turns out to be unique to the Parnelli Jones car and very much present on Fred's frame. A subsequent photo was found of Shelby Team Members stripping the Parnelli Jones car down to the frame after the wreck and fire at Laguna Seca. This photo showed several more features that are unique to Fred's frame. It also showed very little damage was sustained in the crash and fire, it was up on its wheels and looks pretty straight.

At this point I was convinced that Fred has the Parnelli Jones car and not the Bondurant car. The Parnelli Jones car has been claimed by another Cooper-Ford for the last 27 years, this car is now owned by Donn Vickrey of Carlsbad, CA. I immediately set to work to determine which car Donn really has and it turns out he definitely has the Bondurant car. I really have to credit both owners for their high level of integrity and desire for the truth to come out, after an initial and completely understandable brief period of freaking out.

The story with evidence is quite long and convoluted, I'll try to be brief with a readers digest version.

After the crash and fire which destroyed the bodywork on CM/6/64 (Parnelli Jones car) the bodywork from CM/5/64 (Bondurant) was transferred to the Parnelli Jones frame, and the car went to Lothar Motschenbacher for '65. The Parnelli Jones car came back to Shelby after the '65 season and was subsequently sold to Terry Kniss of Seattle, WA. Kniss sold the car to a couple of individuals in the Seattle area who put a McLaren Mk1 body on it. It was sold to a team from California who won a regional championship with it in 1970. It ws then sold to Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) and it appeared in a TV show called "Wheels". It went through a couple more owners and eventually ended up in Fred's hands in 2007.

The Bondurant car had an equally interesting history. At the end of '64 the Shelby organization was contacted by Ford Advanced Vehicles in England requesting a car for Roy Salvadori to drive in '65. The Shelby replied with some very key information, the gist of it was "Sure, you can have one of the Cooper-Fords, it has some new suspension modifications we think you will really like, and oh by the way it doesn't have a body, you should get one from Cooper". The car was shipped and a new body was fitted in England. Salvadori raced it 3 times early in '65 with limited success. The car then made its way back to Shelby where it was offered in the famous "Garage Sale" ads. Oscar Kovaleski purchased CM/5/64 and CM/4/64 in '66 and sold CM/5/64 to James Brown III who raced it in '67 and '68 in the SCCA, he was 4th in points in the Northeastern Region in '68. He sold it to Francis Larkin who has provided us with some great photos showing the suspension modifications that Shelby did which are unique to this car and present on Donn's car today. It went through several owners after that ending up in the hands of Barry Brown who restored it as the Parnelli Jones car in '85. It is unknown why Brown restored it as the Parnelli Jones car because several previous owners knew it was the Bondurant car.

The evidence gathered to date is I believe undeniably conclusive. As the registrar for these cars with SAAC I have amended their entries in the registry and will include them in the next printing of the big book. Donn Vickrey has put #96 on his car and had Bob Bondurant sit in it at a recent event. We just want to use every avenue we can think of to get the word out about the change. We are all very fortunate that the cars really are "sister" cars from a bodywork perspective, the changes required to go from the Bondurant car to the Parnelli Jones car are subtle and can be accomplished fairly easily at this stage of development.

Chuck

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Edited by chuckbrandt, 18 June 2012 - 19:29.


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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 05:15

I love it when things like this happen. Well done Chuck :up:

We had been working under the assumption that he has the Bob Bondurant car CM/5/64. This assumption was based on a few key components that tied the car to Bondurant and a limited set of period photographs.

Is it possible that Bondurant raced the Parnelli car once or twice?


#3 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 09:07

Very very interesting ! Thanks.

#4 Allen Brown

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 15:30

Great work Chuck.

#5 chuckbrandt

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 18:04

Someone pointed out that I should be thanking everyone who contributed to these conclusions, it certainly wasn't all done by me and I do not want to imply that is the case.

Bob Lee was a huge help finding a number of ads pertaining to the cars in Autoweek, his constant quest for the truth is always an inspiration.
Former Crew Chief Bob Habermehl was a huge help too.
Jim Wallace who helped restore the Bondurant car in the 80s was a big help as well.
Oscar Kovaleski and Jack Deren were a wealth of information and parts.
Steve Brown, son of James Brown was a big help, as was Francis Larkin
Donn Vickrey took the research into the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association
Lothar Motschenbacher, Bob Bondurant, Frank Lance, Parnelli Jones all contributed a great deal.
Dave Friedman took the photos that proved everything in the end of the day.
Fred Phillips deserves a huge debt of thanks for funding my efforts.
Noel Rogers, the previous owner who took great care of the car and tried for 20 years to identify it.

I'm sure I have forgotten many people, I apologize for that.

Chuck

Edited by chuckbrandt, 18 June 2012 - 19:30.


#6 chuckbrandt

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 18:07

I love it when things like this happen. Well done Chuck :up:


Is it possible that Bondurant raced the Parnelli car once or twice?

I don't think so, both cars were crewed by specific people assigned to specific drivers and I think all photos showing both guys in their respective cars are consistent with them driving their own car. These drivers and cars only had 2 races for Shelby, Riverside and Laguna Seca both in october of '64.

The key piece that led us to believe Fred had the Bondurant car was a unique folded over oil cooler that was fitted to his car at Laguna Seca (the front end got damaged and replaced at Riverside). I know that is kind of thin but it was all we had and all we expected to ever find. The Dave Friedman collection is a total game changer for a lot of cars I am sure. It is so sad that it wasn't available sooner. The really interesting thing about the oil cooler is that it went with the bondurant car to England and was obviously used on the Salvadori version. It must have gotten transferred to the Parnelli Jones car while it was at Shelby's between Motschenbacher and Kniss.

Chuck

Edited by chuckbrandt, 17 June 2012 - 18:12.


#7 David McKinney

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 18:19

Just a thought :)

#8 mac miller

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:18

SO???? Didn't Dave MacDonald drive one of these cars on occasion??? What car did Dave drive???


mac miller in INDY

#9 chuckbrandt

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:51

SO???? Didn't Dave MacDonald drive one of these cars on occasion??? What car did Dave drive???


mac miller in INDY


Yes Dave is credited with getting Shelby to buy the first two cars, for him and Holbert. Dave drove CM/1/63 through the '63 season. He then switched over to driving CM/1/64 for Craig Lang (The Lang Cooper) and CM/1/63 was sold to Charlie Cox.
Dave had quite a few drives in CM/1/63 winning both Riverside and Laguna Seca in '63.

Chuck

#10 D-Type

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 20:30

~ I really have to credit both owners for their high level of integrity and desire for the truth to come out, after an initial and completely understandable brief period of freaking out.

~

In some ways, this is the most important part of the story

#11 HistoricMustang

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 21:52

Hopefully not off topic and perhaps a sift through these (some are new) will add some light.

http://www.davemacdo...kingcobraSD.htm

Henry :wave:

#12 Wouter Melissen

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 08:28

So this is CM/5/64?

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#13 piloto26

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 21:52

So this is CM/5/64?

Posted Image


Yes, that's me in 5/64 with what looks like a brake bias or driver problem. Actually it was a tire compound problem. We have really struggled to find matching sets of tires that comply with HMSA's allowed selection of tires. In this photo I was running front tires of unknown age and almost zero grip. We found a better combination later in the weekend, which is a good thing because two cars got together just ahead of me in the qualifying race and I had to brake and turn (not an ideal combination) to avoid the pile up and find the one open spot left in the area (unfortunately the gravel pit).

FWIW, the good news is that there was no damage and I was able to run the main event. I had a blast and got some much needed seat time in 5-64. Next outing is Coronado in three weeks. Stop by and say hello if you are in the area!

Yours in speed.