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Willment Cobra - registration number 39 PH


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#1 Gary C

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 22:18

lads, I have this photo in my collection. I THINK it was taken at Silverstone, but I've no idea on the date or driver, can anyone help?


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#2 Gary C

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 22:24

................looks to me like mid-60's, judging by the fashions...

#3 hinnershitz

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 23:15

That's the Cobra entered by Team Willment in 1964. Won the GT race at the British GP meeting with #32, driven by Jack Sears (and no registration on the car), and I have a photo from the '64 Tourist Trophy, #23 with "39PH" on a slightly narrower registration plate and again Sears at the wheel.

But I can't identify the track or meeting of your picture.

#4 nikbj68

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 08:27

Hehehe.... Rapid response team here.

Great pic Gary, got any more of that Cobra???
It`s at Aintree, April 1964. Jack Sears started from 2nd place, but ended up 3rd behind Jim Clark in a Lotus 30.
The Cobra didn`t look like that for long, with slightly flared rear wheelarches. After Le Mans, the Willment team upgraded from Dunlop alloy(Jag-style) wheels to Halibrands, hence the extended lip from the standard shape, but not long after this race, at the Nurburgring, Frank Gardner crashed and the rear bodywork was extended during the repair to the more curvaceous shape it still bears today.
The repairs obviously suited the Cobra, as Jack Sears drove the Ilford Trophy Race a couple of weeks later at Brands Hatch (the famous 'black flag' race), beating Jackie Stewart in a Lightweight E-type, despite having to take a 'stop/go' penalty for starting in the wrong position on the grid!

hinnershitz, can you post your pics here, or possibly email them to me? (Personal use only!)
I`m particularly keen to find pics from `67 to `69, when the Cobra didn`t have the Willment stripes (except on the hardtop), had registration no. GER 1 and was owned/raced by my Dad, so get searching the archives please!!!!
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Cheers, Nik.

#5 bradbury west

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 12:28

Being accustomed to Cobras racing in modern "historic spec", I am always intrigued to see the cars in period running on such narrow rims and tyres, and narrow off-sets, and with no wildly flared arches. Something must be wrong surely? You'll be saying next that the engine only produced about 360/385bhp in period, and that on a good, fresh unit...........................

Anyone got any period spec sheets??

Roger Lund

PS Sears at Brands after the sto-go was mighty.

#6 hipperson

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 20:34

This car recently went to auction at an estimate of £7/800,000.
Went to £625,000..did not sell and then went to negotiation.
I believe the Corner family eventually got it.

#7 ray b

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 20:43

first cars used 260 ci motors rated about 260 hp
then 289ci with 4barrel carb rated 271 to 300 hp
later racers used webbers to get more power

the later cars were totaly redone to fit the big blocks
427ci and got the flares and bigger wheels +tyres



#8 guru_1071

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 21:17

a guy i know races the ex wilmet lotus r26 in the same race series as me - a beautifully prepared car!

i also had the pleasure to meet jack sears at snetterton this year, where he gave a really nice inpromtue speech about his time at wilmet racing cars such as the cobra, and how he considered that 'those where the days' and how much he had enjoyed the HGTCC racing as the drivers (i.e us!) where happy to park up and help each other, and be approachable by the public, and generally have a laugh together. he was fairly dismissive of the attiude of many top drivers today (in the big series) who as he said 'finish the race, get out the car, anonomous in their full face helmet, and head straight for the huge motorhome, never to be seen again'

he had a really good day out and was a top bloke :clap:

#9 Alan Cox

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 22:17

A couple of shots of "Gentleman" Jack in the very car, reunited with it at the Christies' Silverstone Festival 1991 when it was owned, I believe, by Nigel Hulme. Driver in the second pic is, of course, Mr Shelby.

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Sorry they don't show more of the car.

#10 sterling49

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 22:22

In the early 60's these were so exciting to watch.....saw Jack driving this car often,including the famed Ilford race..........I used to wait for the London Country bus and a guy from the next avenue used to drive to work in his brand new black Cobra...as he passed us the ground vibrated......intoxicating for a petrolhead, let alone a 12 year old!!! :up:

#11 bradbury west

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 22:37

Alan, you must have been standing next to me. The chap next to Jack in pic 1 is Martin Chisholm, IIRC, before he branched out on his own. Will try to remember to look out my shots.

Roger Lund.

#12 Ted Walker

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 07:27

Nik. Did your Dad buy it direct from Willments ???? Why had the car lost its stripes across the front but still have them on the hardtop.

#13 Hse289

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:13

Alan , nice shots. I have met Jack Sears twice, what a gentleman. Too young to have seen him race though. Paul

#14 nikbj68

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:37

Originally posted by bradbury west
Being accustomed to Cobras racing in modern "historic spec", I am always intrigued to see the cars in period running on such narrow rims and tyres, and narrow off-sets, and with no wildly flared arches. Something must be wrong surely? You'll be saying next that the engine only produced about 360/385bhp in period, and that on a good, fresh unit...........................

Anyone got any period spec sheets??

Roger Lund

PS Sears at Brands after the sto-go was mighty.


I`d hardly say that the Cobra ran on narrow rims, 7"x15" front, 9"x15" rear, sorry, can`t recall exact tyre sizes, but my Dad still has a rear boot in his garage!
Running on a budget, my dad couldn`t afford the 'racing specials' that Willment used, and bought some surplus F1 tyres from ( I think) Brabham, when they changed wheel sizes. Bad move, he reckoned they were so hard that they cost him 4 seconds a lap on the Silverstone Club circuit, but they did last him the whole time he raced the car!
He had the heads worked on by Bill Blydenstein and recalls a figure of around 380bhp, but no, I can`t lay hands on a dyno sheet!!!!

Nice pics of Sears & Shelby, there was another from the passenger side in the H&H auction catalogue, but it`s gone from the online version now.
I believe a lot of chinese whispers scuppered the auction sale, but the new owner, with much assistance from Nigel Hulme, is building up an accurate (and hopefully indisputable!) history of 39PH with first-hand testimony from many of those involved with the Cobra through it`s Glory days.

#15 nikbj68

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:56

Originally posted by Ted Walker
Nik. Did your Dad buy it direct from Willments ???? Why had the car lost its stripes across the front but still have them on the hardtop.


Ted, my Dad bought the Cobra, sans top, from a company called "D&A Shells & Chassis", who had had it sat in the back of their workshop under a tarpaulin for a year, awaiting time to get round to doing something with it, but the hardtop came directly from Willment, who were very close to chucking it out! It also came to my dad unregistered, as Willment had kept the 39PH reg for their Coupé, which led in part to some of the speculation over the originality of the Cobra, but as I mentioned, is hopefully now all cleared up.

Anything in the Ferret archives from `67-`69 ProdSports?
Cheers, Nik.
p.s. Hi Paul, it`s a bugger, this born-too-late life, eh?!

#16 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:14

Originally posted by hipperson
This car recently went to auction at an estimate of £7/800,000.
Went to £625,000..did not sell and then went to negotiation.
I believe the Corner family eventually got it.

Yes, Nigel owns it now.

#17 hipperson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 10:44

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I took this snap in 1974 at Brighton Speed trials. The Cobra up against my 275/GTB and beat me!

I had the opportunity in April to visit Mr Sears at his Norfolk mansion to get signed some charity auction memorabilia.
What started as..'I can only give you 5 minutes as I have a speech to write as chairman of the FOC......' turned in to a wonderful 2 hour trawl through his illustrious career.

PS..in the photo is that the Yorkshire Ripper in the background ?

#18 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 11:03

At this year's British GP I showed Jackie Stewart a photo of the montage painting that I did for Jack in 1991. In the painting 39PH is shown infront of JYS (in the e-type) in that famous black flag race.
On seeing it Jackie said 'oh yes- the bugger blew me off!'
Jack found it very funny when I told him that later.

#19 hipperson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 11:29

Yes Andrew... I saw the montage hanging on his sitting room wall.

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#20 nikbj68

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 11:52

Originally posted by Andrew Kitson
At this year's British GP I showed Jackie Stewart a photo of the montage painting that I did for Jack in 1991. In the painting 39PH is shown infront of JYS (in the e-type) in that famous black flag race.
On seeing it Jackie said 'oh yes- the bugger blew me off!'
Jack found it very funny when I told him that later.


I`ll bet he did!
I really like that painting, "Ten of The Best" wasn`t it? If I was allowed wallspace for my choice of art..... :

MH, Did you have to stand in the driving seat of the ex-John Woolfe Cobra to take that photo of Mr. Sutcliffe & Cobra? :p Sorry you got beat. Not! btw, your "Making a young mans GT40 dream come true" has long been a favourite story of mine, Bravo.

#21 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 12:00

Originally posted by nikbj68


I`ll bet he did!
I really like that painting, "Ten of The Best" wasn`t it? If I was allowed wallspace for my choice of art..... :


Thankyou. It was 'Eight of the Best', a title that Jack and his late first wife Cicely came up with.

#22 Ted Walker

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 12:50

Nik. going back to your earlier post. A pal of mine owned the Willment Coupe back in the 70s. It wasnt registered with 39 PH when he had it. Also I notice that in the fiirst colour shot the car has different shaped doors.I bought an ex works Sebring Sprite from D&A Shells.

#23 hipperson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 13:52

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Gentleman Jack & me.
He was signing a great photo of his 330LMB which he shared with Mike Salmon ( he signed it too) at Le Mans in 1963.
They finished 5th.The running-in of the new car was carried out by Ronnie Hoare driving it up frm Maranello !
The photo was auctioned at my Charity weekend in May.
Our auctioners were Martin Donnelly and Brian Lister.
Between them they helped us raise £11,000 for the Little Havens Childrens Hospice in Southend.

Great people from a great era ?

#24 Nordic

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 15:34

39 PH

And here it is at Le Mans in 1978. Gets around a bit!

#25 hipperson

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 21:09

Posted Image

I took this snap at the Brands Historic in June

Both belong to Shaun Lynn. The Ford is Chassis 1025.
The Cobra I know not.
Willment colours but I believe John Whitmore raced the car at 2005 Revival and it was blue.

#26 Twin Window

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 21:16

Originally posted by hipperson

PS..in the photo is that the Yorkshire Ripper in the background ?

He does look like him, doesn't he... :eek:

Also, the bloke second-in from the left looks rather like Simon Taylor.


Between them they helped us raise £11,000 for the Little Havens Childrens Hospice in Southend.

Well done. :up:

#27 Peter Darley

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 21:52

Originally posted by hipperson
Posted Image

I took this snap at the Brands Historic in June

Both belong to Shaun Lynn. The Ford is Chassis 1025.
The Cobra I know not.
Willment colours but I believe John Whitmore raced the car at 2005 Revival and it was blue.


645 CGT (white/black stripes) was raced by Frank Sytner in this years Revival

#28 Alan Cox

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 17:26

As far as I am aware, Hipperson, Shaun Lynn's Cobra has always been in Willment colours since he has owned it.

#29 nikbj68

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 11:45

Shaun Lynn`s Cobra is CS2130 (no 'X', same as 39PH, due to them being RHD, not for eXport) and was the Le Mans 'T' car. It spent a lot of time in white with red stripes for Willment, but by the Goodwood TT it was red/white stripes & wearing 39PH`s hardtop & split bootlid. (I don`t think Sears ever raced with the hardtop.)
Frank Sytner`s Cobra is CSX2142, which did race at Le Mans in `63, but DNF`ed.
The number 39PH was retained by Willment for the Coupé to assist in international transportation and maybe other purposes, but I don`t think it was 'officially' registered as such, Nigel Hulme managed to revive the lapsed plate as it was last shown to have been registered on the Cobra.

Ted, well spotted re the doors, they were modified to FiA cutback style after the Nurburgring accident, when the rear arches were restyled. Was it your mate who registered the Willment Coop as 39 PE? Small world, you having bought a car from the same place as my Dad!
Anyone care to guess how much he paid for it, July `67 ???? :eek: AND then, what he sold it for in `73?(Incidentally, contrary to most reports, he sold it complete, running & repaired after the Crystal Palace bump that ended his racing career, due in no small part to the 2 small mouths he now had to feed....guilty, Moi? :| )

Congratulations on a fantastic effort for the Hospice, Mr.H. :clap: :clap:

Thanks for the pics, all. :up:

#30 Ted Walker

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 20:30

I think youve got the chassis No of 39PH wrong Nick,because ive just been re reading the H&H catalogue from when they auctioned the car earlier this year. The description was very long and detailed and they said the chassis No was CSX2131.As the information came from a previous long term owner and of course they will have checked the No stamped on the chassis it must be correct.

#31 nikbj68

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 11:24

Originally posted by Ted Walker
I think youve got the chassis No of 39PH wrong Nick,because ive just been re reading the H&H catalogue from when they auctioned the car earlier this year. The description was very long and detailed and they said the chassis No was CSX2131.As the information came from a previous long term owner and of course they will have checked the No stamped on the chassis it must be correct.


It`s one of those situations. :rotfl:
Sort of goes like this. Originally designated CS2131, the Cobra was 'owned' by Shelby American, but prepared & entered at Le Mans by AC. When it was transferred to Willment, the invoice was probably 'typoed' CSX, because 'that`s what Cobra chassis numbers were like'. Apart from the 'COB'(UK market) or 'COX'(Europe/R.o.t.W) prefixes, all Cobras were CSX, apart from CS2030(the original factory demonstrator), CS2130 & CS2131(All RHD).
This was another point which came back to throw doubts over the originality/authenticity of 39PH, and with the Chassis no. appearing as CSX2131 when Nigel Hulme re-registered the Cobra in `73/74, it would have been highly problematical to amend later. When it was just a really nice, fast car, it wasn`t a big deal, but now it is a £1/2million+ vehicle, all things change. :eek:

The H&H descritption is extensive, but not entirely accurate, and I know that Nigel Hulme is working VERY hard with Nigel Corner to make a 'cast in stone' correct history, which in addition to mainting the true history of a really great car, will restore his (& to some degree, my Dad`s)reputation which was unjustly defamed with suggestions that the car was less than he stated it to be. People often say to me "I bet you wish you still had it", but the best possible thing to happen to 39PH was it`s 30 years of cherishing in the Hulme stables. :D :D

#32 Ted Walker

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 15:08

Sorry Nick but I just dont get all this!!!!!.Yousay that the car was designated CS2131 by AC-then maybe referred to as CSX2131 on an invoice from Shelby to Willments at a later date when ownership was transferred to them and then re-registered by Hulme using the number CSX2131. If this is so then the AC factory would havestamped this No(CS 2131) on the chassis itself as well as the manufacurers identification plate.Whether an invoice from Shelbys incorrectly stated the chassis or an invoice,the correct would have also been recorded in the vehicles registration book so Willments could have been under no misapprehension. Now-although by 1973-4 ,when you say that the vehicle was re-registered,its registation book must have gone missing(hence the need for re-registration).In the case of a "lost log book" there was a standard process for doing this which involved applying for a replacement and quoting the relevent ID Nos (ie Reg No and Chassis No39PH and CS2131 in this case)The reg authority would then instruct the police to inspect the vehicle in order to verify that the stated details were correct.As the then owner Mr Hulme would have obviously taken this information from either the manufacturers plate,and or chassis stamping and this would have been verified by the police then how on earth did the car end up with the No CSX2131 if it was really CS2131 as you say ?????????. Another oddity that has just struck me is that if Willment retained the No 39PH to put on another vehicle,but not the coupe as we have already discussed in a previous post,thenit would have been on that vehicle and already spoken for-unless,that is,they had surrendered the registration book for havng supposedly scrapped the vehicle or something similar................................. You havnt convinced me Nick.- I still think its CSX2131 .

#33 nikbj68

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 16:23

Interesting stuff, Ted. I`m unfamiliar with the registration processes from back then, being a whippersnapper of only 38 years!
Dad purchased the Cobra described thus:
"Racing Cobra ex Jack Sears car (un reg. less log book) ex Willment car"

I know from discussions with Nigel Hulme that the number was not assigned to another vehicle, and as far as I know was only placed on the Coupé, so I can only assume that the logbook was surrendered after number was no longer required, it certainly never reached my dad.

Another thing that I`ll have to check when home is how AC stamped chassis`.
I believe they only stamped the number, and not the entire prefix in several places, but I have no answer for the other points you raise.

It is accepted by the ACOC that the 'X' found it`s way in by mistake, but as you make clear above... it shouldn`t have happened!
I knew it as CSX2131 from every magazine article I read & book I collected, until I first saw a list of the AC factory ledger, and then started digging. Like I mentioned before, it`s a messy business!

#34 nikbj68

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 19:01

Originally posted by nikbj68

....I know that Nigel Hulme is working VERY hard with Nigel Corner to make a 'cast in stone' correct history, which in addition to mainting the true history of a really great car, will restore his (& to some degree, my Dad`s)reputation which was unjustly defamed with suggestions that the car was less than he stated it to be....


I have just received a message from Nigel Corner, and whilst I will not divulge the content here, I`m pleased to know that a thorough history, verified by many people directly involved with 39PH on it`s journey from AC production line to current day will soon be made public, and should finally put a tin lid on the various rumours, mis-recollections and erroneous statements which have dogged the Cobra`s recent past.
p.s Mr Ferret, did you find any pics of The Cobra from my Dad`s racing days? :D
Nik.