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It’s the early 1960s and just outside of the sleepy little hamlet of Terlingua Texas…legendary Carroll Shelby, (chicken farmer, brilliant race driver, philanthropist, and automotive entrepreneur) just closed a fabled contract with his buddy Lee Iacocca over at Ford. The Shelby America-Ford collaboration would prove to be one of the most iconic unions in automotive history. The endearing story of the Shelby Cobra and all of its iterations is well known.

Less known is the Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra.

In 1963 Shelby entered the USRRC Pro Sports Car Championship. Concluding his front engined Cobras could not win against the new rear engine race cars, Shelby decided to build the Type 61.

An American V8 in a mid-engine sport prototype wasn’t new in 1963…however, the King Cobra was one of the first to utilize this configuration. Enter…legendary race driver John Cooper who also was co-founder of the Cooper Car Company in Surrey U.K. After being beat by Coopers mid-engined cars…Shelby bought two Cooper Monaco chassis’s that had been specifically modified and fortified to handle the V8 engine…he also brought on John Cooper to assist with his new race car creation. Shelby dropped finely tuned Ford V8s, plus stunning new ultra low slung and sleek racing bodies on the two chassis’.

Wicked and fast as hell…the cars could barely handle the power the rear wheels were delivering, but Shelby continually tweaked and modified to increase speed. The car pictured is capable of 400hp at 7,000rpm, but it also only weighed approximately 1300lbs…a truly terrifying and killer combination for a race car. Powered by a 289cid OHV V8 with 4 Weber carburetors, it features a 5 speed ZF manual transaxle, 4 wheel independent suspension with coil springs over tubular shock absorbers, and 4 wheel disc brakes. Displacement= 4736 cc :289.0 cu in : 4.7 L.

It’s reported that a total of 6 cars were built. The car pictured is wrapped in ‘Viking Blue’ and the only remaining original King Cobra, and it recently sold for $1.65million. The Shelby legacy has eternally left a nice deep gouge in the automotive archives and continues to be replicated by various companies globally.

 

 

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