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A relative few auto aficionados have

experienced the ownership of an original

1960’s Cobra. Those who have had the ex-

perience, and who have remained car

lovers thereafter, now recognize that they

were, if not still are, the custodian of an au-

tomotive icon. I became the custodian of

CSX2306 in late spring of 1971 just after

graduating from medical school. It was my

sole mode of transportation. I sold my ‘69

Fiat 124 Sport Coupe and borrowed money

from my youngest brother’s college savings

account to raise the $4,950 it took to wrest

the leaf spring car from its owner, whose

wife had decreed that he had to choose be-

tween her and that rowdy silver beauty

with a red leather interior. She had suf-

fered through his ownership of two small

block Cobras and was ready for something

more “civilized.”

I had coveted Cobras since the early

1960s when I read about them in the car

magazines that had kept me sane while I

earned my B.S. at a small, academically

demanding men’s college in North Car-

olina. Frequenting Ford dealerships that

had both small block and big block cars

languishing in their showrooms, I sat in

those unsold, shopworn Cobras and imag-

ined roaring exhausts and the wind tear-

ing at my hair while I worked the clutch

and moved the stubby shifter through the

gears. I went to see the Cobra Caravan in

1965 at Young Ford in Charlotte and met

Carroll Shelby and Denise McCluggage as

they promoted the 427 Cobra and the

GT350. Alas, I could not qualify for a ride

around downtown with Denise as I had not

yet turned 21 – due to some insurance silli-

ness. Cobras were tired, outdated sports

cars by the time I acquired mine, but they

were then, and still are, a truly exhilarat-

ing automotive experience. However, only

if the driver is young in fact or at heart, not

to mention a bit masochistic, is a Cobra

suited for basic transportation.

The engine in my car had been slop-

pily transplanted from a B/Production rac-

ing Mustang. It was highly modified and

marginally streetable, but it made the de-

sired racket and it could take the car to

highly illegal speeds in the blink of an eye.

Sunoco 260 was relatively cheap in 1971

and at 7.5 mpg on a typical driving day,

that was a good thing. The transmission

would pop out of second gear from time to

time, but only on deceleration, requiring a

hand on the shifter when two hands on the

wheel might have been preferable. I had to

give up wearing contact lenses because

they blew off my eyes when I drove the car

the way it was meant to be driven, mostly

on little traveled rural roads. The car of-

fered up the marvelous smells of Castrol

GTX, unburned fuel and hot antifreeze, not

to mention that musty odor that emanates

from virtually every old British roadster.

I rarely assembled the top and side

curtains, having quickly discovered that

one got no wetter driving in the rain while

wearing a jacket and a ball cap than with

that impossibly leaky appliance affixed to

the car. Except in the coldest weather I

preferred to use the tonneau cover when

the car was parked outdoors, rain or shine.

The heater in my car was inoperable, but

the foot wells were toasty warm in the win-

ter, and so hot as to melt the soles of my

sneakers in the summer, so “top off” was a

tolerable year ‘round configuration.

Even before Cobras became collector

cars, aficionados would follow me up the

driveway or into a parking lot to get a

closer look at CSX2306. They were usually

driving an MGB, a Triumph Spitfire, or an

Austin Healy. One fellow was driving a

gorgeous triple-carb XKE. “

Is it a real


” was not a question I ever had to

field – there were few, if any, replicas back

then. I gave any number of fellow sports

car drivers exhilarating rides, and initially

I let some of them drive the car with me in

the passenger seat. But, after a few terri-

fying experiences I abandoned that suici-

dal practice, keeping the driving pleasure

to myself.

One sad morning I discovered that the

souped-up engine was pumping antifreeze

out of the exhaust pipe serving the left

hand cylinder bank. Ford drag racing spe-

cialists Buddy Criscoe and Hunt Palmer-

Ball ran a speed shop in town where the

engine went in for a rebuild, using a new

302 block and a mixture of old and new

parts. It cost me every cent I had at the

time, but the fun I had when I wasn’t


Winter 2016 74

– Ed Maxwell

In the last issue of The Shelby American, Ned Scudder

referenced CSX2306, the first Cobra he owned. That mention

caused Ed Maxwell to reminisce about his stint as the car’s owner.