Video: Shelby Cobra Dominates the 1963 Sports Car Season

The Shelby Cobra was a winner from the start, as this original 1963 Ford of Britain promotional clip demonstrates. Watch the birth of the legend here. 



Good race cars are often successful right out of the box, but seldom are they as dominant as Carroll Shelby’s Ford-powered AC Cobras were in 1963, their first full season in American sports car racing. The almost instant success put Shelby American firmly on the map, and it began the process of building the Cobra legend and transforming Carroll Shelby into a folk hero. “Buy it! Or watch it go by!” the Shelby American ads boasted.

Thanks to Ford of Britain and the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, we have this wonderful newsreel clip trumpeting the Cobra’s triumphant performance in the 1963 USRRC (United States Road Racing Championship). Although the Anglo-American hybrid actually won its first race at Riverside in early February, the action here starts at Sebring in March, where the Cobra easily won its class. Cobras then ran the table at Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, and Kent, Washington, amassing 111 championship points as poor Ferrari could collect only 28. This clip details Cobra’s dominating 1963 season—and as a bonus, Shelby’s original prototype Cobra (which recently sold for $13.75 million) makes an appearance toward the end, wheeled by Shelby himself. Enjoy the video.