LET THE ARGUMENTS BEGIN...
SHELBY DAYTONA COUPE
CARROLL GETS HIS FERRARI BEATER
Carroll Shelby, his helmet now firmly on
the peg and replaced by his trademark
Stetson, had a dream, and it was to beat
Ferrari in international GT racing. It wasn’t
so much a dream, in fact, as a mission.
And that’s how he ended up turning to a
small British sports car manufacturer in a
leafy suburb of London.
AC Cars built the chassis, Ford provided
engines and Shelby and his team brought
the intent. The result was the V8-engined
AC Cobra. The original 4.7-liter roadster
was potent on the short straights of
most American tracks, and the Cobra
would dominate the United States Road
Racing Championship from 1963 to ‘ 65.
But the higher-speed European tracks
– and competition from Ferrari’s 250
GTO, among others – called for
something more extreme.
The Cobra, even in hard-top form, had
proved slow down Le Mans’ long Mulsanne
Straight in ‘ 63. A coupe had to be the
answer, and Shelby charged employee
Peter Brock with designing the new shape.
With its truncated rear end going against
conventional thinking, Brock’s design
proved a low-drag revelation, and a legend
was born in the Shelby Daytona Coupe.
Straightline speed jumped 30mph, to
more than 190mph, and the successes
flowed. The Daytona Coupe would win the
GT class at Le Mans in both 1964 and ‘ 65,
the first year yielding a fourth place overall
for Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant in a
Shelby American-entered car. A year later it
was a car fielded by AC Cars and driven by
Jack Sears and Richard Thompson.
Head to head with Ferrari, Shelby would
just miss out on the title he so craved in
‘ 64. But it was mission accomplished the
following season, trouncing the Scuderia in
the Over 2-liter class of the International
Championship for GT Manufacturers – the
first American constructor to do so.
squad came in the prototype class because
the car had yet to be homologated, while
its win in the Targa Florio the same year
was also as a prototype entry. But the
factory had chosen that route in order to
develop the car for the future.
That spawned 1974’s 3-liter RSR with the
tea-tray rear wing and yet more success
for Porsche’s customers, including a
second Daytona 24 Hours win for Brumos
Racing, Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood.
RSR 3.0 production ended in 1975,
but the car raced on for several more
seasons, with many privateers choosing
the nimble machine over its turbocharged
934 and 935 successors.
Only six Shelby Daytona Coupes were built,
but the stunningly beautiful and effective
streamlined racers left an indelible mark
during a two-year career that included two
Le Mans class wins and the ’ 65 International
Championship for GT Manufacturers.
Dan Gurney and Bob
Bondurant took a GT
class win and fourth
overall at Le Mans in
1964. Bondurant went
on to anchor Shelby’s
’ 65 International
Championship for GT
seven of the 10 races.
When Peter Gregg and
Hurley Haywood won
their second Daytona
24 Hours in 1975
(LEFT), they headed a
Porsche Carrera RSR
RSRs finishing eighth
and ninth, too.
Sole interloper in
seventh was NART’s
Ferrari 365 GTB/4.