I was recently digging through old forum posts on various websites when I came across a photo of what was clearly a barn find Shelby Daytona Coupe. There wasn’t any information about it or a link, but it looked so incredible I decided I had to do some digging to see what I could find out about it. I eventually tracked the photos back to the Nevada Shelby Club, where I discovered that the photo was of the Missing Daytona Coupe. This story originally broke back in 2001, but I thought it was so interesting that I had to post it for anyone that missed it back then, those who might have forgotten about it or for those that were wondering what ended up happening with it.
The story behind this Shelby is almost as an incredible as the car itself is. Shelby’s Cobra was quite the force in racing, but they just couldn’t take on the best Ferrari had to offer. They had the power and handling but lacked the aerodynamics to achieve the kind of speeds the Ferraris could. So, Shelby set out to building 6 coupes with the help of Peter Brock. The one you see here is car CSX2287, the very first one built. It was the only one that was built entirely by Shelby, the other 5 were built in Italy.
After dominating in the 1965 racing season, CSX2287 set a couple land speed records at the Salt Flats and was then retired. In late ’65, it was sold to the founder of Russkits, a slot-car manufacturer for $4,500. A year later, it traded hands, this time to Phil Spector for around $12k. Spector drove it on the streets for a while, but it proved to be too uncomfortable for street use. He eventually sold it to his bodyguard, George Brand, for just $1,000. And this is where the story begins to get interesting. No one knows why or exactly when, but as some point in the early ’70s, Brand gave the car to his daughter, Donna O’Hara.
Calling O’Hara eccentric might be an understatement. A close childhood friend got the opportunity to drive it on a handful of occasions, but shortly after taking ownership of this Coupe, she put it into storage. No one knows why she took it off the road, but clearly, she didn’t want people to know she owned this history car. It didn’t take long for the rumors to start as to what happened to this Shelby. Some claimed that it had been destroyed, while others that Carroll Shelby had it hidden away somewhere. In reality, Donna had it hidden in a storage unit in Southern California, left to deteriorate.
There were many Shelby collectors that tracked Donna down to see if she still had the car and if so if she would sell it. Every time someone came knocking on her door, she would deny its very existence. Even Carroll Shelby approached her about buying it, and like usual, she denied owning it and told him to move along. That didn’t stop serious collectors from continuing their pursuit of CSX2287. For whatever reason, Donna decided life wasn’t worth living, even after receiving some serious cash offers for the car. On October 22, 2000, Donna apparently lit herself on fire. With her passing, ownership of the car came into question and a legal battle between Donna’s parents, her childhood friend and Phil Spector (who claimed to have never sold it to Brand) ensued.
After a lengthy legal battle, it was decided the car legally belonged to Donna’s friend, Kurt Goss. Her mother had already sold the car to a neurosurgeon for $4 million, so she had to pay Goss $800k as part of the settlement, taking up much of what was left of the money. Talk about a strange and dramatic story. The only bright side, if there is one, is that the lost Cobra is no long hidden from the world. Today you can see this incredible car at the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.