The Cobra in the Bedroom

The Cobra in the bedroom

We have heard of cars being stashed in barns, dealerships, and even living rooms, but this is the first one we have seen that was found in a bedroom! It isn’t just any old car either, it’s a real deal AC Cobra! The story comes from Tom Cotter’s The Cobra in the Barn. Enjoy the read!

My friend Henry Wilkinson is a hound dog. The guy never stops searching out interesting cars to buy. He’s owned Ferraris, Porsches, even a McLaren Can Am car, but recently he’s been hunting down 289 Cobras. So one day Henry calls me and asks if I’d like to join him to load up a Cobra he had just purchased in Richmond, South Carolina. I knew this would be interesting.

Henry did what any one of us could do to find a Cobra: he ran an ad in Hemmings Motor News that simply read: “Wanted, 289 Cobra, any condition.”

We’ve all seen these ads, but they don’t really work, do they?

One day in May 2004, Henry received a call from Major Gerald Malloy, a U.S. Army soldier and a Cobra fanatic. Malloy, who lives in Richmond Hill, South Carolina, was jogging around his neighborhood in November 2002, and noticed what appeared to be a Cobra under a tarp, behind a Model A Ford. He said that with all the junk piled on top of the car, it was hard to tell for sure what the car was from the road. But a small portion of the car cover had lifted and exposed a rectangular tail light and the end of the bumper.

“I jogged by again and again, and decided to just knock on the door,” Malloy says. “I introduced myself and asked if it was a Cobra. The gentleman, Ken Weir, said yes. I asked if I could look at it, and again he said yes.”

Weir was retired from the air force, so he and Malloy had some things to talk about.Weir told him that he had purchased the Cobra in England in 1965, then moved it with him to his new station in Spain, then to Florida and Maine, where it had last been driven in 1984. He told Malloy that he hoped one day to restore it.

“From that moment, I dropped by to talk to Ken every five months or so,” he says. “Then, in February 2004, I drove by and noticed that the carport was cleared out and the Cobra was gone. I almost had a heart attack.” Malloy was relieved to find out that Weir had simply moved the Cobra into the house—into a spare bedroom into which he built a movable wall. Now the car was much more viewable, without all the junk and the car cover piled on top.

Weir showed Malloy all the paperwork and serial numbers on the car. It was in fact a rare COX model. The Shelby American Registry shows that a total of fifty-nine COX—which stands for CObra eXport—cars were manufactured. These were left-hand drive Cobras, manufactured by A.C., for sale in Europe. COX6057 was originally painted Guardsman Blue and had black interior and it was consigned to a Mr. H. R. Owen, one of London’s premier Rolls-Royce dealers. Weir purchased the car on July 5, 1965, and eventually brought the car to the United States. That’s as much as the register tells.

Being a Cobra fan, Malloy wanted to own the barn . . . umm, bedroom, find, but with his retirement from the army pending and the recent purchase of a new house in Boston—plus his Richmond Hill home—Malloy regrettably could not consider the car. So when Henry Wilkinson’s Cobra want ad appeared in Hemmings Motor News, it caught Malloy’s attention. When he told Wilkinson about the COX Cobra, Henry flew in his own plane the next day from Asheville, North Carolina, to inspect and purchase the car.

I was lucky enough to have been invited for the car’s unveiling. As I drove up to the modest house in a pretty seaside community, the bedroom wall was just being removed. And there it was, like the opening of a tomb to unveil valuable treasures inside.

 Day it was removed

The car was no longer blue. It was now white with burgundy stripes. The doors were removed and the car obviously had been neglected for many years. But as we started to inspect the critical locations around the car for the COX6057 designations, we knew it was the real McCoy—an honest-to-goodness lost and discovered Cobra.

Henry paid a fair price for the car, including a generous finder’s fee to Malloy, and then we loaded it on the truck and were headed down the road toward Henry’s home several hours away. When Wilkinson got home, he called Cobra Registrar Ned Scudder who remarked, “Eureka, you’ve found the lost Weir Cobra!”

In all honesty, the car did need work. Even though the trend lately is to leave Cobras in their as-found condition, this car was probably beyond that. The body had pockmarks and bad Bondo repairs, the chassis had surface rust, and the engine looked like squirrels had lived in it. Henry had the car torn apart within just a few days and worked to get parts refurbished by craftsmen throughout the region.

In less than six months, the chassis, body, suspension, and engine were all restored and simply needed assembly. The car—now finished—has become a fabulous example of the unusual COX series of Cobras and won Best of Class at the 2005 Amelia Island Concours.

And what about Malloy? Is he upset about not being in a position to buy the car of his dreams? “If I had been offered the car one month earlier or four months later, it would have been mine,” he says. “But my wife believes I’ll find another one, so I’m hopeful.”

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Comments

  1. scot

    ~ i hope Mr. Malloy’s wife is correct, but not til after i find mine.
    . another inspiring story, Tom. have a wonderful 2014.

  2. Kman

    A truly wonderful story where everyone seems to have gotten something and was fairly treated. I too hope Mr. Malloy finds his Cobra. A happy holiday to you Jesse and many thanks for what you bring us automophiles all year.

  3. Magic

    That is so cool .. Great to see another lost treasure found and restored !! Shame it’s not in the UK still lol. Happy new year all I’m off to place one of them add’s
    Magic

  4. TuckerTorpedo

    Kind of ironic that it was stored in a bedroom, as collectors now value it the same as 3-4 average small homes.

  5. Richard F. Gibbons Member

    I always love hearing interesting old car stories. Especially old Cobras. An old wine buddy of mine had an old AC Ace under a tarp back in the day, and while I wanted him to put a 289 Ford HPO in it, he eventually sold it to an old guy who restored it to its original condition. The right thing to do. Rich

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