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Cobras in Barns? Yep, They Are Still Out There!

Cobra by the Barn

Update 9/8/14 – Many of you thought this was a fake, but the supposed owner just commented and apparently our little discussion got him motivated enough to pull it out and get it running again! He also claims that it does in fact have a CSX COX number…

From 8/10/14 – Submitted by David Meyer – Nestled away in a rural back garden just 40 or so miles away from central London UK, I’ve found treasure! Yes, it’s aluminum. Yes, it has a FE engine. And yes, it has a CSX chassis number and registration. Does this qualify as a barn find?

1964 Shelby Cobra

I ran across the car by accident. I went to buy a couple of Lucas SQ8 fog lamps. I got to talking to the guy and that’s it. All I know is that he’s an old retired Ford Design Engineer and that he’s had the car for years. He keeps it in an old shed, but pulled it out just to show me. I noticed it has an FE big block with a T10. The guy said it has inboard rear disc brakes and that AC only made a few like that. It’s got a locker, standard AC wires, and Prince of Darkness (Lucas) electrics. I don’t think its ever been restored and looks complete but very tatty. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s for sale…

Thanks for sharing this with us David! Looks like it has lived a very interesting life. So what do you guys say, does it qualify?


  1. Paul P

    I’d love to see Clarkson, May, and Hammond’s expressions if they were mucking about the countryside and someone pulled this ‘out of a shed’ for them!

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  2. Alan (Michigan)

    Holy shamoley!

    This has to be one of the earliest cars with the Shelby bits. I don’t recall seeing any on this side of the Atlantic with AC logo plates, I thought they were replaced by the Shelby items.
    Based on appearance, this car has a competition history to boot. I hope that this guy has got a way to secure the car, because the hounds will be sniffing, now that it has come to light. You might want to alter the photos by obscuring the registration letters.

    Shelby historians should be able to tell pretty much everything about the car based on the CSX number, like whether it was originally a small or big block, etc. Gold mine in blue paint.
    If real, worth megabucks today.

    Gotta love the “Chevy Repair Kit” sticker!

    Like 0
  3. John

    %$#@*&$%#%^%$#@!!!!!!! That’s all I can say!!

    Like 0
    • Trickie Dickie Member

      John, Perfectly stated, and I could’t @%$(++)^&ing Agree More !!

      Like 0
  4. Rick

    Now I’m not that big of a Cobra freak when it comes to facts about individual cars and specifications, but I do know enough to realize that this is a significant find. In fact I showed it to my wife, she thought it was cute, but she’s not much into cars. I told her that finding this car would be the equivalent of finding out your neighbor had a previously unknown solid gold Egyptian head from the pyramids in their garage. I say it’s a nominee for Barn Find of the Year! (and would be the runaway winner)

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  5. Mark E

    Let me interject a little bit of humor and say to make this a TRUE barn find the owner should: remove all trim pieces, lights, etc. Same with the engine, all valve covers, filters, hoses, etc must come OFF. Now randomly strew the pieces throughout the garage, basement and attic. Be sure to save the rarer pieces. You will want to either bury those in the garden or the septic tank. Now remove all removable pieces from the body – doors, trunk lid, hood. Then fill the body with VALUABLE items such as 1990s computers. Harlequin romances work especially well due to their cheapness, moisture holding ability and use as nesting material for rodents. Finally, if you haven’t removed the wheels and tires, dig depressions for them to sit in so that the body may bask in the feel of the cool damp earth. After all it’s hard work, the car deserves it, right?.

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  6. Richard Prokopchuk

    I’m sure you haven’t given out the man’s identity nor location. In any case, this car is world class diamond, and if he’s not careful the car will be stolen by someone whose greed exceeds their means. I’m sure if he had the wherewithal to do so, he’d have built a locked, concrete bunker in which to store it. Come to think of it, perhaps he has and we did not see it nor did the info provider mention it for obvious reasons. That being said….I love it.

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  7. Tom Cotter Member

    Nice find! The car is not a California-built CSX designated car, but a British-built COB car. These cars were built in the AC factory to Shelby Cobra specs. They are not “Cobras” in the strictest definition, but are accepted by SAAC as Cobras. These cars are often the best driving cars because they often had small-block engines with big-block suspensions, which meant they used coil springs rather than the primitive leaf springs. These cars are often considered the best of both worlds.

    Like 0
    • Ned Scudder

      Look a little closer, Tom. It is not a real Cobra. If it has a CSX number, it will be wrong.

      Like 0
  8. ElvaRacingRoger

    Stunning car but irresponsible to publish pictures showing the UK registration number. Easy to track owner location. Hope the owner agreed as he may regret dragging the Cobra out of the garage unless of course he gets a life changing offer!

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  9. Dolphin Member

    I’ve heard that you can find some interesting things in English garden sheds, but this must be one of the most interesting and unlikely of them all. Some questions come to mind:

    Does the car have a race history? Presumably yes, but nothing comes up for AC or Cobra *** *** on Google.
    Does the owner ever exercise it on the road?
    Has the owner considered finding out what kinds of bids the car would bring at RM’s next Monaco auction?

    PS: Jesse, In light of Richard Prokopchuk’s comment I would be tempted to rub out the tag number on that Mini in the background in case it could be used by an unscrupulous person to trace this AC’s location.

    Like 0
  10. Stewart

    An AC Cobra is as real and original as it gets, even more real than anything Shelby got his hands on! They were ALL built at Thames Ditton, shipped without engines to Shelby and the engines fitted and the UK cars shipped back, the US cars then had all the AC badges and VIN plates removed and Shelby items put in their place. MK1 and 2 cobras were those of the AC Ace strengthened up, the Mk3 was also designed by AC however ford let the AC Engineers have use of their computer (which tried to tell them to put one of the rear suspension mountings in the drivers hip) so they whet away and did it again without the computers help!

    Like 0
  11. Murph

    Gimme! ;-P

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  12. Robert J

    The thing I notice about Cobras is that they look humdrum when fully restored, but they look ripped to the tits awesome when they are tatty. I’ll have mine tatty, thanks.

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  13. Angelo

    A few details make me think its a replica (try to spot them)

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    • 3PedalRacer

      The trunk latch is definitely not factory.

      Like 0
  14. e

    I saw this car a few years ago its a right mess and has been patched and repaired a number of times . it looks great , smells great, but I had heard the shed had colapsed on it.
    Strange thing it had 2 fuel tanks the upper one stopped the use of internal trunk hinges

    Like 0
  15. Cullen

    @Tom Cotter- Mr. Cotter, it’s a privilege to have your comments posted here. I love your work. Thank you for shedding some historical light and truth on the nature of the special find. This one seems like it begs the attention of your writing as the subject of a possible short story. From all the amateur automotive archaeologists out there, thank you for your contribution to the culture. Cullen

    Like 0
  16. jim s

    looks like it is close to being a daily driver to me. still bring a lot of money at the right auction. would love to read stories from the owner about the cars life. great find.

    Like 0
  17. Angelo

    The cob chassisnumber never had a fe (big block ) engine , there was only one cobra with rear inboard disc brakes chassisnumber csx2000 (but most replicas with jaguar diff)

    The profile of the rear is wrong and the latches in the back never were outside on an original cobra

    I Would like to know the chassisnumber

    Like 0
  18. geomechs geomechs Member

    Just wish it was in MY barn…

    Like 0
  19. Myles D-W

    This original AC Cobra appears to be registered as a Ford Zodiac.

    Like 0
  20. rancho bella

    I collect Lucas Square 8’s…………at least I purchased so many it seems that way.
    I’m not a AC Cobra fan but this is an interesting story. I prefer an AC 4 four pot

    Like 0
  21. paul

    As Monty Python would bloody say, this is the holy grail if their ever was one.

    Like 0
  22. Danger Dan

    Here in Berkeley california there is the legend of the green cobra. The car has been photographed and written about since I was a lad. A cal prof has a weathered green 289 cobra he daily drove for years and parked under the tennis courts on bancroft. It has a white hardtop and t shirts over the seats. The paint is flaking and chipping off in dime size pieces and it looks like holy hell, and is the holy grail. You could catch him ripping up the long climb to his home base at about 4:30 on any weekday. About 5 years ago a greasy young mug was driving it down the street and I could only hope he was on a mechanical test run. I have a pic of it in my shoebox somewhere. There is also a guy with a right hand drive one in the oakland hills. I bought a very clean 69 gtv from him and he wants a cool mil for his. DD

    Like 0
    • Ned Scudder

      The green Cobra isn’t a legend, it’s real. The owner is well-known to the Shelby Club and the car’s details and photo are in the registry.

      Like 0
  23. z1 rider

    Taillights are not the typical ones use for original Cobras, but the mis-shapen body sheet metal makes me doubt it is a replica, unless someone was making alloy replica’s 20 -30 years ago.

    I once reworked the pedal pivot shaft on a 289 Cobra and the tilt of the brake pedal makes me think this one needs a rework too. The design is pretty crude.

    Overall the wear and tear and condition makes me think this is an original. It would take some real talent to give a replica the patina of this car, and then why would you?. You would never be able to pass it off as an original to anyone with an average knowledge about Cobras.

    Like 0
  24. Migge

    It is very strange and from the pics I can’t tell you if it is aluminium or GRP. I have seen hundreds of GRP replicas and many many original 289 and 427 Cobras. Some detailed pictures from underfloor and cockpit and engine bay etc. will tell us the truth.

    Like 0
  25. John S

    I may be alone in this, but to me, this car is more beautiful than the trailer queen fully restored mega buck cobras that have crossed the block at Barrett Jackson. It has that gorgeous rawness to it. I LOVE the worn pedals. The “real-ness” is perfect. It’s perfect because of all of it’s imperfections.

    Like 0
  26. Chris H.

    Something doesn’t seem right about this car. It seems like there would be more dents if it were an alloy bodied car. I see a ton of hast bodywork, and it seems like the grille opening hints at a fiberglass shell. I’ve looked at enough barn find cobras over the years to have doubts about this one. But hey, pictures only tell so much of the story, still a neat find, regardless!

    Like 0
  27. ron

    Holly *&$@##!*&&%^%%^*(()*&%$#$@@!!@#$%%^^&*()…….I cannot fathom, for the life of me, how someone can put away something like this and forget it…..perhaps now that Carrol is free of his earthly being and is free to roam, he will visit this character and stick a foot up his butt……sorry Carrol, actually I hope you never see this…..P.S. your right Mark E.

    Like 0
  28. A.Nonymous

    This car is a restore project, I know the guy & have pics of the body strapped to the top of his jag when he bought it, and got pulled over by the police for having a dangerous load on top!!!!

    Like 1
  29. e

    As I said above I saw this car a few years ago and it is alloy, if its the same car .
    Someone who I vaguely knew at the time when I told them about it , told me they have driven it.. .

    Like 0
  30. Mark Shannon

    This car is a replica. It is registered as a 1964 Ford Zodiac with the chassis number Z64D554980. And supposedly has a Ford 390 V8 motor.

    Like 0
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      That’s interesting Mark. When I ran the registration number it came back as A.C. Cobra that was first licensed in 1964. Where are you getting your specifics?

      Like 0
      • Neil

        A few possibilities here. Firstly, as far as the UK databases are concerned, this car does indeed come back as a ’64 Zodiac. Because the registration is painted onto the car, it could well be that the owner sold the registration at some point in time and it has landed up on said Ford.

        If it was a replica, there would have to be enough of the original Zodiac to warrant the car retaining the original Ford plate – normally the chassis is enough for this – otherwise it would end up on a ‘Q’ plate, regardless of age. A ‘Q’ plate is generally used in the UK for cars with indeterminate origins or anything built with a mix of used and new parts.It was introduced in the early 80s so if this is a replica and was built before then, that would not apply.

        Final possibility – the databases are just wrong. This does happen and it would be fairly obvious with a quick inspection if this was a genuine car or a one-off body sitting on a Zodiac chassis.

        Google – vehicle check uk free



        (the latter returns nothing with a make of AC, but does for Ford – perhaps an incorrect entry (the owner worked for Ford) on the paperwork when registered?)

        Like 0
      • Ned Scudder

        The CSX number is incorrect for this car.

        Like 0
  31. Kevin

    RAM made a few ali cars a few decades ago, but looking at the front, is it meant to be a 289 style car?? in which case not a RAM. Ford 390 would suggest an FE, but as far as i am aware, only FE427 and FE428 engines were fitted to original cars. I am not aware of any original ACs that had in-board rear brakes or the aforementioned gearbox fitted – it should be a Ford toploader if original. Just my humble, Ned can comment far better than me.

    Like 0
  32. Connor

    I’m wondering if it has some sort of racing history?

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    • sundude

      at a minimum, it appears to have some crash history,,, LOL

      Like 0
  33. Mark Shannon

    I think a T10 should be correct for an AC 289 MKII. I am looking for one for a car I look after if anyone knows of one.

    Like 0
  34. Uwe Mueller

    Looks like a damaged MK IV Cobra mixed with horrible details. It has MK IV long nose, no small vents beside the nose, closed 3rd wiper mount and telescopic dampers or single, big round tube behind the quick jacks. The filler cap sits on a closing plate covering the opening for the Jag filler cap used on MK IVs.

    So for me it looks like a 80’s car someone applied a CSX to.

    Like 0
    • sundude

      IMO, this is the most plausible explanation so far, but it would still require more scrutiny as the Zodiac registration info and several details of the car are unusual

      Like 0
  35. gunningbar

    I hope there will be a follow up with some answers….good story so far.Others here know this car….small world at times….fascinating.

    Like 0
    • me

      Hi you wanted some follow up. its my car.
      it was built as I understand for racing by richard frost a well known race car builder of Black heath. He built a number of formula 2 cars and indianapolis cars, one of which I believe came 2nd one year.
      As i understand it was last used about 30 years ago .
      the shed it was left in collapsed on top of it but did not damage it.
      It was however damaged when an industrial fan that was hanging in the roof of the new shed fell on it breaking the screen, wind wing a couple of instruments and the body and door on the drivers side.
      It has a 1964 390 gt with a strengthened block, that the number matches the vin plate T10 gearbox I believe it original had an HEH toploader but no idea why it was changed.
      there is a race scrutineer ticket that was under the carpet from lyden hill 1974.
      There was some pictures of it racing at north weald but I think they got thrown
      It has coil spring suspension inboard discs .
      Following the interest I dug it out, rebuilt the brakes with original new parts
      got it running (the engine was full of water as the shed leaked in to it) it hasn’t moved yet under it own power but did move accidently and the nose has now got extra shape.
      I am also now in the process of putting it back to its original white.
      I have had a good laugh at what people have seen that is not there, but thanks to all as it gave me inspiration.
      If all goes well it will be at the southend on sea classic breakfast in October.
      yes it does have a CSX number

      Like 1
      • 260Beam

        thank you for clearing up so many questions about the car. I need to ask an obvious question. How does it have a CSX number if its not an “original” Shelby cobra? Or are we using that term to say that a non-Shelby authentic CSX number was assigned when it was titled? Sorry if Im missing something.

        As a replica cobra owner, I understand that imitation is the highest form of flattery….

        Like 0
  36. Harit Trivedi

    When I saw this yesterday, I wondered why the number plate was showing, should be easy to trace, track down and invade privacy. Now its covered LOL.
    I have often come across of vintage and classic cars in India where I try to trace history, links and answer questions. This post has more questions than answers, some one will research the story and come up with history where all will fit in. The cars which I have linked were, sadly, much more mundane.
    Cheers, here is to more stories coming out.

    Like 0
  37. e

    In the 60s Ford Motor company in England would registar allsorts of prototype vehicles as 214E . There are early transits , cortinas etc registared as 214e this was to hide them as the registration syatem was not as secure as today as it was done by local councils.
    214e is also a left hand drive mk3 zodiac
    As I said prevoiusly I have seen this car and it does have a csx chassis plate and number

    Like 0
    • Ned Scudder

      Reproduction AC Cars ID tags are everywhere. I will be waiting to compare the tag with the number stamped in the chassis, if there is one.

      Like 0
  38. e

    Ok Ive been back to see the car the owner is a bit confused by all the interest.
    He let me have a look around it but I’m sworn to secracy about its location.
    it is alloy , it does have inboard rear discs but not a jag rear it has two wishbones and sliding jiont halfshafts, two tube chassis . I was shown the log book CSX number , body convertable, the inlet has 427 stamped on it , 750 holley, dual point , tool kit elora spaners thor hammer etc shelley jack, the wind screen is broken
    hope that is of assistance

    Like 0
    • sundude

      there was only one AC/Shelby Cobra to have inboard rear brakes, the original prototype CSX2000, so what you were looking at is clearly NOT an original Cobra

      what CSX number was it wearing?

      Like 0
  39. Speedy

    I found the address of the so called ‘Cobra’ through the registration on the Mini. Copied it before it was covered up. I know this car and it is not real, but made up from a replica AC chassis, and other parts. Nice but not a COB or CSX car. Sorry!

    Like 0
  40. R Stainer

    See http://www.acownersclub.co.uk/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3201. This is a ‘bitsa’, first road-registered as a Ford Zodiac and last road-registered in 1988, with some AC parts.


    Like 0
  41. st16

    had a read of this and the AC site
    the ac site claims it has a tvr chassis so how do you get a big block in a TVR chassis.
    A tvr chassis has too narrow track these pictures look correct
    The tvr chassis would not allow the size of rear wheels
    the chassis number quoted is I know only partially correct I wonder were the person got it from ?
    questions over the inboard brakes but what about the wire wheels with a big block
    I beleive this car is more real and orginal than many restroarations or ones that have been built from wreaked parts of others .
    the best bit about this car is the puke tank that has Atco on it .

    Like 0
  42. cory

    A couple things disappointed me about this car, one that it’s not real, but also that we have an owner perpetuating a myth about the origins of his car. Clearly it was a parts bin special. What really disappointed me in the ferocious attitudes of other owners. The car is pretty cool. If you just accept it for what th is.

    Like 0
  43. me

    reading through this is a thought when does any car become a parts bin speacil or a bitsa.
    To me if a car has only had acceptable service parts replaced in its life then its not a bitsa .
    but if it has new chassis, engine, body parts etc is it a bitsa or still orginal ?
    perpetuating a myth about its origins , everyone else has done this .
    in fact there has been some very nasty commnets on other sites
    Its my car .I’m enjoying it, I’m sure there are a lot of peopel out there would like it .
    just to bring everyone up to date, this afternoon I stripped the engine for a rebuild just wiating for parts , its half sanded down to go back to orginal white , I found maroon, yellow and silver paint below.

    Like 0
  44. me

    the car is now white .
    over the next few days proberbly weeks the engine will go together

    Like 0

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