Original 98-Year-Old Owner! 1965 AC Cobra

This isn’t the usual Barn Finds post as it features a car that’s not for sale. This is the story of a special car that has been owned by the same 98-year-old owner since new – and no, it doesn’t sound as if  Mr. Hank Williams (no, not that Hank Williams), the owner, is willing to part with his 1965 AC Cobra roadster anytime soon. The entire story is featured here on MotorTrend. Thanks to Larry D for this tip!

The story goes that Mr. Williams was in the market for a Corvette but ended up walking into an L.A. area Ford dealership and for two payments totaling $6,390.97, drove off in CSX-2227. But this wasn’t a boulevard cruiser or a late-night street racer, this Cobra saw lots of track time entering 394 competitions as well as performing as an everyday driver.

Digging deeper, we learn that this Cobra is one of the last of the Mark II’s with a transverse-mounted rear leaf spring and still features its 271 gross HP 289 CI V8 engine though there is no included image or mention of modifications or rebuilding that may have occurred to the 140K mile motor.

We’re told that this Cobra’s original color was Princess Blue, one of supposedly only three Cobras finished as such, and this one has had a respray. Princess Blue is a silvery blue but this car, at least to my eyes, looks very silver in hue. It’s got a boo-boo on the leading edge of the front header, just above the grille, but it looks pretty sound other than that. The Polyglas GT 60 series tires take me back, I remember when these were all the rage in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

The original red interior is still in place – it’s showing signs of wear and age, and of course, it is sporting the obligatory Carroll Shelby autograph. But nice to see is what appears to be an unmodified environment. In my mind, a red interior never goes with a blue exterior but obviously, there are those that would seriously disagree.

To celebrate Mr. Williams’ 98th birthday, he, his family, and of course the Cobra, were invited to a QruisinPCH cruise-in at Huntington Beach, California. The article elaborates, “Beale’s Texas BBQ and its scenic harbor-adjacent setting provided the perfect backdrop for Hank’s Cobra, alongside his display of memorabilia and photographs documenting more than 50 years of ownership and pride“. The cruisers even got him a birthday cake – a festivity that Mr. Williams, a WWII veteran, said that he never celebrated. Well, Mr. Williams, you deserved it, many happy returns!

Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Go Mr. Williams!

    Like 40
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Very nice story about a great car and the guy that has driven it how it was meant to be driven, my hero! May he drive it for many years to come.

    Like 50
    • Scott Tunner

      Hope we all can complete a similar great adventure story in any Chandra! Bless you Mr Williams.yhank you

      Like 3
  3. RayT Member

    Either I’ve seen this car and met the owner during my days in Southern California and the story has some incorrect details — the car I recall was factory-finish BRG with a black interior and had wire wheels — or there are two wonderful and very similar stories about well-loved and well-used Cobras and their original-and-current owners floating around out there.

    I hope there are two of them.

    The one I remember was a pretty regular attendee at the annual “Fabulous Fords Forever” show at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. I don’t remember the organizers making that Cobra a centerpiece in the show, but in retrospect, they should have!

    Like 18
    • Todd Zuercher

      Yes, RayT – you are correct! Hank and his Cobra were fixtures at Fabulous Fords Forever for decades! I used to visit with him every so often there.

      I had no idea he was still alive but glad to hear he is!

      Like 22
    • Mike_B_SVT

      There’s a “well loved” BRG / Tan interior with wire wheels up here in the Portland that turns up at local shows occasionally. CSX 2182.
      2nd owner has had it since ’66. Came out of Idaho. Unrestored.

      Like 6
  4. Frank Sumatra

    Great story and Mr.Williams made the right decision when he bought the Cobra. I hope we will see an article on his 100th birthday.

    Like 18
  5. Gord

    Chatted with him at one of the SAAC conventions many years ago. Great to see he’s still active. And of course another original owner is Herbie Hancock.

    Like 15
  6. Daryl Roe Daryl Member

    I have met him, spoke with him and seen this time capsual.. this is an honest to goodness piece of history, ahhhh pretty much just like Hank Williams himself

    Like 17
  7. Haig L Haleblian

    Stories like this inspire me to live to 100 with my Ford GT and 70 911S. You go Mr Williams!

    Like 12
    • Daryl Roe Daryl Member

      sir time is the great equalizer.. I have several oldies tucked away that I bank on for the future as well. now if I can just pull some large 98 Plus number like Hank!

      PS 70 911S is a great car. I have a few air cooled stuffed away

      Like 3
  8. Grant

    Wonder what a 41 year old has to do for a living to buy a brand new sports car that was double the cost of any other new car of the era. That part of the back ground story would be interesting, and maybe even inspiring to young people.

    Like 12
    • CeeOne

      “Wonder what a 41 year old has to do for a living to buy a brand new sports car that was double the cost of any other new car of the era”

      I don’t think it was double the cost of any other new car, it was about the same price as a Lincoln or Cadillac and 1/2 the price of a Ferrari.

      My dad was a blue collar worker, although he wore a suit, at Northrop. In 62 he was able to buy a new Corvette. He traded in his 58 Corvette. The Cobra would have been a couple hundred more than a Corvette. BTW the Corvette is in my garage.

      Like 15
  9. Srt8

    I bought a Ford from Michael Jackson. It was a tractor and the guy lived in Oklahoma.

    Like 14
  10. Daniel Harris

    Thanks for
    Your service
    You’re a great American sir
    Dan

    Like 14
  11. Michael De Vittorio

    Happy Birthday Mr. Williams and thank you for your service to our nation. Here’s to another 98!

    Like 11
  12. Gerard Frederick

    What service? Why is he a great American? What has he done to earn that exhalted title?

    Like 3
    • Bob P

      Mr. Williams is a veteran of WWII. Does that qualify, Gerry?

      Like 32
      • Gerard Frederick

        Well, not according to the memoirs of America´s greatest flyer, Charles Lindbergh.

    • William W Nietsch

      Gerard!! Hank was in WWII, that certainly deserves the title of a great American plus he lived through all that BS and still drives that Cobra. My hats off to that gent!!

      Like 35
    • Jt Toy

      He earned the title like my dad who flew 25 missions with the 8th Air Force as a B-17 ball turret gunner.

      Like 25
  13. Scott Meredith

    Gerald F.,
    You need to pay more attention and/or read better. The article says that he was a WWll veteran.

    Like 14
  14. Russell

    I love this story. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe I saw Hank and his car many years ago at Laguna Seca at the Historics. I’ll be searching through volumes of pictures I took over the years there to try and verify. There was a large original Cobra gathering and Carol Shelby was also present.

    Like 5
  15. MammothStu

    What a great story. When I was a kid in the mid-’60’s, my Dad took me to the showroom on Sepulveda Blvd in El Segundo to look around. For whatever reason, he bought me a Cobra emblem from the parts dept. that day. I still have it, but unfortunately not the balance of the car like Mr. Williams.

    Like 7
  16. Jt Toy

    Such a great story. It made my day. Thanks for sharing!

    Like 6
  17. Greg Gustafson

    “NO KIT” ? How about “FA KIT” ! Why is this car even being posted. Maybe I’ll post a few cars that I don’t intend to sell.

    Like 2
    • Scott T Meredith

      Greg G: I’m sure that most readers enjoyed the article. Perhaps if you had an interesting story regarding one of the “few cars that you don’t intend to sell”, folks would like to read it . . . That would be better than complaining –

      Gerald F: Many would not consider Charles Lingbergh “America’s Greatest Flyer” nor an American hero. After all, he was a Nazi sympathizer and he fled our country when there was negitive feedback towards him after he suggested that the US stay out of the war and that our government negotiate with Hitler –

      Like 26
    • jwaltb

      Maybe you should try not to be a dork instead.

      Like 3
      • Greg Gustafson

        I’ll stand by my original post; my opinion is just as important as anyone else’s whether you agree or not. Just what part of “Barn Find” don’t you all get? This Cobra is hardly a Barn Find. Move on.

  18. Gerald Prendergast

    I met Mr. Williams at a car show a few years back. My Mustang happened to be parked next to his Cobra. What a nice gentlemen. His love for his car was evident in our discussions that day. Heart warming to see him still out there with his Cobra, and that they are getting the attention they deserve.

    Like 9
  19. Mike Wren

    Hank Williams is a wonderful ambassador for the Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club and attends as many shows as he is able to at his ripe old age. He loves to share stories about his Cobra and is an enthusiastic celebrant of all things automotive. I am so happy that I have been able to know him for the past 25 years and I hope that he is able to stay around for many more.

    Like 12
  20. jw

    I saw the Cobra and spoke with Mr. Hanks at the last event at the socal Shelby shop. Have interacted with him at a variety of car events and he is always very pleasant and provides many, many stories. Happy Birthday, Mr. Hanks and enjoy many more…

    Like 4
  21. Ted

    Met Mr Williams for the first time at the Fabulous Fords Forever event at Knott’s in 1986, then for many more times over the years up to 2019, such a great guy to visit with, thanks for all the great memories!

    Like 4
  22. Lukin R.

    ♥ the reg plate :)

    Like 1
  23. jwaltb

    Greg, it’s not in this case about whether it’s an appropriate car for BF- I’ve complained a few times about million dollar cars, only to be told to each one’s own. This is a wonderful car owned by a 98 year-old guy who’s had it and raced it for decades, and is apparently a very cool dude. Meeting him would be an education in Cobras, racing, and America past and present.
    How many people do you think say that about you or me?

  24. OldCarGuy

    I looked up translations for “G*******n”, and, in multiple translating dictionaries, it means “sour grapes”.

  25. Mike

    How could anyone find something negative to say about this ?story HAHAHA WTF is wrong with people .

    Like 1
    • Haig L Haleblian

      Answer? A lot.

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