Monday, January 2, 2012


CSX2287 - The long lost Prototype Daytona Coupe The original prototype Cobra Daytona Coupe that has been missing for 30 years, was recently sold for over $3 million dollars. As one of six closed Coupe Cobras, the prototype had a interesting racing career, but that is where the story starts. After winning the Manufacturer's trophy for Shelby American in 1965, the six Coupes were retired. Ford brought the GT 40 project to Shelby to take over. The instructions were simple enough, retire the Cobras and race & win with the GT 40's. Daytona Coupe CXS2287 returned to Shelby American to be reconditioned. It joined the public relations Cobra Caravan touring the country. Later Craig Breedlove and Bobby Tatroe took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats and set 23 international and national speed records. Shelby wanted to sell the cars, but no one wanted the spent racing Coupes. They sat around Shelby American for a couple of years. The engine and transmissions were taken out. Interest finally awoke for the cars and they were sold, some for less than $4,000. CSX2287 was sold to Jim Russell, owner of Russkit Models for $4,500. Russkit made slot-cars and model car kits. Russell converted the car for street use and kept it for about a year. He then sold the Coupe to Phil Spector, music producer. Russell had advertised the car for $12,500. Spector drove the Coupe on the streets of Los Angeles. But retired racing cars do not make good street cars. Designed for high speed race tracks, the Coupe was uncomfortable and hot. The story has it that Spector got so many tickets his lawyer advised him to get rid of the Coupe before he had to give up his driver's license. Spector took it to a mechanic to see about making it more streetable. They said conversion was going to cost a lot of money. The shop suggested "scrapping it" and offered him $800 for it as a parts car. Spector didn't scrap the Coupe but he was ready to get rid of it. George Brand, Spector's body guard, offered him $1,000 for the Coupe in 1971. Brand later gave the car to his daughter, Donna O'Hara. (Read below for an update on this part of the story.) O'Hara and her husband, John, were approached numerous times about selling the car. The offers, according to the SAAC registry, were under market value and were repeatedly turned down. O'Hara finally did put a price on it equal to a piece of property they wanted to buy, but offered that kind of money for it. In 1982 the O'Hara's were divorced and Donna took the Coupe with her. She went into obscurity and hid the car. Potential buyers who found her were told to go away and she wouldn't confirm she even had the car. Rumors floated around that the Coupe set in a garage in Southern California unrestored. Actually as it turned out it was wasting away in storage. The legendary lost Daytona Cobra Coupe... An article in the LA Times reported that Robert Lavoie, an attorney representing Kurt Goss, said she was approached at least two times in the last couple of years. She was offered about a half-million dollars but wouldn't sell it. She told friends she was going to hold on to it to pay for her retirement. During the 70's she let Goss drive it once in awhile. He was a childhood friend of Donna's. The ownership of the car is now a court issue. On October 22, 2000, Donna O'Hara went under a bridge, her rabbits in hand, on a horse trail in Fullerton, poured gasoline on herself and lit it. It took her 15 hours to die. She was found before she died but refused to even give her name to the police or the hospital. A month later she was identified when some friends reported her missing. Goss said she called him on October 17 and asked that he come to her La Habra house. There she asked Goss should something happen to her, if he would take care of her personal effects. Goss says she also said she wanted him to have the Coupe and three other cars she owned. When he heard that she died, he contacted her mother, Dorothy. He also paid the back rent for the storage garage where the Coupe was parked. However, the manager of the rental storage place would not let Goss move the car without proper legal authority. By the way, Donna died without a will. In the meantime a rare car dealer from Montecito, Martin Eyears, contacted Donna's boss at Sears, trying to get in touch with her. He had tried to buy the car from her earlier and wanted to make another offer. He was told that she had died. Donna's boss agreed to pass Eyear's interest in the car to her mother. Dorothy Brand called Eyears on December 16 and agreed to sell him the Coupe for $3,000,000 and reassured him that she and Donna's father were sole heirs to Donna's estate. Apparently Eyears had an arrangement with Steve Volk, president of the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, CO, to sell the Coupe to the museum for $3,750,000. But he did not sell it to Volk, instead he sold it to a private collector on the East coast, Fredrick Simone, a Philadelphia neurosurgeon. A legal fight over ownership of the car has broken out. When Goss learned of the sale, he went to the garage and to find that the car was gone. He retained an attorney to stop the sale of the car, and prove Donna gave him the Coupe. Goss has the title and the keys to the storage garage, the car is with the collector. Goss is being accused of taking the title illegally. Mrs. Brand has already given some the sale money to charities and other family members. Probate court has not settled Donna's estate yet so there are questions at to whether Mrs. Brand legally owned the car to be able to sell it to Eyears. Judge James Gray was quoted by the LA Times, "I'm going to challenge all of you and ask if you are not making this up. This smells from many standpoints." on March 6. Gray ordered the remaining $2,000,000 be held until ownership can be resolved. The hearing is set for April 17, 2001. Additional Information: Wallace Wyss, author of Shelby's Wildlife, sent me an email regarding the 4-17-01 hearing. Nothing was settled. Judge Gray was not happy that Mrs. Brand has not revealed where the $1,000,000 is that see reportedly gave away. Gray was also annoyed that Dr. Simone has not responded to any inquiries. And Gray set a date in October to reach a settlement if one is not reached prior. To add to the confusion, Phil Spector now says he never sold the car to Brand. That in fact he only gave it to Brand to store. Store it for 30 years? Maybe Shelby never sold it to Russell, either. OR THERE IS THIS VERSION The Missing Daytona Coupe Mystery Posted on January 14, 2007 I think it is the strangest automotive story I have ever heard. I’ll try to lay it out for you.
Back in 1964 Carol Shelby was tearing up the tracks in the US with his Cobra roadsters. Nothing had a chance. But on the European tracks with longer straights it was a different story. The roadster aerodynamics limited its top speed and the Ferrari’s would clean their clocks. In 1965 Shelby was intent on winning against Ferrari. Because Ferrari was allowed to enter a special version of their road car it opened the door for Carol Shelby to do the same. Fortunately he had Pete Brock on his payroll and Pete had studied aerodynamic texts that the Germans had put together from years of research. Pete also had a great eye for form and with the help of the Shelby crew they designed the Cobra Coupe. It was fantastic and the chassis number of the first one was CSX2287. Six were made in all. The design was so perfect it allowed Shelby to win against Ferrari, but Ford was intent on LeMans and wanted Shelby to devote his shop to the GT40. This left CSX2287 to get cleaned up and used on the public relations Cobra Caravan. It even spent some time on the Bonneville Salt Flats with Craig Breedlove and Bobby Tatroe setting 23 international and national speed records. Then it dissapeared. It would take thirty years to turn up again. Since Ford wanted Shelby to concentrate on the GT40, Carol put the coupes up for sale. The most he could get for any of them was about $4000 without engines and transmissoins. CSX2287 was sold first to Oscar Koveleski of Autoworld fame and then to Jim Russellof Russkit slot cars who converted it to street use (sort of) and sold it to none other than Phil Spector. Phil accumulated a lot of speeding tickets and also found the race car did not convert that well to the street, often becoming unbearably hot. Phil took it to a shop to see about further converting it to street use, but the mechanic told him it would cost tons of money and offered to scrap it for him for $800. Now here is where the story gets a little screwy. Some say that Phil sold it to his body guard for $1000 in 1971. The body guard, George Brand, then gave it to his daughter, Donna O’Hara, who stashed the car and wouldn’t tell anyone where it was or even admit that she had it. Donna got divorced in 1982 and she retained control of the car. In the last couple of years Robert Lavoie, an attorney representing Kurt Goss a childhood friend of donna’s, tried several times to buy it for half a million dollars, but she refused. On October 22, 2000, Donna went under a bridge Fulerton, CA, with her rabbits and a couple of bottles of gasoline. She poured the gasoline on herself and lit it off. It took her 15 hours to die and she wouldn’t even tell the police who she was. She just told them to “Shut up”. It took over a month for her to be identified when friends reported her disappearance. Goss claimed that she called him five days prior and told him that if anything happened to her he was to take care of her personal belongings. Goss said that she wanted him to have the coupe along with three other cars of hers. When he heard that Donna had died he contacted her mother and paid the outstanding storage charges expecting to remove the coupe. The owner of the storage center would not let Goss remove it without legal authority and Donna had no will. Meanwhile Martin Eyears, a rare car dealer from Montecito, tried to close a deal with Donna’s mother to buy it for $3,000,000. Donna’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and can’t help with the questions over ownership. So Martin decides to sell it to a collector on the east coast for $4,000,000. Then Phil Spector comes out and says he still owns the car. Phil claims that he neither sold nor gave the car away, and that he asked Brand to put it into storage for him. December 8, 2001, the legal battle ends. Kurt Goss has been determined to be the legal owner and Dorthy Brand is to pay him more than $800,000, since she sold the car. After estate and gift taxes Dorthy will end up with nothing according to her lawyer, Milford Dahl. I suspect the lawyer will pocket enough to put a couple of payments on that beach condo he owns in Malibu.

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