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The Cobra Ferrari Wars 1963 – 1965

Second Edition

This second edition has been delayed a decade because the original printer lost the production films circa 1995. By that time, I had returned the original prints, slides, transparencies, drawings, and artifacts to their owners, as well as given away the few that were mine. I had even given away my address book and correspondence. I knew it would take months to reassemble this material -- time and energy I did not have -- and that some material was not retrievable. Now, 10 years later, it is even less possible.
I have agreed to do a second edition only because advances in digital scan technology now make a high-quality copy possible, based upon a mint-original first edition. For this technology and for re-typesetting the entire text, I thank Walter Kellner, who did the color separations in the first edition. Because of the inevitable degradation of second-generation visuals, I have priced this second edition at one-half the inflation adjusted price of the original. This second edition incorporates minor text corrections on 40 pages. For many of these, I credit Willem Oosthoek, a careful and knowledgeable reader.
Since the first edition, I have spoken with former team members Gary Koike, Jim Culleton (both now deceased), and John Collins about the '64 Daytona fire. John Collins recalls Culleton filling the differential with motor oil, but believes he had been instructed to do so. Koike places the blame on the then-team manager Ken Miles, while Peter Brock lays the blame on Shelby himself. No matter, as per Gary Koike, "Jim...was a fine mechanic and a fine man."
Since the first edition I have also softened my view of Enzo Ferrari. One must remember that Ferrari was a totally self-made man, supported by no one but his customers and what he could turn out the door. He used the tools he had at hand. In contrast, the team Cobras was 100% reimbursed by Ford. As an entrepreneur and industrialist, Ferrari merits respect. Also since the first edition, automobiles have changed. Ferrari now builds several models whose performance surpasses that of the original GTO, as do other manufacturers in this modern world.
What has not changed, but rather intensified, is the legend of Shelby American because, as Shelby states in the Introduction: "[W]e all pretty well worked together. We could fight together, but we were all fighting for the same end result. And, as he told me later: "The most fun in the world is helping someone who really needs it. It is the greatest feeling in the world." This is a Cinderella story of good old American teamwork, an adventure of brave men and not scoundrels. The Cobra story stands out even more today, in an increasingly contrived and propagandized America. Mainstream media could never create such a story and, I am sure, they never will.

Michael L. Shoen, December 2005


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