The Shelby Registry has historically made a distinction between official Shelby team racers and Cobras campaigned in competition by privateer owners, referring to the latter as Independent Competition Cobras. This 1964 Shelby Cobra 289, CSX2487, began its well-documented racing career after its first owner returned it to the dealer within a couple of months because it was “too much to handle.”
CSX2487 was invoiced to Shelby American on July 9, 1964, and shipped aboard the SS Loch Gowan to Los Angeles, where it was ordered by Hayward Ford Motors with Class A accessories (minus whitewall tires), a luggage rack, antifreeze and freight for a total of $5,501.55. It was purchased by L.G. Sullivan and registered with the Black plate “MKE 868.” After Sullivan returned the car in late 1964, it was purchased by Dick Pichinino, who arranged financing through the Lockheed Credit Union after convincing management—with considerable difficulty—that the Cobra was indeed a “bona fide automobile.” After painting the car white, Pichinino modified it for autocrossing, a hobby both he and his wife pursued enthusiastically for the next two years.
Consistent success on the autocross circuit led Pichinino to turn his eye to the more challenging and competitive road racing arena. The 289 was balanced and blueprinted, fitted with roller rockers, oversized valves, Weber downdraft carburetors and Nassau headers with straight-through side pipes. Shot-peened and balanced half shafts were installed, and 3.77 and 4.10 gearsets were procured; larger brake cylinders, Koni shocks, sway bars and other mods were added, and the car was lowered. Finished in white with a wide blue stripe, the newly prepared Cobra was completed with flared fenders, a hood scoop, racing windscreen and driver’s roll bar. Beginning in late 1967 and continuing through 1969, Pichinino raced the car mostly at Cotati, Laguna Seca and Sears Point, always with the then-popular phrase “Here Come Da Judge” splashed across the rear fenders.
CSX2487 compiled an admirable record as an independent racer. It won first place in A/Sports Racing at Laguna Seca with Al Norman at the wheel and showed well against professional competition in the inaugural Sears Point event in April 1969. Later that season, again at Sears Point, Pichinino drove the car to first in class and fourth overall after starting 12th on the grid; at Cotati he took CSX2487 to a documented 165 MPH. Throughout that time he also used it for the commute to the office, later declaring in a 2004 interview that he would “drive it to work on Thursday and win races with it on the weekends.” A close encounter with a Porsche at Sears Point put CSX2487 in the wall, injuring driver Al Norman and prompting Pichinino to retire the car from competition.
After a period of storage, Pichinino began restoring the car, which he had stripped down to its component parts. In 1989, it was purchased in its unassembled state by Scott McCluskey of Dubuque, Iowa, through Stauffer Classics of Wisconsin. CSX2487 was then purchased by Johnson Autohaus of Minnesota, which sold it to collector and vintage racer Robert Bodin of Wayzata, Minnesota. Bodin completed a comprehensive and well-documented restoration, during which time SAAC board member Rand E. Bailey convinced him to retain the Cobra’s original aluminum body—complete with evidence of its altercation with the Porsche at Sears Point—to maintain the car’s integrity.
After a series of business setbacks, Bodin reluctantly decided to sell CSX2487, advertising the car in December 1991 as “Best in the World, Independent Comp. Car.” Resplendent in Guardsman Blue with White stripes, 7.5- and 9.5-inch Halibrand wheels, an FIA scoop, quick jacks and updated racing equipment, the car was purchased by noted Midwest vintage racer John Constable, who maintained it in immaculate condition while competing at Road America, Blackhawk and the Milwaukee Mile. Among its many public appearances, it took first in class at the SAAC Northwood Region time trials in 1994; in 1997, it earned a Gold Standard award with a score of 438.5 of 450 points, and at SAAC-28 in Nashville, Tennessee, it won the People’s Choice Award.
Its next owner, Mike Henneberry of Watertown, Wisconsin, purchased CSX2487 in June 2002. One of very few Competition Cobras still with the original body, it exudes the air of a proud old warrior whose glory days included feasting on Corvettes (with the scars to prove it), yet it remains impeccable in presentation.
Long a crowd pleaser at Road America, select shows and SAAC meetings, Henneberry declares that of his personal collection of the best sports cars of the 1960s, CSX2487 is at “the top of the food chain.”
In 2013, CSX2487 was acquired by John Atzbach, who has lovingly maintained the Cobra in a climate-controlled environment along with the rest of its stablemates in his very impressive Shelby collection.
This documented Independent Competition Cobra is accompanied by important historical artifacts and period photographs from the 1960s.
Own one of the extremely few competition Cobras to retain its original body by bidding at Mecum’s Indy Auction, July 10th to 18th at the Indiana State Fairgrounds-
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