17-18 August 2012

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Lot 118

1965 Shelby 289 Cobra Mk II

  • Chassis no. CSX 2356

Sold for $792,000

271 hp, 289 cu in OHV V-8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, ladder-type steel tubing chassis with independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs and tube shock absorbers, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90"

• One lady owner from new, with fully documented history

• California black plate car; parked in 1987 with 38,762 original miles

• Includes rare factory hardtop, side-curtains, tonneau, some tools, and original spare tire

Carroll Shelby’s 1962 Cobra roadster represents the pinnacle of Anglo-America sports cars. At 37, Shelby was winding up a successful racing career, which peaked in 1959, when he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin. He became the Goodyear Racing Tire distributor for the western U.S. in 1961 and started his own racing school at Riverside Raceway in California.

Shelby asked GM to sell him a small block Chevrolet V-8, but “The General” didn’t want to subsidize Corvette competition. It was a bad mistake. When Ford engineer Dave Evans offered Shelby a couple of 260-cubic inch high-performance motors designed for the Falcon Sprint, the die was cast. Shelby flew to England on February 1, 1962 to test the new AC Cobra and then navigate it into legend.

CSX 2356 was first shipped to Detroit as a factory demonstrator in 1964 and registered by the Ford Motor Company. Eight months later, and showing 3000 miles, it was virtually “remanufactured” by Shelby American, including mostly new body panels, and sold by Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, as a new 1965 model in May of that year, to its first private owner, Flora L. Darling, who owned it until her death in 2012 at age 81.

The late Carroll Shelby would have loved Flora Darling. When she picked up her Cobra from Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, the salesman said, “That’s a mighty fast car, Ma’am. Who’s going to drive it home for you?”

She looked him straight in the eye and said, “I am. Why do you think I bought it (you fool)?” With that, she peeled out of the dealership and roared up the Grapevine to Bakersfield, where the car remained in her hands for 47 years.

“My great-aunt was a trailblazer,” said her niece Debra Redwine. “I’ve known that Cobra all my life. I remember, I was five years old when she bought it. I was playing in the front yard when she pulled up and said, ‘Want to come for a ride?’”

And it’s true that Darling was a remarkable woman. The youngest of six children who came to California from Texas during the Dust Bowl, she served in the Air Force during the Korean War, and then put herself through college, gaining a degree in anthropology. She bought her own house in 1956 and lived there for 55 years. Darling operated the Shafter Medical Laboratory in Bakersfield and traveled to the Third World on relief missions. She ran a motorcycle shop (and rode one) and a paint shop. Flora Darling was a competitive shooter and an archer who belonged to the Society for Creative Anachronism. The year after she bought the Cobra, Darling got a pilot’s license and bought her own plane. She was even a published author and a poet, a silversmith, and a fine arts painter, whose work fills Debra’s house in Crescent City, California.

Sadly, after her husband died in 1987, Mrs. Darling never again drove the Cobra. It was put away in her dusty garage under two car covers, where it remained. Neighbors’ inquiries were turned away with, “it’s just a piece of junk.”

Recently uncovered, CSX 2356 still retains its original California black plates in their original ‘Hi Perfomance Motors’ frames and numerous California registration slips, as well as the original FoMoCo Michigan registration. Also included with the car are its original spare, jack and handle, mallet, grease gun, and two vinyl bags, one with miscellaneous tools, and side curtains for both the hard and soft tops. However, the original soft top may never be found. The Cobra was repainted in the 1970s, and the seats were re-upholstered at that time.

This complete and correct Cobra has its original ignition key, hood latch T-handle key, and its etched “Cobra” sun visors and wind wings are intact. As a final remembrance of Flora Darling, her dusty 1960s Ray-Ban sunglasses remain in the glove box. As an extraordinary time-warp, this Cobra is presented exactly as found and will not be started before the sale. The new owner will have the pleasure of bringing it back to life, knowing that its distinctive exhaust note has not been heard for 24 years.


Please note that recent information provided by the Ned Scudder of the SAAC World Registry attests that lot 118 received only minor body work and was given a full repaint by Shelby American before the acquisition by Flora Darling. Prior to the repaint only minor dents and scratches were removed - the body remains completely intact as it was originally built.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more