LMC is very proud to offer for sale this 1964 Shelby 289 Factory Competition Cobra
The car offered here is one of the rarest of all Cobras: a 'Factory-Prepared Full Competition Car', Only 38 Factory 289 ci Competition Roadsters were ever produced from 1962-1965 and have accounted for winning a substantial number of races all over North America backing up their reputation as a light, reliable, winning machine. Of those 38, only approximately 20 Cobra roadsters had raced under the Team Shelby American banner. This car was campaigned by “Gentlemen” racer Tom Payne and raced as a Factory Team Car by Shelby American in many events.
The infamous Tom Payne of Ann Arbor, Michigan, first started racing in 1954, when he first got behind the wheel of an Arnolt-Bristol whilst in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and Sebring. He then later raced a Porsche RS61 stateside before trying his hand at Formula Juniors. Interestingly, the ambitious young businessman even tried his hand at politics on two occasions, running for Congress in 1960 and 1962, which was a campaign that attracted John F. Kennedy, who visited Michigan during a “whistle-stop” tour and spoke on behalf of the young candidate.
Over the next 8 years Payne raced over a dozen different race cars in nearly 100 races before co-driving a Shelby Cobra owned by an acquaintance Dan Gerber. Payne first met Gerber at an SCCA race in Northern Michigan, where he hopped out of his RS61 and into Gerber’s Cobra, and from that moment he was instantly smitten!
Dan Gerber and Tom Payne’s belief in the Cobra’s ability on the track was so strong that they decided to become business partners selling Cobras in Michigan, becoming Gerber-Payne Ford.
Shelby American began work on Mr. Payne’s Cobra, building it into a factory-specification competition with its equipment list including but, not limited to; hood scoop, chrome roll bar, 6½-inch Halibrand front wheels (8½-inch at the rear), flared wings, Koni shocks, front and rear sway bars, competition brakes, quick-jack points, side pipes, dual long-range fuel tanks, Monza snap-open fuel cap, racing seat, Sun tachometer, fuel- pressure gauge, differential cooler, oil cooler, electric Stewart-Warner fuel pump, and an aluminum Harrison header tank. Of course, the soul of the roadster was a full race-specification 289ci V-8 that had Weber carburetors and 12:1 compression, which could deliver about 400 horsepower.
Once completed the car was billed to Ford Motorcar Company and delivered to Detroit in late July. Under the ownership and sponsorship of Ford, Payne campaigned the car through the 1964-1965 seasons with many races as a Shelby American Team entrant. Payne’s debut race was at the Greenwood raceway USRRC event, and his first victory came less than two weeks later at Waterford Hills SCCA Divisional in August of 1964. The season consisted of; Lyndale Farms, the extremely dangerous Meadowdale USRRC finishing 3rd, Mid-Ohio USRRC finishing 3rd, Kent Fields and Greenwood SCCA with a 1st overall in both events. Tom finished off the season racing in the Nassau Bahamas Speed Weeks. Payne had a remarkable 1964 season in America, in which, every race that he completed resulted in a podium finish. Payne was able to capture, three 1st place finishes throughout the season.
Tom Payne started off the 1965 season as a factory team driver racing the famous Daytona Coupes at Daytona, Sebring and The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the trifecta of endurance racing. The first event of the 1965 season for this Cobra was certainly Tom Payne’s most notable race. After showing up late in Canada for the 1965 Mont Tremblant Pepsi Cola Trophy races, with no time to change into his racing clothes, he piloted his car at breakneck speed whilst still donning the Glen Plaid suit and necktie with which he had left work! He was known as “Gentleman Tom” thereafter.
After much success at Tremblant the team travelled west to one of Motorsports most famous and challenging tracks, Mosport. After a disappointing DNF at Mosport, Payne headed back to Tremblant and scored a 1st place finish in both the Saturday and Sunday events. Ray Cumo and Tom Yeager took over the driving duties for the car at the next race at the Road America 500 where they finished 5th in class. The car’s next race was back across the border, returning to Tremblant finishing 1st in class for his fourth time of the season at the circuit.
At the end of the season, Payne and the crew headed back down to Nassau searching for better results than the previous year. Payne finished the first two preliminary races with 2nd and 3rd place finishes but, could not compete in the final 56 lap Nassau Trophy Race due to a fall in a warehouse nearby breaking his ribs. As a result, Bob Grossman who was an avid Ferrari racer decided to swap seats moving from his red Ferrari 250 GTO to the red Cobra for the final race. After winning both of his races earlier in the weekend, Grossman was sandwiched between a 250 GTO and 275 GTB/C Comp Speciale on the starting grid, the mockingly red Cobra and its Ferrari pilot managed to score a 1st in class and 5th overall beating out all the Blood red Ferraris. After this Bob Grossman was bit by the snake, sold his Ferrari 250 LM and purchased a full competition 427 Cobra which he placed 1st in class at the 1966 Sebring 12 Hours.
After the 1965 season, Shelby American supplied Tom Payne with a full competition 427 Cobra to race the following year. The car was then sold off to John “Scotty” Addison who campaigned the car through the 1966 season, kicking it off with the 12 Hours of Sebring resulting in an impressive 3rd in class. Scotty kept the car’s winning reputation going through the 1966 season by winning at least 4 events in class including the Road America Badger 200.
By 1967, the Cobra was sold to Dan Schlames who competed in several SCCA regional races in Michigan. Schlames placed the car for sale in late 1979 and was sold to Ken Eber; a principle of the Shelby American Automobile Club and astute Cobra collector. Eber then sold the car to Rick Nagel of Dallas Texas who has owned some of the most significant Shelby/Ford products including an original Daytona Coupe. In 1984, Nagel restored the car to original condition and entered it in the Texas Vintage Challenge with Carroll Shelby at the wheel taking home 1st place after Shelby’s long hiatus from his past racing glory. In the summer of 1985 Steven Volk, founder of the Shelby American Collection Museum purchased the car. Both founder and Museum are renowned for owning the most sought after 289 Team Cobra on the planet and an original GT40 MKIV. Bill Murray, one of the highest regarded Cobra restorers was selected to restore the car to concours condition. Steven Volk displayed the car for nearly 25 year at his museum surrounded by the most significant collection of Cobras and GT40s that has been assembled. Larry Bowman managed to pry the car loose from Volk in 2010. Bowman also had a staggering collection of only the best historical and original Cobras. Bowman sold the car in 2013 to a collector in Europe before the car was purchased by Legendary Motorcar Company in 2018.
This Cobra is an extremely original Factory Full Competition Cobra with outstanding race results competing as a Factory Entrant by Team Driver Tom Payne. The combination of originality and victories in period are extremely rare and integral components for any car to the sophisticated collector. Over the 1964 and 1965 season this car was configured in many variations, including a USRRC cut-down windshield, a full windshield, Dual USRRC and single style side exhaust, all documented in detailed period photos. All of these versions are period correct and true to the car and can be transferred easily depending on the driving environment as was done in period. It comes complete with a large binder of Documentation, Magazine articles and over 100 period photos from 1964-1965, (original manual) and has also been featured in many important Shelby Books and articles. Rarely does a Factory Full Competition Cobra of this caliber with this impressive race history ever become available.
Watch our Youtube video discussing the history of this special Cobra: