Shelby Cobra: The Snake that Conquered the World is a coffee table book but not one that’s full of pretty pictures of cars—nobody every accused the Cobra of being pretty, except maybe for the Brock-designed Daytona coupe. It’s a book about the history of the Cobra but not a book about Carroll Shelby. To be sure, ‘Ol Shel is a big part of the story but the writer, whose friendly conversational tone pervades the book, also introduces us to other players on the stage from the obvious, Phil Remington, to the unsung heroes such as Ed Hugus. Nope, I didn’t know who Ed Hugos was until I read the book.
And while, except for the Daytona Coupes, Cobras were renown for their performance, not style, the book shows pictures of two models of the Borindat Cobra that were designed by Ford stylist Eugene Borindat. There are beautiful photographs of beautiful cars that are beautifully reproduced on the heavy art-quality paper that Shelby Cobra: The Snake that Conquered the World is printed on. It’s well work the asking price for the photographs alone.
And while I though I know a lot about Cobras, I was constantly learning new things about these legendary motorcars every time I turned a page. Like the tidbit that all 427 Cobras did not have 427 high performance engines; some were delivered with the 428 cubic inch models used in police interceptors. And one 427 Cobra owner was not amused by this and wrote a letter to Shelby America complaining about what he saw as “bait-and-switch.” His letter and the “send that nut the bug letter” reply from SA, is what you might expect and are printed here for your amusement. (I was amused anyway.) It turns out this unhappy buyer later replaced the motor with a real 427, because that’s the kind of Cobra fan he was.
Shelby Cobra: The Snake that Conquered the World contains not just the history of this iconic automobile; it is a valentine to the people and the idea that is the Shelby Cobra. If you are interested in the Cobra and want to know more about it’s birth and life, you need this book.