Building the First Cobra, 1962

Amazing what you can find on the internet. While looking for a photo of Carroll Shelby for our post on his passing, I came across some terrific historical photos that you probably haven’t seen before. Dave Friedman has had a six decade long career as a motorsports photographer. You’ve undoubtedly seen his work, since Friedman was Ford Racing’s staff photographer during the glory years of 1966-67. He probably got that job from contacts made while earlier working in the same capacity for a small California company, Shelby American. The Benson Ford Research Center houses a collection of Friedman’s work, which includes photos of just about every significant North American race and venue in the 1960s. The Benson Ford Research Center is one of The Henry Ford Museum’s institutions and is on the campus of the Museum and Greenfield Village. The Friedman photographic collection also includes work he did for Carroll Shelby, including a set of 64 photos that document the construction of the first Shelby Cobra in 1962.

The 260 cubic inch V8 being installed appears to be the first high performance version of that engine, with XHP-260-1 painted on a valve cover, most likely for “experimental high performance”. Much of the Friedman collection has been digitized and placed on Flickr by the museum and you can see the complete set of photos of the first Cobra being built here. By the way, that’s Ol’ Shel himself in the photo above, with his hands in his pockets, supervising the work.

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