Dinner in Elko

Posted April 28, 2020

Photos: Barrett-Jackson, and courtesy of Wallace Wyss

**The following is a fictional piece submitted by reader Wallace Wyss**

He'd been sickly and worried about whether he'd be up to making the party. Now he admitted it was hard to think of a guy 6' 2" tall, energetic as all hell, runnin' a race program or two, sitting around in bed with a thermometer in his mouth.

But fact was he'd been born with a bum heart, and in fact now that transplants were more regular, he'd have to talk to that Doc in Texas that said he could do it, and tell him not to worry 'bout his age.

He dressed fast, took a cuppa hot java and went out to the garage.

CSX3015 was there, lookin real purty. Now there are some, whatd'ya call them purists, who said that since CSX3015 was one of only 23 427 competition roadsters built, he shouldn’t have modified it. I mean that big hood scoop, that was big enough for a tractor-trailer for Chrissake.

But he didn't have any qualms about modifying it. Truth was right from the get-go 427 Cobras weren't selling. The damned FIA had sent in an inspector in ’65 to count cars and where he was expectin' to find 100, he only found 48. Homologation as GT car denied. The guys at AC were buildin' 'em fast as they could, but there wasn't a prayer of getting Ford to assign another factory the job, because Ford was convinced only the mid-engine GT40 could beat Ferrari, so forget about that Cobra. Can we make that any clearer, cowboy?

That was in 1965 that they put the kibosh on it, Cobras weren't going to beat any prototype, he knew it. They knew it, so hell he might as well have some fun with it.

One of his marketing guys had come up with the idea how to move the unsold 427 Cobra competition cars. The comp didn't have mufflers, windshields, bumpers, etc. It was a race car only and not street legal. Now this guy's idea was to stick that street stuff back on and call it the S/C. It would be the meanest street Cobra because the 427 competition and S/C Cobras have different hips and noses.

He'd built two specials. One of ’em, CSX3303, was for Bill Cosby, a comic he had run into in the grocery store who said he only liked frou-frou Italian cars. Well, he said with a smile, fact is you're not man enough to drive a Cobra. Of course the comic said he was, so a week later he sent him over an S/C made into what he called a Super Snake.

To intimidate the comic, he had added a dash plaque that said it would do 200 mph. 'Course it scared the hell out of the man, who commemorated it in a comedy album, but sheepishly returned the car. A subsequent owner had let it get away from him and gone off a cliff.

That left the one in his garage. Although his factory at the airport had closed down and Cobra production stopped, he still had a crew to go through it, and they replaced the coded 1965 competition Girling CR and BR calipers, checked the competition 3.77 rear end with its original oil cooler and pumps and tuned the FE big block. He didn't bother with mufflers, he enjoyed the original headers feeding to the 4-inch diameter flat black side pipes. Reminded him of some fighters he'd flown during the war, when you could slide back the cockpit bubble in a P51-D and listen to that Merlin sing!

He got out of Los Angeles in an hour, the car almost overheating several times. Even with the two electric fans in the grille, it was not set up to drive in traffic.

He finally got on some two laners where he could open it up. There was one little berg on the way to Elko he liked to buzz through fast to wake up some guy that he'd been arguing with back when he was still racin'. He'd go through town at about 180, traffic permitting — and if he didn't throw a supercharger belt or catch on fire. The Snakes had a few problems, but to anybody who'd crash-landed a warplane in the desert, not once, but three times like him, this was no biggie. In a 427 Cobra, whatever happened engine-wise, you were still on the ground.

It was out in the middle of the desert, after buzzing the town at 100 plus, when he threw a belt. He didn't have time to fix it, because he knew they were fixin' to have one helluva wing ding up in Elko, including some strippers from Bella's Gentleman’s Club.

He'd just put his gloves on, and was fixin' to open the hood to see how bad it was, when Bob Estes pulled up in one of those sidewinder Lambos — Miura or something. Bob sold Lincolns and Mercurys but, in his heart, he liked exotic foreign cars.

Bob grinned and said, "Well, you comin' or not? " And he jerked open the trunk, grabbed his go-bag and shootin' iron and hopped in the lime green Muira. 'Course he knew when he got there he'd catch a lot of ribbin' on how could he leave the one surviving 427 S/C Super Snake lying on the shoulder of the road and take off.

Well, he'd be the last guy to name any names, but fact is is there are more important things in life than tendin' to hunks of steamin' metal. And they'd send a tow truck next town they got to.

Yessir, Shelby thought as Bob settled on a steady 160 mph, it was fixin' to be a damn fine day...

Wallace Wyss has authored three books on Ford GTs, Cobras and Shelbys and is currently looking for an agent for his suspense thriller Ferrari Hunters. He can be reached at photojournalistpro2@gmail.com. He also produces fine art on the topic of Shelbys, GT40s and other classics. Write mendoart7@gmail.com for a complete list.

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