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						Ollie The Dragon
Ode to Ollie the Dragon

Kirkham Cobra honors CSX3009, the Essex Wire 427

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay and by By Jaydec at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

The history of the Shelby Cobra is so diverse and well celebrated that it comes as no surprise that several cars are referred to as the “winningest” Cobras ever. 427 S/C No. CSX3035, 289 car CSX2473 and even a 289 ci Dragonsnake CSX2093 have all been credited as the most successful Cobras in one form or another, as has this car — CSX3009. This of course isn’t CSX3009, but a beautiful alloy re-creation of the original — a 427-powered racer campaigned by Essex Wire in 1965. To understand what makes the Essex Wire livery worthy of imitation, let’s dive into a quick history of a scrappy Cobra known as Ollie the Dragon.

Essex Wire was one of the largest providers of magnet wire for the automotive, industrial and energy industries in the 1960s, and they partnered with Ford to go auto racing as a means to promote their brand. The choice to partner with Ford was an easy one, seeing as the Cobra was one of the most sensational cars of the day, and Ford sourced a large volume of wiring assemblies and components from Essex. By the best information on the web, Essex campaigned a GT40 and a Cobra roadster in 1965, and the GT40 alone in 1966.

Essex selected Fred Krammer to lead the project, who was the Essex Account Executive for Ford, and Krammer’s right hand man was rookie driver Skip Scott. Scott was great behind the wheel himself, and had learned from Shelby’s Ken Miles. The team received CSX3009 and found it to be a fantastic race car that went like hell in a straight line. In cornering however, it’s said that 3009 didn’t exhibit the best braking performance. The brutish power from the 427 ci engine was enough to make up for most any faults though. The team would go on to nickname the car Ollie the Dragon, because if you didn’t modulate the throttle just right on initial startup, the car would shoot a couple feet of flames out of the hood scoop.

Ollie The Dragon1

CSX3009 was predominantly piloted by Dr. Dick Thompson, Skip Scott and Ed Lowther through the 1965 season, posting podium finishes in Pensacola, Watkins Glen, Road America and Bridgehampton. Although the Essex car performed well through most of the year, Dick Thompson didn’t have much luck over the last few months of 1965, capped off with a pair of DNFs at Nassau.

But that wasn’t the end for CSX3009, and the car was purchased by Ed Lowther and campaigned sparingly through the rest of the 1960s. It then reappeared in the 1970s wearing unique white and green paintwork and a low, full-width green windscreen. It was piloted by Sam Feinstein in those years and was quite competitive in SCCA racing for a 10-year-old car. Last we heard CSX3009 had been restored to its ’65 Essex configuration and was shown at the Cobra Experience in Martinez, California as recently as 2019.

While I doubt that CSX3009 has a real claim to the title of “winningest Cobra roadster,” it definitely has great significance to Shelby competition history and is worth celebrating — not to mention the visual appeal of black and orange over Wimbledon white. This Kirkham 289 FIA Cobra on eBay wears the Essex colors well and boasts an aluminum alloy body and Weber 48 carburetors. It’s powered by a 500 hp Ford 302 small-block stroked to 331 ci with aluminum heads. A Richmond T-10 sends power to the rear, and blacked-out FIA wheels are mounted on all-four corners.

The elephant in the room is of course that the original Essex Wire car was a ’65 427 model, while this car is configured visually and mechanically as a 289 FIA racer. But that’s no sweat in my opinion, as the Essex shades on this car make for a really strong presence. And it’s not over done with the numerals and Essex logos either, meaning you can choose to embrace that identity or let the car speak for itself. I also think it’s cool to imagine if Essex had gone racing a year earlier, as this Kirkham re-creation is probably what that would have looked like.

This Kirkham Cobra has just 750 miles on the clock and is offered by here Hubbard Auto Center in Scottsdale, Arizona for $149,000.

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