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Shelby Daytona Coupe vs. Grand Sport Corvette


Z-man

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DSC_0167-1.jpg

 

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Link to Photobucket picture album (320 images). Daytona Coupe starts on page 5.

http://s438.photobucket.com/albums/qq106/z-man1234/Simeone%20Museum/

 

Link to Simeone Museum

http://www.simeonefoundation.org/

 

This past Saturday, I attended a “Demonstration Day” at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia. The Museum houses the automotive collection of Dr. Simeone, a well known Philadelphia neurosurgeon.

 

This particular Saturday they were “Demonstrating” a Cobra Daytona Coupe (the infamous ex-Phil Spector car), and the newest addition to the collection, a Grand Sport Corvette Roadster. Typically, Dr. Simeone talks about the cars being demonstrated, then they start them up and drive them on a 3 acre paved lot behind the museum, so that you can experience the cars ‘at speed’ (or at least as much speed as 3 acres allows). Unfortunately, it snowed here on Saturday, so the cars didn’t go outside, but they did move them to a large open area inside the museum where you could walk around and get very close to the cars, and the did start them up so we could hear them.

 

The Grand Sport, being the new addition to the collection, was given ‘center stage’ and it was obvious the vast majority of the people who ventured out in the snow, were there to see the Corvette. Multiple Corvette clubs were there, as represented by their hats, jackets, and T-shirts. I proudly stood in the middle of them wearing my Cobra Team ‘bowling shirt’. I saw a few other Shelby guys were there (GT500 t-shirts) and we somehow all managed to congregate in the same area as Dr. Simeone began his dissertation on the two cars, beginning with the Grand Sport. I have to tell you, the car is impressive. It is one of five (and one of only two roadsters). It was originally owned by Rodger Penske. The gentleman who purchased it from Penske, realized how significant the car was, but he still wanted to race it without damaging it…..so he had a spare body and engine built to the original GM specs/design. The museum has these items as well.

 

Anyway, as Dr. Simeon began to tell the history of the Grand Sports, he talked about all the potential the cars had, but that they never really lived up to what they could have been. The main reason being that the nose of the car was shaped like an airfoil, and as the cars accelerated, the front end of the car would begin to lift off the ground, and you would loose all steering control. I expect that was quite unnerving at triple digit speeds!

 

By contrast, he then moved over to the Daytona Coupe, to show all the Corvette guys a “correctly” designed racing car of the same time period. He said, “This is what a winner looks like.” I don’t think most of the GM fans were too happy with him at that point, but he went on to validate his statement. He spoke of a young Pete Brock, and how he designed the car incorporating a very low front end and a Kamm read end design. He mentioned that the Cobra had only had a 289 cid engine, while the Grand Sports had 427’s, but that the Cobra’s aerodynamics were superior, as evidenced by it’s many race wins versus the Grand Sports.

 

After the lecture, the cars were started (the Grand Sport was much louder than the Cobra, and much more ‘cammy’), then the hoods were opened up to show off the engines. After taking many pictures, I asked if they could open the drives door of the Daytona so that I could get some interior photos; they kindly obliged my request. The first thing I noticed was how lightweight and fragile the car is. If you leaned on the door, not only would you bend the hinges, you would probably break it right off the car. The driver’s seat does not face directly forward, but is noticeably canted to the left to clear the transmission tunnel. The other Shelby guys and I were picking out parts of the Daytona that were also common to the ‘standard’ cobra’s (door latches, AC floor pedals) when we noticed a license plate wedged into the passenger side door panel. The caretaker of the Daytona had not noticed it before (?) and reached into the car and pulled it out. It was an original Shelby Manufacture’s plate (MFG 013) from the 1960’s. The last digit on the registration tag was impossible to read, but the 1, 9, & 6, were clearly visible. We started to guess who may have handled this plate in the past….Mr. Shelby, Peter Brock, Phil Hill, Bob Bondurant, or even Phil Spector.

 

To stand right beside this car, and to carefully lay your hand on its fender, is an experience that can only be understood by someone who reveres it as a piece of art, and a piece of history. I guess if you are reading this, it is a safe assumption that you are one of those people who will understand. Needless to say, I had an awesome time.

 

In addition to the Daytona Coupe and the Grand Sport(s), the collect has a few other cars that the Shelby enthusiast may be interested in. There are two GT40’s, a 1966 Mark II and a 1967 Mark IV. Our guide asked if anyone would like to step over the railing to take a closer look at them…..like he needed to ask??? The Mark II is fully restored, but the Mark IV is as raced. Part of the philosophy of Dr. Simeone’s collection is that a car is only original once, and if you restore it, it looses some of its history and ‘patina’ that makes it what it is. For this reason, the Daytona Coupe will not be cosmetically restored, and will glory in its well earned rock chips and battle scars. (It has been mechanically gone over, and was described to me as very reliable and a joy to drive…I’ll bet!). Also on display was a 1958 Aston Martin DBR1, which was raced by many noteworthy drivers, including Stirling Moss, Jim Clarke, and Mr. Shelby himself. Other notable cars include the largest collection of Alfa Romeo Type 8’s in the World (I believe), the only Bugatti type 35 I have ever seen that is not “French Blue” (this one was brown), a pontoon fendered 1958 Ferrari Testa-Rosa (the only one made with a removable nose section), a 1930 4.5 liter Bently Blower (the supercharger stuck out the front of the car, was huge, and produced only 15 additional horsepower…and it took 7 horsepower to drive it), a really neat English roadster I had never seen before called a 1933 Squire (only 12, possibly les, were built), and SOOOO much more.

 

Do yourself a favor, and check out the Simeon Museums website, and visit them if you are in the Philadelphia area. You will not be disappointed.

 

Check out my photos at Photobucket.com, and let me know what you think.

 

Z-man

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Give me a Daytona Coupe any day...but a friend of mine (GM guy) pointed out to me, and maybe it has some validity, that Shelby had the full backing and support ($$ and engineering) of Ford Motor Co. in designing and racing his cars, while the Grand Sport team did not have any GM backing. I don't know if that's factual or not....

 

Also, it's apparent that the Grand Sport is based upon the production Corvette, which the Daytona Coupe is pretty much a ground-up design.

 

So...it this, in reality, a fair comparison? I don't know...just askin'....

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Give me a Daytona Coupe any day...but a friend of mine (GM guy) pointed out to me, and maybe it has some validity, that Shelby had the full backing and support ($$ and engineering) of Ford Motor Co. in designing and racing his cars, while the Grand Sport team did not have any GM backing. I don't know if that's factual or not....

 

Also, it's apparent that the Grand Sport is based upon the production Corvette, which the Daytona Coupe is pretty much a ground-up design.

 

So...it this, in reality, a fair comparison? I don't know...just askin'....

 

 

Essentially, you are correct. The Grand Sports were GM skunkworks cars to the fullest extent. GM had a ban on racing involvement in those days, and when they found out about the Grand sports, they killed the project and ordered the cars to be crushed. They guys who built them didn't have the heart to see them destroyed, so they snuck them out the 'back door".

 

I not sure how much Ford backed Shelby in the design of the Daytona Coupe. Certainly not from an Engineering support point of view, as it was all Pete Brock's design. Mr. Shelby did have his design checked over by some Aeronautical Engineers, to get their impression of the aerodynamics. The Engineers told him it was all wrong, would never work , and would probably be slower than the Cobra roadsters. Mr. Shelby had faith in Pete's design, and built it as Pete drew it. Guess those Engineers were the same group who argue that bumble bee's, theoretically speaking, should not be able to fly. (I can make that joke because I am an Engineer.)

 

Is it a fair to compare both the cars to each other. Well, there are of the same vintage. The Grand Sports were build specifically to try and beat the Cobra's. The under-pinnings of the Daytona Coupes are identical to the Cobra roasters, only the body work is different (any other changes would have disqualified it from its racing classification). So you tell me....apples to apples, or did an orange sneak in there when I wasn't looking?

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I love the Daytona Coupe and always have. Thaks so much for posting those photos, but seeing an original '013' black Calif. plate is an even bigger treat. I've so often seen that plate (or another like it) in so many photos of the Daytonas in competition. I can't imagine what it would bring should one actually come up for sale/auction.

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I love the Daytona Coupe and always have. Thaks so much for posting those photos, but seeing an original '013' black Calif. plate is an even bigger treat. I've so often seen that plate (or another like it) in so many photos of the Daytonas in competition. I can't imagine what it would bring should one actually come up for sale/auction.

 

 

 

HD Theater (Direct TV Chl 281) has been showing "America's Greatest Race Car" which is a one hour documentary of the Daytona Coupe. It is a great history lesson. Mr. Brock describes the shape and air flow design intent of the body shape and comments on the engineer's review mentioned above. I just checked and did not see an "Upcomming Event" listed for this video but they do replay it from time to time.

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Dr. Simeone did a demo day on May 23, 2009 with his Daytona Coupe and 2 GT40's. I did an article for the Shelby American magazine about my visit.

 

CaptDave

 

 

Capt'n -

 

I must give credit where it is due. I recall your posts of last year about your visit to the museum. Since then, I have been waiting for another "Demo Day" featuring the Daytona Coupe. If you had not posted about your visit, it is highly possible, I would not have know about these events, and my visit of this past weekend would not have occurred.

 

Thank you for your original post!

 

Z-man

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Awesome thread and thanks for the plenty of pics of those beautiful cars....especially the Daytona.

 

Gives me inspiration to finish mine.

 

 

 

Fia -

 

Okay...spill the beans...whose replica is that, and what motor are you putting in it? I have always wanted to build a "tribute" Cobra. There are allot of 427 roadsters running around, and I want to be different, so I was thinking a 289 FIA Cobra, in full race prep trim including Webber carbs (given your screen name, I assume you would approve). Then I saw a few companies offering Daytona Coupes. This only complicates things for me.

 

Decisions, decisions...... :banghead:

 

Z-man

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Z-man,

 

Yes, I would most definitely approve. I would build a FIA 289 Roadster also but, I always had a soft spot for the Coupe. Plus, living in the N/E, I get longer seat time driving it. My "Perfect" garage would have a Daytona Coupe, FIA Cobra roadster, and a GT-40 sitting inside.

 

About the coupe: The car has a custom made tubular chassis with a roll cage. The body is by "Shell Valley". Out of all the manufactures, Shell Valley makes the best bodies (IMO) and they resemble one of the original coupes pretty close. The CSM # of that coupe slips my mind at the moment.

Anyway, the car will be close to an original as practical. The differences would be the 9" rear that's in my car, the 6 spd Tremec TR-6060 from a GT-500, and a 1968 302cu.

As of now, the car is a rolling chassis with the rear installed. The trans is in a crate ready to go. The engine needs rebuilding and i'll do that last after the car is completely together and painted. I'll most likely go the fuel injected route with the new F.I. weber set up that resembles the original weber carbs.

The coupe project is something i'm going to do with my lil' guy. He's 6 now and ready to turn some wrenches.

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Z-man,

 

Yes, I would most definitely approve. I would build a FIA 289 Roadster also but, I always had a soft spot for the Coupe. Plus, living in the N/E, I get longer seat time driving it. My "Perfect" garage would have a Daytona Coupe, FIA Cobra roadster, and a GT-40 sitting inside.

 

About the coupe: The car has a custom made tubular chassis with a roll cage. The body is by "Shell Valley". Out of all the manufactures, Shell Valley makes the best bodies (IMO) and they resemble one of the original coupes pretty close. The CSM # of that coupe slips my mind at the moment.

Anyway, the car will be close to an original as practical. The differences would be the 9" rear that's in my car, the 6 spd Tremec TR-6060 from a GT-500, and a 1968 302cu.

As of now, the car is a rolling chassis with the rear installed. The trans is in a crate ready to go. The engine needs rebuilding and i'll do that last after the car is completely together and painted. I'll most likely go the fuel injected route with the new F.I. weber set up that resembles the original weber carbs.

The coupe project is something i'm going to do with my lil' guy. He's 6 now and ready to turn some wrenches.

 

FIA -

 

Sounds like you and I have the same taste in the proper way to fill a three car (or should I say "three Shelby") garage.

 

I have looked at the offerings from Factory 5. They make a nice Daytona, and a Cobra roadster, but not a 289 FIA variant. I am also in the North East/Mid Atlantic region, so your comment about more seat time in the Coupe makes sense to me.

 

The problem with doing any of these replica's (or any work on my GT500, for that matter) is that I am a perfectionist and admittedly one picky SOB....even when critiquing my own work. It would probably take me years to get it done perfect enough that it wouldn't drive me crazy. Evey time I would look at the car, I would know there was a small paint run up inside the rear passenger fender lip, and even thought nobody else in the World would ever see it, it would bug me.

 

That said, I still want to build one. When I go insane, can't take it anymore, and my wife has me committed, someone will get a good deal on a half built "tribute car". :angry22:

 

Z-man

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FIA -

 

That 289 on the Unique website is very close to what I had in mind...thanks!

 

However, I fear have hijacked my own thread! :doh: I suggest you start a separate topic on the build up of your Daytona. I would be very interested to see how it progresses.

 

To get us back on track, I offer the following:

 

May 22 Demonstration Day

“Great Cars, Great Drivers”

1958 Aston-Martin DBR1 (Stirling Moss and Jim Clark, among others...including Mr.Shelby)

Ford Mk IV (Denny Hulme and Lloyd Ruby)

Maserati 300S (Jean Behra)

 

Also, If you register on line for their newsletter, you will be able to cast your vote for your two favorite cars to be "Demonstrated" in November. I think my choices would be the Daytona Coupe and the 1966 Mark II GT40....but you could pick any two cars from this collection at random, and not have a bad combination.

 

If you do go, make sure you stay for the guided tour after demonstrations are over. When I went the Corvette clubs had a private tour, so the afternoon tour ended up with only about 15 people in it :dance: . Our tour guide was Harry Hurst, who led us on an hour and a half excursion through the history America's involvement in racing. He was excellent, very accommodating, and seemed to linger just a little longer at the cars that Shelby built., or was somehow connected with (like the Aston Martin DBR1). Maybe it was because I was standing front and center, wearing my Shelby Team shirt, with a huge grin on my face.

 

Z-man

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