Spending time in Carroll’s Venice racing garage whenever he could, Peter realized that given the wealth of driving talent on the Shelby team, his dream of professional racing may take a back seat. But there was a more pressing issue that demanded his attention. By the end of the 1963 season, it was apparent that the 289 Cobra roadster needed a roof to compete and win down the straightaways of the high speed European circuits. Shelby was at a vital crossroads.
Shelby American initially fitted a hardtop on the existing Shelby Cobra roadster for aerodynamic purposes. While somewhat successful, Carroll Shelby dreamed of building a faster version of the car for international racing.Competition rules stated that a team could change a car’s chassis or body, but not both. Many on the team wanted to alter the Cobra’s engineering. Peter and Carroll Shelby saw a different opportunity, and it would change automotive design forever.
Peter’s inspiration was a paper he found several years before. It was a study of aerodynamics done by Dr. Wunibald Kamm in Germany in the late1930s, and it captivated Peter’s imagination. While he couldn’t read the text, he understood the drawings, which went against everything designers thought they knew about airflow. Peter’s intention was to adapt these aerodynamic ideas for Shelby. He knew that reducing the drag of the car could lead to a major speed gain more than increasing horsepower. Indeed the calculations showed that the car would need 500hp to reach 180mph.
The next day, Peter taped paper sheets to the garage floor and began sketching. Slowly, the unforgettable shape emerged: rounded front, fairly flat roof, tapered width and a chopped tail to improve downforce as well signify a permanent break with the teardrop shape of conventional race design. The result was the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, a GT car with a style the world had never seen before. Its design was so radical that no one, including aviation experts, thought the car would work. But Carroll wanted a secret weapon for the 1964 season, and gave the go ahead.
After working with Ken Miles to build a plywood model to smooth out the aesthetics, the Shelby team began together to rapidly assemble a prototype. In only 90 days, design and engineering worked around the clock to meet the competition deadline. The most aerodynamic car in America, powered by the workhorse Cobra 289 engine. Now it was time to see if the Daytona would fly.
Celebrating courage and ambition is at the heart of the new Clifton Club Shelby Cobra watches. It is a statement of arrival for those who believe no goal is out of reach, and maintain the relentless drive to accomplish the impossible. With its bold signature touches and elegant sense of purpose, this is a series of chronographs that celebrate life’s special achievements, as reflected in the innovation and passion of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe.