CAMERON — Hollis Lewis of Cameron bought an original 1962 Shelby A.C. Cobra in January 1976 in Ogden, Utah.
The Cobra was the 61st of around 1,100 Cobras manufactured by the British firm AC Cars in Thames Ditton, Surrey, and Shelby American from 1962 to 1967.
The Cobra was one of 70 equipped with a 260 cubic inch V-8 motor, which it still has as well as the Ford T-10 transmission. After that, they came with a 289 Ford engine followed by the powerful 427.
Lewis’ Cobra had all of the original parts when he bought it. The Cobra was considered the fastest vehicle made in America in its day.
His vehicle, weighing 2,000 pounds, was first purchased by auto dealer Bill Grant Jr. of St. Petersburg, Fla., for $5,531.17 with a retail sticker of $6,600.55 and serial number of CSX 2061.
Tom Cahill road tested the Cobra in 1963 and was featured on the cover of Mechanix Illustrated.
Even though Lewis’ prized Cobra had all of the original parts, he decided to have the car restored in 2011 because of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Cobra at the Monterey, Calif., historical automobile races in August 2012, when the original Cobras were recognized. Lewis raced his car there in 1978.
He took it to veteran classic car restorer Jeff Snyder at Jeff’s Resurrections and Restoration in Taylor.
Snyder and his eight-man crew spent at least 1,800 hours, restoring the Cobra with original parts and interior leather, literally reworking every nut and bolt over 18 months.
“They disassembled that car and cleaned every part,” Lewis said. “They even took out the heater, which you couldn’t even see, disassembled, rebuilt it and repainted it.
“Since we restore a lot of British cars, we are familiar with those cars because it’s a British car with an American engine and transmission,” Snyder said. “The rest of car was built in Thames Ditton, England, outside of London. It had its challenges. The little squirters on the windshield washers were pretty difficult to find. We found a source in England.
“What parts we couldn’t find for Mr. Lewis’ car, we had made,” Snyder said. “All of the fasteners on his car are either the original fasteners to the car or the original type. It’s a spectacular car. His car is a piece of rolling artwork as far as I’m concerned.
“When we restore cars, as we take them apart, if we notice inspection marks, we even put the inspection marks back on. The detail makes the difference. It’s all the detail.”
Snyder’s attention to every detail had them going to England to find windshield washer squirters the same as those that originally came with the car instead of using those from a Jaguar XKE that would go unnoticed by an untrained eye.
Also installed was a glass container for windshield washer fluid because plastic containers were not used until 1963, Lucas headlights and an original 1962 timing cover on the engine, found in New Jersey.
Snyder’s attention to every detail to restore Lewis’ Cobra with original parts earned the car the top award in the non-competition class at the recent invitation-only Concours D’elegance of Texas at the La Torretta Resort on Lake Conroe.
“I beat out a 427 Cobra formerly owned by Jan, of Jan and Dean fame, and then later by Rod Stewart. It’s not Pebble Beach, but they are trying to get there,” Lewis said. “There was the 427 Dragon Snake that was the National Hot Rod Association record holder and Mark Donahue’s Shelby GT 350 race car at the show, plus a lot of other great cars.”
Lewis said another feature that helped his Cobra was that one judge was familiar with the early 260 Cobras and its original parts.
“It surprised me,” Lewis said of the best of class honor. “I knew my car was nice. The red and white Cobra was more eye-catching, but it wasn’t as detailed and the condition was not as good as mine.
“Before, it was the fun of owning the car, driving it hard, racing it and having a good time with it,” Lewis said. “Now it’s like you preserved a piece of automobile history. You’ve taken care of it. You want it to look perfect, but every time you get in and out of it you have to be so careful you don’t bend anything because it’s all aluminum body. You can’t lean on it.
“The selection affirms the hard work that went into it to make it look so good. It’s like a brand new car. Everything was rebuilt.
Shelby built 50 Cobras in 2012, each sold for $250,000 “and they looked exactly like my car.”
“It’s the most copied automobile ever made,” Lewis said. “There are probably 25 manufacturers who built replicas of Shelby’s Cobra. Shelby, a Texan, won the world’s championship in 1965 with a Cobra. He always wanted to take a big V-8 and stick it in a lightweight European