1963 AC Cobra “The Hairy Canary”

Continuous history from new, one of the most original & most raced competition Cobras

In 1963, Richard ‘Dick’ J Neil Jr  was a young man who wanted to go racing. In his early twenties, he already had an AC Cobra, a Mk1 260. He had graduated race training at the Connecticut wing of the Sports Car Club of America drivers’ school, and intended to ship the Cobra from Los Angeles to Hawaii. However, the drive across America was dogged by breakdowns, and by the time he got to LA, he was ready to throw in the towel. Carroll Shelby, recognizing a young man’s enthusiasm (and the chance to make a quick buck) offered to take his current Cobra in part exchange for the latest, brand new, rack-and-pinion model. And so, on the 29th  August 1963, Carroll Shelby sold CSX 2151 to Dick, taking CSX 2005 as part payment. This made CSX 2151 the first car delivered for competition use with rack and pinion steering and a 289 cubic inch engine.

Dick immediately shipped the Cobra back to his home in Honolulu, Hawaii, and continued to upgrade to race specification.  After his first outing, he gained sponsorship from DynaGlaze and painted the car yellow, after which it gained the affectionate and notorious title of “Hairy Canary”!  Dick raced extensively in Hawaii and in his first year, 1963, he won the Hawaiian Grand Prix cup competing against the team cars of Bob Holbert and Ken Miles.  In 1964 & 1965 he finished respectively 5th overall, 2nd in Class and 2nd overall, 1st in class.  He set the lap record at Hawaii Raceway Park in 1966, a record that lasted well into the 70’s.  Dick moved to British Columbia in 1965 and continued to race in both the British Columbia club and SCCA events.

In 1971, Dick Neil sold CSX 2151 to Garry Houser who campaigned it at Westwood and other tracks in British Columbia and Washington State.  He broke several track records in the Hairy Canary during his ownership, including the Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

In 1974, through Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, Ray Cooke bought the Hairy Canary. He painted it white and continued to race in both British Columbia club and SCCA events in the North West states. Eleven years later, Bill Connell of Ohio purchased the Shelby Cobra through McLeod Collector Car Auction with the intention of restoring it and although he did a great deal of work and research, sadly time did not allow him to complete the project and Hairy Canary remained in his garage for many years.

In February 2003, Bill Bridges purchased CSX 2151 and the car was brought back to the UK for the first time since being shipped to Los Angeles aboard the S.S. Loch Loyal in July 1963.  Bill painstakingly restored CSX 2521 to its original specification and the distinctive canary yellow livery that it had when it as being raced so successfully in the 1960’s.

The ‘Hairy Canary’ is one of the few SAAC confirmed Independent Competition Cobras and has raced all its life, from winning the 1963 Hawaiian Grand Prix Cup in the hands of its first owner, Dick Neil, to competing at the Goodwood Revival no less than12 times. Further contemporary history includes the Modena Cento Ore, The Shelby 50th at the Monterey Historics, Springbok Trophy in South Africa, Le Mans Classic, along with countless European historic meetings.

Absolutely ‘on the button’ and ready to race, chassis CSX 2151 is one of the most recognizable, original and widely raced Shelby Cobras in the world.

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