The Shelby Cobra Comes Home to Pittsburgh

When the Shelby Convention comes to the PVGP this year, the Cobra will be coming home.  Because, even though Carroll Shelby was Texas born and bred, and California was the legendary home of his sports car company, Shelby’s very first Cobras were built right here in Pittsburgh.

 

The story of their birth involves an import car dealer who was also, like Shelby, an internationally recognized race driver.  His name was Ed Hugus, and he ran Continental Cars and European Cars, both on West Liberty Avenue, just 4 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

Hugus and Shelby were friends, and Shelby confided in Ed his plan to create a new sports car by cramming an American V8 into the English AC Ace 2-seat roadster.  Hugus liked the idea, but Shelby admitted he didn’t have the funds to back an order with AC.  Hugus then offered to order the first three prototypes, which were modified by AC to accept Ford’s small-block 260 V8.  The chassis were shipped to Pittsburgh, and the very first three Cobras were assembled in Hugus’ shops.  Prototype #1, serial number CSX2000, was approved by the Ford Motor Company to be shown for the first time at the New York Auto Show.

Shelby offered to make Hugus a partner, but Hugus replied that he was only interested in selling and racing the Cobras.  He added Cobra to his line of offerings, which already included Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari, and others.  He became the east coast distributor, and a frequent Cobra driver sponsor.

Incidentally, working as a young Porsche-trained mechanic at Continental Cars at the time was the former PVGP Race Director and still current volunteer, Mike Connolly shown above far right

So, indeed, the Cobra comes home to Pittsburgh!