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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-18-2021, 02:29 PM
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Red face Researching any info re: Paul Cunningham, Competition Cobra privateer

Hi All! I am researching any information, photos, stories, etc. regarding my deceased step-father, Paul Cunningham. Paul was one of the few very early privateer factory prepared competition Cobra competitors against the factory team cars. Our Cobra was a very early chassis and may have been originally a 260ci Mark I, when we owned it, it was a 4bbl 289ci Mark II, no hood scoop only five rows of louvres at rear of the hood, red paint with a black and silver racing stripe flared fenders, Halibrand knock-off rims, meatball #37 or variation and sponsored by Powerine Oil Company out of Santa Fe Springs, CA. Paul was killed in a racing accident in November of 1963 at Willow Springs Raceway while leading the event. I would appreciate any information, photos, stories, etc. that you might want to share as all of our race related memorabilia was lost during my Mom's moving back to Illinois, everything is gone, including my Mom. Please stay in touch with me by email if possible at michael@heinekegroup.com or call 562-665-6778.

Bless you all and stay safe in these troubling times.
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Old 06-19-2021, 01:27 AM
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Hello Michael,

First of all, welcome to Club Cobra.

In doing research into the Cobra raced by your deceased step-father, here are a few items that may be useful. Sorry for your loss all those years ago.


1 - The link below will take you to SCCA race results for Willow Springs in November 1963. There are US national race results from 1948 to 1984 listed:


World Sports Racing Prototypes - US National Races 1963


Scroll down to find the entry:
Willow Springs [AP+BP+CP+DP+EP]
Date: 17.11.1963


November 17, 1963, Willow Springs, Paul Cunningham, Shelby Cobra CSX 2049, Did not start race, fatal accident in preliminary. More information can be found on the web page.



2 - Shelby Registry:

On pages 90 & 91 of the Shelby Registry, there is a history of CSX 2049 and some details of the accident. Paul lost control of the Cobra in turn 9, the car flipped end over end and he was killed instantly, he was 37 years old. What was left of the chassis was sold Ďas isí in 1979 and in the mid 80ís a Cobra was reconstructed around the remaining parts by Baurle Auto sport at the request of the owner, Fran Kress. The car was subsequently raced, more details can be found in the Registry.


Hope this helps.

Regards,

- Tim
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Old 06-19-2021, 04:11 AM
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the reconstructed "CSX2049" is for sale in the Netherlands:

www.dhgracing.nl/cars/ford-shelby-cobra/

at last report, the original CSX2049 was being restored by the owner in California, although I haven't seen any public updates or photos of the car
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Old 06-19-2021, 01:51 PM
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Default Paul Cunningham #37 Cobra

I am aware of the cars, the one in the Netherlands is not the Cunningham Cobra. Also, a second "Air-Car" is being built in S. Cal and it is not the Cunningham Cobra. The Cunningham Cobra was owned by the family and was never sold, after the accident it was taken to Shelby's shop for failure analysis, it was determined that the accident was not due to a mechanical failure and the wreck was subsequently 'cannibalized' with portions of the car being sold off or given to others so they could 'reconstruct' the car. I will state again, this cobra was privately owned by the Cunningham family, sponsored by Powerine Oil Company (Peter Rothschild), and never sold subsequent to the fatal crash.

As a stroke of luck or pity, a Shelby employee who knew Paul personally could not stand to see the few remnants of the 'cannibalized' cobra to the garbage bin and took it upon themself to deliver to my Mom those few remnants in a large cardboard box which was stored in her storage area, I found it when I was clearing out her property when she died in 2001. I have that cardboard box and the few cobra remnants.

In the last 15 years or so, I have been acquiring period correct 289ci engine, Mark II front end clip, roll bar, etc. to go with the chassis remnants, foot boxes, aluminum interior panels, dash board and upholstery remnants.

Looking for a partner with whom we will reconstruct the real Cunningham Cobra, a very rare factory competition prepared 289ci Mark II Cobra.

I appreciate any and all photos, commentary, records, etc.

Bless you all and stay safe.

I am going on 78, in remission from Stage 4 stomach and liver cancer and may not live long enough to complete my endeavors, but I owe it to Paul's racing history and achievements.
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Old 06-20-2021, 01:51 PM
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Re CSX2049,
I have been involved with researching the history of 2049 for some time now. I have been responsible for researching and putting together the, ownership, driver and event history of the chassis. There is one event omission from the history of 2049 as I did not have verifiable information regarding the event, so even though I knew that there was an event that took place I omitted it from the SAAC Registry records, I now have that event / driver and placing documented.
Unfortunately the value of these cars has elevated to the point where even the smallest component or paperwork of the vehicle can and has lead to the complete re-birth of a car that has been for the most part destroyed at some point in it’s life. Because of the relative ease of recreating one of these cars today people have gone to extreme measures to claim ownership, in some cases cars that were totaled and parted out by an owner in period have been mysteriously resurrected. The fact that the last documented owner never transferred ownership of a vehicle that they had parted out because they did not sell the whole vehicle, they sold the remains, either all or part. You can add the fact that the owner that parted out the car never reported the vehicle “destroyed” to the state DMV. The ownership title of these cars ended as they being the last recorded owner of that particular car. Unscrupulous people are now purchasing these rights to the ownership by purchasing the paper rights to the titles of these vehicles and building a car around them. The paperwork for the car may be technically legal but the car that the title is being attached to ceased to exist long ago.
There are also exceptions, cars that were crashed and repaired in period, CSX2323 is a very good example. It was crashed in 1964 at the Nurburgring and sent back to AC to be repaired/rebuilt, the repair work costs exceeded the original SAI build costs so you can pretty much deduce the lengths it took to do the work.

SAAC has a title for these cars “Air Cars”, or at best “Replicas of CSXxxxx”.
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Last edited by CompClassics; 06-20-2021 at 03:08 PM..
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Old 06-20-2021, 02:12 PM
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What do the red arrows mean?
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Old 06-20-2021, 02:31 PM
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The red arrows indicate details to a particular chassis that are unmistakable to the chassis modifications it received in period and the damage received during it’s crash. This is a “part” that was acquired when the car was parted out long ago. Since the car was “parted out” there was no reason for a transfer of title as these parts did not constitute a complete vehicle. To many, including SAAC the frame is the identity of the Cobra, without the chassis you don’t have a car, engines, differentials, transmissions, body and other components make up a car, the frame is the car everything else is just the icing on the cake.
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Last edited by CompClassics; 06-20-2021 at 03:09 PM..
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Old 06-20-2021, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USC_COWBOY View Post
....The Cunningham Cobra was owned by the family and was never sold....the wreck was subsequently 'cannibalized' with portions of the car being sold off or given to others so they could 'reconstruct' the car. I will state again, this cobra was privately owned by the Cunningham family....a Shelby employee who knew Paul personally could not stand to see the few remnants of the 'cannibalized' cobra to the garbage bin and took it upon themself to deliver to my Mom those few remnants in a large cardboard box.....
Hello Michael,

Echoing Tim's comment - welcome to Club Cobra.

May I ask - do the remnants that you have of CSX2049 include the AC Cars ID plate for CSX2049, and do you have any body or chassis parts that have the car's CSX ID stamping?

Best wishes in your endeavour to rebuild the car.

Cheers,
Glen
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Old 06-20-2021, 06:56 PM
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Xbox-60

CSX2049 did not have a ID plate as foot box VIN tags had not come into use until later. The car would have been stamped on the, worm and steering gearbox mounting tower, the door mounting flange on both doors, the trunk latch tang and on the driver’s side hood latch tang. There would also have been electro pencil etchings on the underside of the transmission tunnel and the cockpit close out panel on the fuel tank side.

Paul Cunningham was killed prior to the actual race.

Last edited by CompClassics; 06-20-2021 at 06:59 PM..
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:02 PM
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Default Paul Cunningham #37 Cobra

The car was never streetable nor licensed, it was delivered to us as a trailered comp car. I am not sure that the #2049 is the correct chassis number, there is no maker plate or inscribed number on the chassis I have. Where specifically did the chassis number inscribe or identify the particular chassis? It is evident that portions of the chassis I have in my garage have been torched or cut off, perhaps this is where the chassis identifiers might have been placed.

I can use all the help I can get.

Bless you all, for your help.

Mike Heineke
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:24 PM
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USC COWBOY,

My last post gives all the places a chassis number was located. Later cars would have also had a foot box VIN tag and if it was a rack and pinion car the chassis would be void of a steering box mounting tower and the frame VIN stamp would be located on the top of the rear right front lower control arm mounting bracket. Being that the car was a worm and sector car use my previous post as a guideline.
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Old 06-21-2021, 03:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USC_COWBOY View Post
The car was never streetable nor licensed, it was delivered to us as a trailered comp car. I am not sure that the #2049 is the correct chassis number, there is no maker plate or inscribed number on the chassis I have. Where specifically did the chassis number inscribe or identify the particular chassis? It is evident that portions of the chassis I have in my garage have been torched or cut off, perhaps this is where the chassis identifiers might have been placed.

I can use all the help I can get.

Bless you all, for your help.

Mike Heineke
Mike,

On top of what CompClassic has already posted (informative to say the least), I suggest you take current pictures, and post what you have here for reference.

Bill S.
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Old 06-21-2021, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
The car was never streetable nor licensed, it was delivered to us as a trailered comp car. I am not sure that the #2049 is the correct chassis number, there is no maker plate or inscribed number on the chassis I have. Where specifically did the chassis number inscribe or identify the particular chassis? It is evident that portions of the chassis I have in my garage have been torched or cut off, perhaps this is where the chassis identifiers might have been placed.

I can use all the help I can get.

Bless you all, for your help.

Mike Heineke
Hi Mike, and welcome to Club Cobra. CompClassics is absolutely correct that the frame constitutes the car. Attached body panels, suspension, drivetrain, electrical and trim items can come and go as they wear out or are destroyed. If the parts of your frame that carried the identification numbers have indeed been cut off, then the intent of the people who acquired these pieces is abundantly clear.

Spuriously "resurrecting" a collectible (or any) vehicle by underhanded manipulation/misuse of documents and identification numbers and then representing it as the original is nothing less than fraud and the perpetrators should be pursued and prosecuted - particularly so given the large sums of money that original Cobras command. If you actually do have the chassis of the original car, then I sincerely hope you are successful in establishing it's identity and exposing any fraudulent shysters hawking counterfeit replicas for what they are.
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Old 06-21-2021, 09:52 AM
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I’ll give you another example of a street Cobra that was crashed in period the remains of the wreck were purchased by a known Cobra restoration guy. The car was wrecked enough that the restoration shop thought that the frame needed to be replaced, so it was. This was the first step in fraudulently creating something from nothing. It gets better. The restorer that had a new frame produced decided to sell the old frame with other parts to another party with the caveat that if the buyer ever wanted to sell the frame that he would get first rights of refusal. The restorer sold the frame without the portion that would have had the chassis VIN stamp so the identity of the frame was not disclosed to the buyer. Supposedly the restorer was supposed to disclose the identity of the chassis upon completion of the rebuild, but then why would the restorer do that if he was building another car with that chassis identity?! The purchaser ended up selling the chassis without giving the restorer their agreed to first rights of refusal, thus the restorer never disclosed the identity of the chassis. The next person that bought the chassis was a very clever fabricator and ended up repairing the damaged chassis by sleeving it and reworking areas that needed repair, he ended up building a complete car from the original chassis. Now we have an original chassis car without it’s given at birth VIN number and a completely fabricated after the fact car with an original VIN number, which car is the original?! The fabricated car by the restorer car ended up in a high end dealers inventory where one of my clients was interested in purchasing the car and hired me to do a pre-purchase inspection. I inspected the car and determined that even though the car had original parts on it and a VIN tag on the foot box, it was a complete fabrication. Needless to say my client and I moved on to other offerings and the dealer eventually sold the car to another unsuspecting party. How would you like to have been that buyer, correct paperwork but a car that was a new construction?
So who owns the original Cobra?
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Last edited by CompClassics; 06-21-2021 at 09:56 AM..
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Old 06-21-2021, 10:22 AM
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I vaguely recall a story where one of the Kirkham brothers had acquired an original Cobra frame that had the serial number ground off and there was no way to figure out the original serial number, so he ended up putting a Kirkham serial number on the original Cobra frame.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:44 PM
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Not the same numbers but the same things are happening with Harley Pans and Shovels.
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Old 06-21-2021, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CompClassics View Post
Xbox-60 .....
John, call me xb-60, or Glen - just don't call me late for dinner, or 'Xbox-60"

Cheers,
Glen
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Old 06-21-2021, 06:30 PM
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xb-60 / Glen

Autocorrect strikes again, damn computer programs!
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Old 06-28-2021, 10:20 AM
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Michael, I am fascinated by your story and your efforts to retrieve the car from a murky past. However, you should know that the factory records we have indicate that CSX 2049, which is indeed the car in which your stepfather lost his life, was sold to an Ann Abiden of Riverside, CA and initially street-registered with the black CA tag JJB-499. It was later given to her son Albert and converted to a race car. He allowed two other drivers to race the car in competitive events in CA, including Ted Roberts and Allen Grant, between April and September of '63. The "entrant" was listed as Albert Abidin. It wasn't until October that the name Paul Cunningham appeared as an entrant in a race at Willow Springs, listing the entrant as Muth Ford. Following Cunninham's fatal crash, the factory records indicate that the car was requested back at Shelby American for examination, following which buyer for the wrecked car appeared by the name of Lanse Hasselrig. There are documented payments to the Abidin family over a period of months to enable him to purchase the car, as well as photos of him with the crashed 2049. These facts appear to be in direct conflict with some of your points, and it remains to be determined what evidence exits to support your recollections about this car.
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Old 06-28-2021, 01:51 PM
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Default Paul Cunningham #37 Cobra

Ned,

I am well aware of the spurious claims made by those you referenced. I have extensive research and documents that disprove the fabricated story of our Cobra. The documentation you refer to can be easily 'manufactured' as all you need is some period correct invoice paper, period correct typewriter, and voila! you have what some would accept as supportive paperwork.

Our family was in possession of the Cunningham Cobra during the period of time you reference, Paul was the only driver of the Cunningham Cobra, there was never a Ann Abidin or her son at any of our events including registrations, tech inspections, pre-grid, post-grid activities, parties, dinners, etc. IMO, a pure and distinct fabrication. There was never a Muth Ford involved with our Cobra.

There well may be a story as you relate but not with the Cunningham Cobra.

Only non-family at any of the Cunningham Cobra events and activities were our General Motors Sponsor (Chieftain Pontiac, Los Angeles)and pit boss (Mickey Thompson) for our big modified entry, either the "Terrible Tempest" or the Kurtis Kraft; Powerine Oil Sponsor of the Cobra (Peter Rothchild and their PR man; mechanics and personal family friends.

In the crooked world of high value early Cobra's there never is a loss that is not exploited by the unscrupulous. My efforts are to respect my father and his history and not to squeeze profits out of a tragic track event. People that participate in this type of self-interest activity will surely burn in hell as I have prayed to happen and if it were in my power, I would cast a curse upon any project that emerges at the expense of a grieving family.
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