By 1963 Carroll Shelby’s new Cobra had established its supremacy on the short road courses of America, but Shelby and Ford shared a more ambitious goal: to beat Ferrari on the world stage and become the first American team to win the coveted F.I.A. (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) World Manufacturers Championship for GT cars.
An experimental coupe body designed by Pete Brock was built on an existing Cobra chassis, immediately increasing its top speed by 25 mph; the new car won the GT class at its first race, the 1964 Daytona Continental, prompting Shelby to adopt the name.
Building on that initial success and another class win at Sebring in March 1964, another Daytona Coupe was built in Modena, Italy at Carozzeria Grand Sport, which would go on to build the rest of the six Coupes. The first two Daytonas then competed in Europe, winning important victories at Le Mans and Goodwood. The ’64 Monza Coppa Inter-Europa in Italy, which the Daytonas were almost certain to win, was cancelled by Italian race officials in service to Enzo Ferrari. Team Shelby thus narrowly missed winning the 1964 Championship, prompting Shelby to famously declare, “Next year, Ferrari’s ass is mine!”
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