Porsche Pilgrimage: Day 19, Boulder To Salt Lake City
Checking another automotive museum off the bucket list.
It was without hesitation that I reserved a camping cabin in Estes Park, Colorado. According to the results of an inquiry of Siri, the overnight low temperature was in the upper twenties at that camp ground. I would not have set up a tent in this frigid environ if I were paid to do so. My little cabin had a decently sufficient heater to keep the cold at bay. Unfortunately, things weren't quite so easy for my little car the following morning. Having driven through the rain all the day prior, the carpets were a bit saturated with water, which caused the inside of the windshield to freeze over with a nice layer of ice. Without any appreciable heat in the car, I was forced to move the car into the sun and wait until it melted. The things we do for vintage car ownership.
Luckily the snow was on the ground, but it was warm and dry enough for the roads to be completely clear of the white stuff, even at the summit where I was. Around 9AM I roused up from my cabin hideaway and descended the beautiful flowing road back toward Boulder proper. The road flowed next to the winding of a river, and it was a better experience to wake up to than a warm cup of coffee and a crossword. The gorgeous blue skies and bright shiny sun were all I needed to wipe away the memory of the dreary drowsy rainy day before. I went and got a nice latte anyway, because you can never have too much of good things.
By the time I'd gotten back to Boulder and sipped my coffee, the opening bell was ringing at a phenomenal automobile collection tucked a few blocks from any main roads, tucked back in an industrial complex. The big blue sign proclaims Shelby American, and I know I'm in the right place. I've wanted to get to this museum, I've been looking forward to it this whole trip. My automotive fascination began with 1960s Ford muscle, as my father is an avid Mustang-er. It doesn't get much more muscle than Shelby's glorious efforts. The guy was fascinating, and the cars to bear his name were world-class.
As soon as I walked in the door, I saw it. The one car above all else that I came to see. Chassis number CSX 2299, the second of just six Daytona Coupes ever built. This is the car with which Shelby fully trounced Ferrari at their own GT game. A more aerodynamic Pete Brock-designed Kammback shape provided the brutish Cobra the top speed it needed to keep up with and pass Ferrari. This car, no, this exact chassis, won its class at Le Mans in 1964. Then it won the Tourist Trophy that same year. The following year, in the US, this car went two for two at the 24 hours of Daytona and the 12 hours of Sebring. As near as I can tell, this is one of only three cars in history to have ever won its class in all three major endurance races, Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring.
Flanking either side of the Daytona Coupe was the very first Cobra ever built (CSX 2000) on the left and one of the factory-campaigned FIA Roadsters on the right. All three were spectacular.
What else is there to see? How about a Sebring 12 hour overall-victor Ford GT Mk IV? Or a Ford Falcon sedan delivery used by the shop in period? Or the DragonSnake drag racing Cobra? Or John Wyer's personal Ford GT road car? Yeah, this museum is full of wonders. Sure, it's basically a tax haven for a few wealthy vintage Ford collectors, but with a $5 entry fee, who am I to complain?
The red Daytona Coupe-esque car shown below is not actually one of the six original Daytonas. Instead, a privateer racer noted the massive gain in top speed that the Shelby factory racers experienced with the bodywork changes, and crafted his own copycat body panels to try to give himself that same advantage.
This red car below was difficult to photograph as it was in behind a few other cars, but it was stated to be the very first Cobra to ever race anywhere. That's a claim to fame, for sure.
Back on the road again, and I can't stop thinking about that Daytona Coupe.
The remaining drive across Colorado is relatively easy. There is one stretch of the roughest dirt road I've ever driven in my entire life, and I grew up on rough dirt roads in rural Michigan. Thousands of holes about 5 inches deep and at least a foot in diameter pockmark the surface of this road. I was driving along a nice two-lane and then all of a sudden a "Pavement Ends" sign appears. That road nearly shattered my teeth and I'm not sure my spleen will ever recover. My 40-year-old German steed, however, continued unfazed (save for perhaps a blown shock absorber).
I'd never driven through Wyoming before, and now that I have I can't believe I waited this long to do so. That was one of the most gorgeous open plains drives I've ever taken. The snow-dotted landscape was desolate, but spectacular to look at. I need to spend more time in Wyoming. As great as it was, though, the sign for Utah was a welcome sight, meaning I was getting closer to home. I'd organized a friend's couch to stay on in Salt Lake City (thanks Gavin), and it was only a few more hours before I'd be able to get some rest.
Just one day to go. One more day and I'm home.