Hey, Spike! tells a Ford Cobra family’s story
Special to the Daily
The event title of the 28th annual Colorado Grand may be slightly altered this September — to grand-“father.”
The Colorado Grand is a 1,000-mile tour of very high-end exotic vintage automobiles (pre-1960 race cars and sports cars of distinction) and its community liaison is Dillon real estate broker “Fast Eddie” O’Brien, who recently became a grandfather.
Eddie and Susan’s daughter Heather and husband Ian Greene became parents of Oliver Frances.
A Western State College grad, Eddie is known for his motorcycle and car racing exploits, and his real Ford Shelby Cobras. Hence, “Fast Eddie.”
Currently, that sparkling gleam in Eddie’s eye is grandson Oliver, but before it was his red 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra.
Eddie provides these detailed numbers:
“CSX3224 sold through High-Performance Motors in California, July 1966 for $6,145; weight — 2,275 pounds, engine — 427 side oiler, aluminum heads, advertised 425hp, nearly 500 pounds of torque, it has coil over springs and Koni shocks with Girling S/C discs brakes.”
“Ollie’s” numbers are:
“Oliver Francis Greene, born 6/26/16 at 1:43 p.m., 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 19 inches long.”
And, like Fast Eddie securely harnessed daughter Heather into the loud, rumbling, earth-shattering Cobras over the years, you just know “Ollie” will get the same treatment.
Spike! knows full well the Fast Eddie experience, having been along for a ride up the west side of Swan Mountain in Eddie’s then-1965 black Cobra.
The wind, the noise, combined with the rapid rise in elevation — first gear, second gear, holy crap, he’s going into third — made for an exhilarating experience we still laugh about today.
The numbers for that now-sold beast:
“Shelby Cobra, 1965 289 with 4 Weber 48 carbs, 390hp, 4-speed, aluminum T10 3:90 rear end, original FIA flairs with Halibrand Pin Magnesium knock-offs original wheels; the Cobra’s # is CSX 2545 — CSX stands for Carroll Shelby Export.”
Eddie had a hand in founding the Steamboat Springs Vintage Auto Races that has somewhat morphed into the Colorado Grand. The event benefits the Colorado State Patrol Orphans and Widows Fund, St. Anthony’s Flight For Life and provides scholarships to students in hosting towns.
The 2015 edition of the thousand-mile tour included Bob Hagerty of Hagerty Insurance and Wayne Carini of Velocity TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars” fame.
A chilling rain greeted the tour of 100-plus car field of Alfas, Maseratis, Bentleys, Porsches, Jaguars, BMWs, Aston Martins, Allards, MGs, Austin Healeys and Bugattis in Dillon for a lunch stop before a run up Loveland Pass.
And car buffs may recall last year’s auction sale of the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM for a record $28 million; it also had run the Colorado Grand.
As the Colorado Grand’s community liaison (he admits it’s a mystery what he does, so he can drive the Cobra on the Grand), he fires it up at 0’dark 30 each morning, taking a Colorado Highway Patrol motorcyclist with him, to set up the towns and acting as the first alarm clock “chime” for the day.
He collects automobiles and motorcycles, much like his close friend, and Spike!’s, LA Times owner Otis Chandler, did before his passing in 2006 at 78.
Otis owned two Cobras, which Eddie found for him, plus the first Porsche 959 allowed in the U.S., and Steve McQueen’s “LeMans” 917 Porsche, among many others in his Oxnard, California-based Chandler Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife.
Another testament to Eddie’s love for speed came from Gerald “Mr. Estes Park” Mayo:
“My friend ‘Fast Eddie O’Brien’ from Dillon is pictured center. Eddie is pictured with Crosby Stills and Nash singer David Crosby to the left, Dan Gerber, Eddie and then Otis Chandler on the far right. The group is pictured in front of a motorcycle collection in Otis Chandler’s museum. Looking at the vintage of the bikes, I can’t see Eddie riding any of them as they are not fast enough.”
As for Eddie’s current Cobra, its history goes like this:
“The car is not to be taken lightly; it was the fastest car in production for nearly 25 years. Clutch, steering and brakes take muscle and finesse to operate. It handles extraordinarily well — it is not forgiving.
“Longmont’s Bill Murray restored the car in the ’90s, then sent to its owner in Japan, where it was trailered early mornings away from Tokyo to either nearby tracks or a curvy mountain road to be driven. It was the Turtle Wax model car in Japan as well as a show car.”
Ah, the stories, Ollie will hear.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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