The Missing Daytona Coupe Mystery

I think it is the strangest automotive story I have ever heard.  I’ll try to lay it out for you.


Back in 1964 Carol Shelby was tearing up the tracks in the US with his Cobra roadsters.  Nothing had a chance.  But on the European tracks with longer  straights it was a different story.  The roadster aerodynamics limited its top speed and the Ferrari’s would clean their clocks.  In 1965 Shelby was intent on winning against Ferrari.  Because Ferrari was allowed to enter a special version of their road car it opened the door for Carol Shelby to do the same.  Fortunately he had Pete Brock on his payroll and Pete had studied aerodynamic texts that the Germans had put together from years of research.  Pete also had a great eye for form and with the help of the Shelby crew they designed the Cobra Coupe.  It was fantastic and the chassis number of the first one was CSX2287.  Six were made in all.

The design was so perfect it allowed Shelby to win against Ferrari, but Ford was intent on LeMans and wanted Shelby to devote his shop to the GT40.  This left CSX2287 to get cleaned up and used on the public relations Cobra Caravan.  It even spent some time on the Bonneville Salt Flats with Craig Breedlove and Bobby Tatroe setting 23 international and national speed records.


Then it dissapeared.  It would take thirty years to turn up again.

Since Ford wanted Shelby to concentrate on the GT40, Carol put the coupes up for sale.  The most he could get for any of them was about $4000 without engines and transmissions.   CSX2287 was sold first to Oscar Koveleski of Autoworld fame and then to Jim Russellof Russkit slot cars who converted it to street use (sort of) and sold it to none other than Phil Spector.  Phil accumulated a lot of speeding tickets and also found the race car did not convert that well to the street, often becoming unbearably hot.  Phil took it to a shop to see about further converting it to street use, but the mechanic told him it would cost tons of money and offered to scrap it for him for $800.

Now here is where the story gets a little screwy.  Some say that Phil sold it to his body guard for $1000 in 1971.  The body guard, George Brand, then gave it to his daughter, Donna O’Hara, who stashed the car and wouldn’t tell anyone where it was or even admit that she had it.

Donna got divorced in 1982 and she retained control of the car. In the last couple of years Robert Lavoie, an attorney representing Kurt Goss a childhood friend of Donna’s, tried several times to buy it for half a million dollars, but she refused.

On October 22, 2000, Donna went under a bridge Fulerton, CA, with her rabbits and a couple of bottles of gasoline.  She poured the gasoline on herself and lit it off.  It took her 15 hours to die and she wouldn’t even tell the police who she was.  She just told them to “Shut up”.  It took over a month for her to be identified when friends reported her disappearance.

Goss claimed that she called him five days prior and told him that if anything happened to her he was to take care of her personal belongings.  Goss said that she wanted him to have the coupe along with three other cars of hers.  When he heard that Donna had died he contacted her mother and paid the outstanding storage charges expecting to remove the coupe.  The owner of the storage center would not let Goss remove it without legal authority and Donna had no will.


Meanwhile Martin Eyears, a rare car dealer from Montecito, tried to close a deal with Donna’s mother to buy it for $3,000,000.  Donna’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and can’t help with the questions over ownership.  So Martin decides to sell it to a collector on the east coast for $4,000,000.

Then Phil Spector comes out and says he still owns the car.  Phil claims that he neither sold nor gave the car away, and that he asked Brand to put it into storage for him.

December 8, 2001, the legal battle ends.  Kurt Goss has been determined to be the legal owner and Dorthy Brand is to pay him more than $800,000, since she sold the car.  After estate and gift taxes Dorthy will end up with nothing according to her lawyer, Milford Dahl.  I suspect the lawyer will pocket enough to put a couple of payments on that beach condo he owns in Malibu.

This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Racing, Sports Cars. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The Missing Daytona Coupe Mystery

  1. Noel says:

    Strange story indeed! For awhile there I thought you were going to announce that you’d found the car in a barn and bought it for $200.

  2. Oscar says:

    The Daytona coupe I bought was CSX 2300 Invoice date 03/31/66 $4000 Oscar Koveleski

  3. jimsgarage says:

    Thanks Oscar! It is so hard to find out the facts.


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  5. HoldenMAN says:

    i know a bloke in my town who has just finished building one of these. its pretty awesome!!!!!!

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  7. Byron Moorer says:

    When I was a teen ager working at my friends Amoco station on Busch Blvd. in Tampa near Busch Gardens in 1969 some body local owned and would drive the #13 Daytona Coupe past the station daily. Does anyone know who that was? In those days you could drive about anthing in Florida by buying a tag for it and hitting the road. No inspection or insurance needed. That Cobra still had its full racing trim, numbers and Goodyear Blue Streak tires and full open side exaust pipes and was and is still the coolist ride I have ever seen on the road . and is now worth over how many million?

    • Manuel Vidal says:

      email for a link on that car. At least it is known that it was driven by Jo Slcheler and Hal Keck in Reims France and winner of the 1965 Daytona GT race. Shelby chassis no. CSX 2299

    • Cody R. says:

      7.25 million

    • Mr. Mike says:

      That was # 2286, That car was later sold at a Florida dealership on consignment for 22k. It was my brother’s everyday car, but it was hot inside.

  8. David says:

    Good pictures. One point is that the lady got the car in a DIVORCE. It was to be SOLD and the profits split between the two. She did not want to sell it, as it would benefit the ex-husband.
    I am amazed that the court did not DEMAND that she sell the vehicle to comply with the divorce records.

    The better tactic would have been to contact/pay the ex-husband, and have the ex-husband sue the ex-wife for partial value of the estate still held by her and when the court siezes and sells at auction…try to buy it.

    What a shame. and that poor rabbit.

    • Dana says:

      The reason why she did not owe her husband anything was NOT that she didn’t sell but, but because it was a gift from her father. Gifts are NOT marital property, therefore it was NOT a divisible piece of property. Therefore, if the court demanded that it be sold they would be in violation of property law.

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  10. Jim Arnott says:

    In late 1971 I saw this Shelby sitting on the back of a small car lot on Hollywood Blvd. Had $2995 painted on the windshield. (At the time, I didn’t have $29.95) I spoke to the salesman. Asked why so cheap. “Nobody wants a coupe or a small block. I’ve been trying to sell it for months.” Sigh…. missed opportunities of a misspent youth. I probably could have swapped my RHD Cooper S straight across for it.

  11. Doug says:

    I worked with Donna in Santa Ana. CA at the Sears Warehouse and she absolutely was NOT missing for one month. We were alarmed by her “no shows” right away and learned the disturbing news of her suicide soon after. She was different, but a kind lady and I am sad that it ended this way. I also knew her ex-husband, Bob. I know he loved her and the car was insignificant to getting her back. Who would own the car was NOT an issue. Bob, I am sorry for your loss.

    • jimsgarage says:

      Doug – thanks for the additional information. I do my best to find out the facts, but it is often a struggle.
      I am certain that Donna was much missed.

    • Dan Morris says:

      I’m sure it was obvious she was missing right away but it took the police 7 weeks to officially state it was her.

      “Nearly seven weeks after a woman apparently burned herself to death on an equestrian trail in Fullerton, investigators said Monday that they have identified her.

      The woman, who police said died Oct. 22 after dousing herself with gasoline and striking a match, was identified as Donna O’Hara, 54, a La Habra homeowner who worked for Sears, Roebuck & Co., officials said. Investigators had first thought the woman may have been homeless.”

      “She had a nice house and a good job,” said Alex Gassler, the deputy coroner investigating the case. “She’s the only one who will ever know why she killed herself.”

      The identification was made after a co-worker at Sears in Santa Ana, where O’Hara worked as a materials handler, filed a missing-persons report last week with the La Habra Police Department.”

  12. Pingback: Phil Spector and a Cobra connection ?? - : Factory Five Racing Discussion Forum

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  15. texarcana2002 says:

    It’s spelled “Carroll”.

    Just sayin’.

  16. this DAYTONA COUPE is now in a racing museum in philadelphia.

  17. A powerful share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing somewhat analysis on this. And he the truth is bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If possible, as you change into expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more particulars? It is highly helpful for me. Massive thumb up for this blog publish!

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