The Shelby Daytona Coupe was the first American car ever to win the FIA World Sportscar Championship, and it won back-to-back class victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring. As the car celebrates its 50th birthday this year, it has another honor to add to its list of accolades. The first vehicle to be placed on the National Historic Vehicle Register is 1964 Daytona Coupe serial number CSX2287, the prototype the rest of models were based on.

To be added to the list, an individual car must meet at least one of four criteria. It should be associated with an important American historic event, or it should be associated with important American historic figures. It should also have an exceptional value in its design or construction, or it should have exceptional informational value. The Daytona hits them all.

Carroll Shelby ticks the first two boxes easily. He was the consummate showman. He pitched himself as a hard working Texan who went to Europe to take on the best drivers in the world, and he famously wore his chicken farming overalls as he drove an Aston Martin to overall victory in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. When his health got in the way, and he started building his own cars.

The car fills the other two requirements. Peter Brock, a talented racer in his own right who worked in Shelby's shop, took a bare Shelby Cobra chassis and formed an aluminum coupe body to lay over it. The most ingenious part was the cut-off Kamm-tail that improved aerodynamics while keeping weight down.

The Daytona Coupe never got to compete in its inaugural race in 1964 at Daytona because of a fire in the pits. However, it came back to take class victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the 1965 season, the team won the World Sportscar Championship.

Shelby Daytona Coupe CSX2287 is on display at the Washington Auto Show until February 2, and after that it is on display at the Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia, PA.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 10 Months Ago
      One of my absolute favorite cars. So many cars today are all about led strips and plastic bits. They really don't make cars like this anymore.
        • 10 Months Ago
        My only experience with this car is driving it in a video game, but even that is a thrill. The gargle-ly engine note is music to my ears.
      • 10 Months Ago
      God bless Carroll Shelby! One of the few that had the knack of making a vehicle greater than the sum of it's parts! Man, he could make a car GO!
      • 10 Months Ago
      Saw this thing up close as well today at the DC auto show. The guy working the exhibit was kind enough to open the ropes and let my father and I walk around the vehicle up close. Amazing piece of history and still looks good!
      • 10 Months Ago
      In the background of photos 5 and 6 you can see the English wheel which was used to make all the compound curves on the body panels. Good old hand crafted sheet metal, not some computer aided and stamped design! That is the reason all the Daytonas had different size parts. They were all hand crafted when needed and weren't built off blueprints with exacting tolerances.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Odd? Thought there was a list like this and it would have already been on it along with a number of other cars Shelby raced. Easily among my top 5 favorite cars after the 289 cobra roadster and GT40. Any guesses how much this is worth now? Last guess was north of 4 million but that last one to sell was nearly 8 mill.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Shelby Daytona Coupe? <- about as close as most of us will get. :)
      • 11 Months Ago
      I got to see this car at the auto show Friday afternoon. It was like being with automotive royalty. The nice (and attractive) lady let me in past the barrier to get closer and I got some great detail pics. The car has been left in original condition, and that means flaked paint, scratches, the smell of burnt oil (the car runs and it ran under its own power to get into place for display), the dust in the crevices of the interior, etc, with not much more than a wash or wipe-down for the show. The roof is signed by Carroll Shelby, Peter Brock, and crew. According to the lady working the display, they expect to place maybe 9 or 10 more cars into the Register by the end of this year.