Four Classics: One Shop

One day John Panfil may arrive as one of America’s car legends. To get there, he sells them.

American Legends, 21242 N. Black Canyon Highway, specializes in home-grown race car classics you can park in your garage. If names such as Shelby AC Cobra, Shelby Daytona, and Ford GT40 excite you, as they have excited racetracks for almost 50 years, then pit stop at John’s place — and let everyone know you’ve arrived.

At American Legends, you can purchase a variety of 21st-century versions of American supercars — classic lines with the finest contemporary components. His showroom and shop is on the west frontage road just south of Deer Valley Road in north Phoenix, a few minutes from the Loop 101/Interstate 17 interchange.

Super Performance from Superformance

Through Panfil, you can purchase three continuation cars by Superformance of South Africa: the GT40, the take-no-prisoners “Ferrari slayer” racer that won four times running at Le Mans in the mid ‘60s, including a 1-2-3 in 1966; the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, of which only six originals were ever built, another Ford answer to Ferrari, in this case the great 250 GTO; and the Superformance MKIII, a precision rolling chassis of America’s greatest muscle car, the Shelby Cobra, introduced in 1962 by the racer turned businessman, Carroll Shelby. Finally, for those who must have the “Real Thing,” Panfil can seat you in a Shelby Cobra 427 s/c CSX 4000 — as a licensed Shelby distributor for the classic racer directly from the great man himself.

“Superformance manufactures the finest component vehicles for those looking for a well-crafted, factory-built product,” Panfil says. He adds that because the original cars are increasingly valuable legends, enthusiasts should carefully select among the many kit or replicars available. He emphasizes that Superformance has shipped more than 3,000 high-quality fiberglass bodies to owners worldwide — and carries the personal stamp of Shelby himself.

About two years ago, the legendary Shelby, chairman of Carroll Shelby International, and Jim Price, president of Superformance, resolved previous differences and agreed to work with each other to their mutual advantage as well as that of enthusiast buyers. As a result, the three ‘60s legends, GT40, the MKIII, and Shelby Daytona, available from Superformance through American Legends, are the only rolling chassis vehicles, that is, without engines and transmissions, licensed with Carroll Shelby’s permission.

“Customers are assured high resale values because of our licensing agreements, the exacting design and engineering integrity, the build, and the fact that only new, high-quality components are used in construction,” he says. No used parts are fitted to the car as most components are specifically designed for the Superformance vehicle. “This attention to detail results in proven world-class performance with superlative fit and finish,” he adds.

The Superformance GT40 recalls the great wins at Le Mans, which a young Shelby had won in 1959, driving an Aston Martin with Roy Salvadori. Because it is licensed by the trademark holder, Safir GT40 Spares, the authentic continuation is eligible for the GT40 registry. As with the original steel monocoque, the complete rolling chassis includes racecar suspension, Hartwell door latches and catches, and authentic-style seats and silver rivets as well as contemporary components such as Wilwood brakes, Bilstein shocks and H&R springs. Two body styles are available: the MKI, built for small-block Ford 289s, 302s or 351 Ws, and the MKII, which can accommodate the small blocks or such as the behemoth Ford 427.

Designed by Peter Brock with Carroll Shelby, the Cobra Daytona is the first and only American made car to win the World Manufacturers’ Championship for Grand Touring Racecars. It was first referred to as the “Daytona Car,” when the coupe was conceived for the Daytona race. Built for the 1964–65 season, the Daytonas snapped up the GT class at Sebring and placed fourth at Le Mans, and in 1965 the Alan Mann Racing team won with the car at the FIA’s World Manufacturer’s GT title class. Because it is licensed by Shelby, the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is eligible for the Shelby American Automobile Club owner’s registry — an indicator of future value.

Finally, the Superformance MKIII is the only Shelby 427 S/C reproduction manufactured under license to Carroll Shelby Licensing. You can install any power plant in the Superformance you choose; in fact, Anthem Motors, in the same building, can, under separate contract, install engine and drivetrain to this or the other cars after you accept delivery of the rolling chassis.

The MKIII is standard with four-wheel independent suspension, Bilstein coilover progressive shocks with H&R springs, four-wheel vented disc brakes, with Wilwood four-piston calipers, and other items such as an aluminum radiator, shroud and fans, and original-style Smiths gauges. “What better way than to relive track and street history than with the MKIII?” Panfil asks.

The Great One from the Great One

The Shelby Cobra CSK 4000 is built to original specifications and is approved by Shelby Automobiles. This is an authentic continuation of the car introduced in 1962 by Shelby — the icon that won American SCAA Manufacturers Championships in 1963, ‘64, and ‘65. In 1966, Shelby moved up from the already potent Ford 289 to the 427 — a combination of lightness and lightning that changed the standards of performance on and off track.

Available in fiberglass or aluminum, the authentic Shelby will also be documented with a Shelby CSX serial number, a MSO signed by Carroll Shelby and it will be documented in the Shelby registry.

“You do not have to install a 427 in the CSX although it is highly recommended for vehicle value — which will be less without it,” Panfil says. He recommends that customers choose either the Shelby specified 427 FE engine or The Roush-engineered 427, which also carries a two-year warranty. “They’re very similar performers, with exhilarating 0-60 times in less than four seconds.” Once again, Anthem Motors, with its chassis dyno-tuning and full service shop, can install these under separate contract.

As with the original race car, the frame is constructed with four-inch-round tube main rails with a 120 wall thickness. The 90-inch wheelbase carries a four-wheel independent suspension with dual A-arms and coil over shocks. Fifteen-inch Halibrand-style pin drive wheels, an original style roll bar, custom made headers and side pipes are among many original-style components. A large aluminum radiator, rack and pinion steering, and Salisbury style differential are also standard. Contemporary upgrades include custom Shelby branded brakes, with dual piston calipers made by Baer, and specially commissioned shocks which ensure safety without detracting from the original look.

The CSX is available in a variety of colors including Guardsmen Blue, Le Mans Blue, Viking Blue, Navy Blue, Wimbledon White, Arctic White, Rosso F-1 Red, Black, Yellow, Bright Silver, Titanium Metallic and Brooklands Green. The interior offers Shelby-signature series custom gauges and an original-style 15-inch wood steering wheel.

“This is the car you ogled at 30 years ago,” Panfil says. “And this exacting reproduction, approved by Carroll Shelby himself, is what you can own, and drive, today.”

American Legends, 623.879.0377,

Anthem Motors, 623.879.0930,