Sold for $643,500 at 2011 RM Auctions. Sold for $836,000 at 2013 RM Auctions. Sold for $1,210,000 at 2015 RM Auctions. There are muscle cars, and then, there are muscled-up sports cars. The Cobra is considered the consummate 'muscle car'. But, in one move, Carroll Shelby effectively bridged the gap between muscle and sports cars and launched a whole new bread of machine.
During the 1960s, there were two approaches. In Europe, the cars were smaller and more-nimble. The premium was placed on acceleration and handling. In the United States, the cars were bigger and heavier, but quite powerful. The focus was on top-end performance in a straight line. While the muscle car was still the main interest in the United States, more and more people were being attracted to the smaller and lightweight European sports cars. During this time, grand prix racing, as well as, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, were quite popular, even with American audiences.
Carroll Shelby was a racing driver and was very familiar with what it took to have the best car. He had been devastated by the Corvettes during a race. Therefore, set off on a quest to create the best car; one that would completely demoralize its competition.
Shelby wanted a small car that was capable of housing a V-8 engine. Carroll had noticed the shapely lines of AC Cars' chassis and approached them about building a car for his purposes. They agreed. Then, Shelby went engine hunting. Initially, Shelby went to Chevrolet, but they turned him away for fear of competition with its Corvette. Shelby then went to Ford. At that time Ford was becoming interested in the European motor sport scene and understood what having a powerful, lightweight car could mean in competition. Therefore, Ford became very interested in the idea of a powerful, small and lightweight car, especially one that could defeat the Corvette.
Shelby's first 'snakes' were quite good in performance. However, the next couple of generations were no where near what Shelby had planned. Its second-generation machine was affectionately called, 'The Turd' by racing driver Ken Miles. This was because the car was virtually un-drivable due to the transverse leaf spring suspension the car had been designed to utilize.
Shelby had been promised Ford's aluminum-block 390 V-8. This met with some resistance. Therefore, Shelby would have to make due with the heavier 'side-oiler' 427. To be able to house the engine, AC Cars had to redesign their chassis with a wider wheelbase. Though frustrating at the time, this, and the inclusion of a new wishbone and coil spring suspension, proved to be just what was needed. The large engine, with the wider wheelbase, enabled the full potential of the Cobra to be unveiled. The Ford 520 bhp, 427 V-8 engine was purposed to push the square, heavy bricks of Nascar's day around at 170mph. When combined with the much smaller and lighter AC chassis, the power-to-weight ratio that resulted was truly lethal for the competition.
The car was light (500 pounds lighter than the Corvette), it was nimble because of its wider stance, but in addition to all of that, the car was incredibly quick.
In 1963, Cobra earned their first-ever race victory against a field made up of Corvettes, Jaguars, Porsches and Maseratis. Jack Sears and Peter Bolton reportedly hit about 186 mph in tests on England's M1 motorway before the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The story surrounding this episode, and the many fatalities on the M1, led England to establish national speed limits its highways. According to Sports Car Graphic magazine in 1965, 'Ken Miles took one of the street 427 machines out and did zero to 100 to zero in 13.2 seconds.' Many of Europe's small sports cars had been able to do the same test in under 30 seconds. This was how brutally quick the Cobra was. It had truly bridged the small, lightweight sports cars of Europe with the incredible high-horsepower engines of the United States. This rare combination made the car coveted for competition purposes, but surprisingly, it proved to be unsuccessful for Ford with the general public. Ford and Shelby ceased importing the cars from England in 1967.
The 427 Cobra presented at the RM Auction in 2011 in Scottsdale, AZ was a genuine 427-powered street Cobra. The car had been prepared by Hall Fabrication & Racing, Inc. The car originated from AC Cars in early 1966 and was then purchased by a gentleman from Kokomo, Indiana later that year.
The car appeared at the First Annual Brown County Indiana SAAC meet in 1978. The car was then sent back to England in 1979 as it was purchased by a Martin A. Colvill. Later on, it was purchased and sent to Germany. In 1988, the car was purchased by the 1988 British Touring Car Champion, Frank Sytner. The car eventually returned to the United States some time later.
In 2003, the car ended up making contact with one of the guardrails at the Monterrey Historics. This led the car to go through a no-expense spared restoration, including a bare-metal refinish.
The Cobra comes with a well documented history, including the original invoice from AC to Shelby American, photographs of the body stamp in various locations, as well as receipts from the car's owners throughout its time in Europe.
The restoration the car underwent was quite extensive. It included the brakes, cooling, electrical, suspension, chrome, paintwork and many other parts and components. The car is finished in red, while its interior has been finished in black leather and dark grey.
The car sports the usual AC Cars body styling expected for the 427 Cobra. Two large, round headlights accent either side of the wide-mouth open grille. The hoodline, trailing back from the grille opening is reminiscent of the Maserati or Ferrari grand prix cars of the early 1950s. The extra-wide fenders cover the car's obviously wider wheel base. A small, single-piece windscreen is about the only thing protruding up out of the top of the car. Along the lower portion of the sides of the car run the hallmark, large-diameter exhaust pipes. The interior of the Cobra offered had a wood trimmed steering wheel, complete with the AC badge. The instruments are correct Smiths. Large, shapely rear fenders help conceal the wide rear tires.
The car has a large-capacity fuel tank. The 520 bhp, 427 V-8 engine sports four Weber carburetors and aluminum heads. Stopping power comes from four aluminum-caliper disc brakes. It has a Ford Top-loader four-speed manual transmission, an independent front suspension comprised of unequal-length upper and lower wishbones with coil springs and telescopic dampers and a similar rear suspension with additional lower trailing links. Headed to auction, this Shelby Cobra was estimated to fetch between $650-$750,000.
The Cobra offered this year is one of just a little over 300 street-specified Cobras ever built. Chassis CSX3259 is truly a special car. Its rarity comes from what it represents. And what it represents is the focus of uniting two points of view. It is that rare amalgamation of a small, lightweight and nimble sports car chassis that would be at home on the twisty road tracks of Europe and an incredibly powerful American muscle car meant to take the car between point A and B in the fastest possible time.
Wikipedia contributors, 'AC Cobra', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 January 2011, 10:27 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AC_Cobra&oldid=405303141 accessed 10 January 2011
'DOUBLE TEST: COBRAS FOR STREET & COMPETITION', (http://www.erareplicas.com/history/scg_427/index.htm). Sports Car Graphic Magazine: Double Test: Cobras for street and competition. http://www.erareplicas.com/history/scg_427/index.htm. Retrieved 10 January 2011.By Jeremy McMullen
The Cobra enjoyed a very long production lifespan through its multiple fiddles' it played; it began life as a Tojiero-Bristol, than an A.C. Ace, followed by the Ace Bristol and finally the Ace Ford. Just as it was ending its production life, Carroll [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
The original Cobra, having begun life as a Tojeiro-Bristol, then as an AC Ace, followed by the Ace Bristol and finally a Ford Ace, had been fitted with an 85 horsepower engine. By the time the Cobra had reached the hands of Shelby and properly matur [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
Production of the Cobra Mark III began on January 1 of 1965. The chassis, designed in cooperated with Ford, used 4-inch main chassis tubes and had coil spring suspension all around. The prior chassis had used 3-inch tubes. The new car had wider fe [Read More...]
Back in 1964 Shelby American decided to upgrade the aging 289 small block V8 Cobra as quickly as possible for 1965 FIA World Manufacturers Championship homologation. In order to do this, they would need to produce a minimum of 100 units. This would b [Read More...]
Ex-racer Carroll Shelby created the legendary Cobra in 1962 by installing Ford's lightweight V-8 in a slightly lengthened nose of the AC Ace. AC's Thames-Ditton facility shipped the body and chassis to California, where Shelby America dropped in the [Read More...]
Carroll Shelby turned his attention from driving race cars to building America's ultimate sports-race car. As a result, the AC Cobra was born and it was not to be taken lightly. For nearly 20 years the 427 Cobra was known as the fastest sports car in [Read More...]
This car debuted in the United States touring along with a GT40 Carroll Shelby was promoting at the time. Serial number 3021 was purchased from its original owner in 2009. This well documented 3,800 mile Cobra is the first of 29 SC's produced in the [Read More...]
Known as 'King Cobra', this Cobra is the only Motion Performance Cobra which has ever set up for drag racing by Joel Rosen at his Baldwin New York shop. CSX 3159 left Shelby American's factory in Los Angeles, California in late 1965. The original own [Read More...]
This is the 5th from the last Cobra produced. The serial number of the vehicle is CSX 3355. It is a very low mileage and very rare side oiler. The car has the original body and chassis with all original stampings. It does not have the typical modific [Read More...]
Sold for $462,000 at 2005 RM Auctions. On November 18th of 1965 CSX-3181 was invoiced to Shelby America and shipped to Los Angeles. Work Order Number 18088 was opened in January of 1966 and finished in March. It was then sent to Archway Motors Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland for $6,398. In Ma [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2011
This Shelby A/C Cobra 427 has not been modified except for the addition of modern tires and wheels, and retains its complete original drive train. It currently rides on a rare set of Goodyear 8.15 x 15 Blue Dot tires mounted on the original Sunburst [Read More...]
It was written on the Shelby order form, for this 427 Cobra, as 'Narrow Hip' because of its smaller rear flares. It was trucked from Los Angeles to Jack Loftus Ford in Hinsdale, Illinois who sold it to a local doctor. Under his ownership it came back [Read More...]
This car, chassis number CSX 3040, is one of 31 427 S/C 'Semi-Competition' specification Cobras completed by Shelby-American Motors of Venice, California. The genesis of the S/C began when Shelby found his Cobras in the same FIA-designated Competitio [Read More...]
Sold for $819,500 at 2012 RM Auctions. Sold for $1,100,000 at 2017 RM Auctions. This Shelby Cobra was billed to Shelby American on July 18th of 1966 and later invoiced to Hayward Ford in Hayward, California. It was delivered new in red with black interior with a 428, as all 3200 series cars were. The original owner is believed t [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
This is an S/C spec car (meaning 'spec built comp car') and has been owned by the current owners since June of 1992. It has been restored with paint to replicate Bob Grossman's original comp car (chassis CSX3016). This car was originally unpainted wh [Read More...]
Sold for $5,500,000 at 2007 Barrett-Jackson. Sold for $5,115,000 at 2015 Barrett-Jackson. Chassis number CSX 3015 is very special for so many reasons. It is one of only 23 427 Competition Roadsters built, it was originally built for Carroll Shelby, and one off two Super Snake Cobras constructed. On September 7, 1965, CSX 3015 was shipped [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2015
Sold for $1,705,000 at 2014 RM Auctions. This Shelby Cobra, chassis number CSX 3359, is the next-to-last 427 Cobra produced. Shelby American billed the car on December 14, 1966. At the time, it was equipped with a 427 V-8 with single 4V carburetor and finished in red with black interior. It [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2014
As wîth many British specialist manufacturers, AC Cars had been using the smooth, refined Bristol straight-6 engine in its small-volume production, including its AC Ace 2-seater roadster. The engine was a pre-World War II BMW design which was by the 1960s considered remarkably outdated. Bristol, a small independent automobile manufacturer in its own right, decided in 1961 to cease production of its engine and instead to use Chrysler small-block V8 engines. Non-plussed by this idea, AC started using the 2.6 liter Ford Zephyr in all of its cars. An idea was borne out of this concept and in September of that year, former champion racing driver Carroll Shelby approached AC about building a car that would accept a V-8 configuration. Chevrolet was not interested in providing their new 327ci V-8 due to too much direct competition wîth the Corvette, however Ford wanted a car that could compete wîth the radical new Sting Ray from across town. As luck would have it, they happened to have a brand new thin wall small block engine which could be used in this endeavor. The name Cobra came to Shelby 'in a dream', he recounted, and a legend was born.
By 1963 the original AC Bristol-based leaf spring Cobra was losing its supremacy in racing. In desperation, Shelby tried fitting a big Ford FE engine of 390ci. Ken Miles drove and raced the FE powered Mark II car and said that the car was virtually undrivable, naming it 'The Turd'. A new chassis was designed in cooperation wîth Ford in Detroit, then developed by Shelby American and designated the Mark III. A whole new chassis was built which featured 4' main chassis tubes (instead of 3') and a new coil spring suspension all around. Necessitated by the suspension redesign and the wont for a greater contact patch, the car had wide fenders and a larger radiator opening. It was powered by the famed 'side oiler' Ford 427 engine developing 425 bhp and attaining a top speed of 163 mph in the standard model and 485 bhp wîth a top speed of 180 mph in the competition model. The production of the Cobra Mark III began on January 1st 1965, three months after two prototypes had been sent to the Únited States in October of 1964.
CSX 3012 was invoiced to Shelby American on 1/11/65 from AC Cars, Ltd, and a Shelby American Work order #15067 was opened on 2/4/65. It was invoiced on 4/20/65 to Valley Mercedes Benz Service, 14104 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, CA. as '1 427 Cobra, Chassis No CSX3012' at the cost of $9,700.00. Painted Astral Silver, a color often used in Mercedes racing cars, 3012 was picked up at Shelby American by company owner Lothar Motschenbacher. The racing linage of CSX 3012 featured its debut race at Riverside on May 2nd, 1965, then campaigned at the following weekend at Laguna Seca, three weeks later in Santa Barbara, a month later in Pomona on, and at the Mid-Ohio ÚSRRC event in early August of 1965. Late in 1965, Motschenbacher traded the car back to Shelby American, taking a 1965 Ford Country Squire Wagon and $7,000 in return for the Cobra.
After a thorough clean up, the car was sold on 12/7/65 to J.D. Hurt. He, however, did not choose to take delivery until the following spring, and agreed to allow Shelby American to rent CSX3012 to MGM Studios for use in the Elvis Presley movie Spinout. Records indicate an insurance claim for damage to the car while at MGM and Hurt's deposit was applied to another Cobra. CSX 3012 was once again repurchased by Shelby American and was invoiced on 4/5/66 to Donald Peckman. Peckman rebuilt the car and raced it during the 1966 season, painted white wîth a thin Blue stripe down the center of the car. Raced in Riverside and featured in a Car and Driver editorial, which stated it as being the best-appearing and fastest Cobra at 1966 ARRC. Early in 1967 Charles T. Oseid purchased the Cobra in the name of his company. Sterling Automotive Mfg. Co. Oseid continued to race prior to an unfortunate accident while being transported on a trailer in the early 1970's. Following this incident, the car was dismantled wîth Oseid retaining the salvageable parts and most importantly the ownership MSO document he obtained from Peckman.
In 1985 George Stauffer purchased the MSO and various parts to 3012, and had Brain Angliss of AutoKraft in England rebuild the car utilizing a new chassis and aluminum bodywork. The finished car, painted dark green, was sold prior to its actual completion in the summer of 1988 to George Gillett, then in 1992 it again changed hands to vintage racer Jim Philion. Featured in several prominent vintage events, including the Wine Country Classic held at Sears Point in June of 1995 and driven by Rick Titus, CSX 3012 also won Top Popular at SAAC-20 in 1995. Driven once again that August by Rick Titus at the Monterey Historics, this car received the Thomas W. Senter Memorial Award for representing the most significant Ford or Ford Powered vehicle at the event.
As one of the finest Shelby American automobiles, the ex-Lothar Motschenbacher 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Full Competition offered here is an absolutely beautiful example is one of only 22 full competition models to leave the factory. Motschenbacher successfully campaigned this car in the '65 ÚSRRC Championships against Ken Miles in the factory 427 and Jim Hall's legendary Chaparrals. A year later, Elvis Presley and CSX 3012 co-starred in the hit movie 'Spinout.' From the fame this added to both Shelby and the music legend, CSX 3012 was to be known as The King's race car for all time. This Cobra includes complete ownership history and thorough documentation. Further, it features a concours-quality restoration and continues to achieve significant awards on both the show-field as well as the track.
This vehicle was offered for sale at the 2008 Russo & Steele Auction held in Monterey, California.Source - Russo & Steele
The formula for the success of the Cobra came through a man named Carroll Shelby adapting a powerful Ford engine into a nimble, British sports car.
A.C. Cars of Thames Ditton in Surrey, England had been producing the Ace since 1954. It was designed by John Tojeiro and featured an independent suspension by transverse leaf springs. The tubular frame body of the vehicle took its styling cues from Ferrari. The original engine used in the Ace was a 1991 cc, over-head-cam engine designed by John Weller, the founder of AC, in the 1920s. In 1956, an optional Bristol engine became available. This was a BMW derived, 1971 cc six-cylinder engine that was capable of producing 125 horsepower. With the Bristol engine, the Ace captured many victories on the race tracks around the world. It even won the SCCA Class E championship three years in a row.
In 1959, Bristol ceased its six-cylinder engine production. When Bristol stopped supplying A.C. with the engine, the production of the Ace ceased. Carroll Shelby quickly negotiated a deal where A.C. would supply him with the chassis. Now all Shelby needed was an appropriate engine. In 1961, Ford introduced the 221 cubic-inch small block engine. This was a new lightweight, thin wall-cast, V8 engine that produced 164 horsepower. Shelby approached Ford about the use of the engine for the 2-seat sports car. Ford agrees.
In February of 1962, a 260 HiPo engine and Borg-Warner four-speed manual gearbox was fitted into the aluminum-bodied Cobras. The AC Shelby Ford Cobra was complete.
In April of 1962, the first Cobra with chassis CSX 2000 was painted yellow and shipped to the New York Auto Show where it appeared on the Ford display. The vehicle was an instant success and attracted much attention. Orders came faster than Shelby could build. The prototype CSX 2000 was continuously being repainted for magazine reviews. The purpose was to create an illusion that more Cobras existed.
In 1963 the engine size increased to 289 cubic-inches. Rack-and-pinion steering was added to the vehicle.
Two Cobras were entered into the grueling 24-Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Carroll Shelby himself drove one of the vehicles. Ford had refused to provide an engine so Shelby, with the help of A.C. cars and Ed Hugus, prepare the cars. One of the Cobras managed to capture a seventh place finish, a major accomplishment.
Dan Gurney became the first American driver to win an FIA race in an American car when he won the Bridgehampton 500KM race in September of 1963 while driving a Cobra.
In 1964, the Cobra returned to LeMans where it finished fourth overall and first in the GT class.
Near the end of 1964, the Cobra 427 was unveiled to the press. If featured a new tubular, aluminum body, coil spring chassis, and a 427 cubic-inch, 425 horsepower engine. The car was able to go from zero to 100 mph and back to zero in less than 14 seconds.
In 1967, the last 427 Cobra was built and in 1968, the last 427 Cobra was sold by Carroll Shelby.
Ford had shifted their resources to the new GT40 and modified Mustang programs. In 1966, three GT-40 Mark II's crossed the finish line at Le Mans capturing first, second, and third. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
Two stalwart names in the colorful history of Shelby American, Peter Brock and Bob Bondurant, will share some of their stories of those early years at the Picnic with Shelby Cobra Saturday, August 18...