1966 Shelby Cobra 427

Carroll Shelby was among the most successful sports cars driver in the United States during the 1950s. He won three national championships during his eight-year career, and set numerous records including one for winning nineteen consecutive races. In 1956, Sports Car Illustrated named him 'Sports Car Driver of the Year.'

Shelby was born on January 11th of 1912 in Leesburg, Texas. After high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving in World War II as a flight instructor. Prior to embarking on a racing career, his resume included dump trucks, oilfields, and chicken farms. His fame was taken to another level after he arrived nearly late at a race, wearing striped overalls, after spending the day vaccinating his chickens. After winning the race, he appeared in the local paper, complete with overalls, which would become part of the comical outfit that would eventually become his trademark.

After several notable racing accomplishments, he caught the eye of John Wyer, who helped Shelby secure a spot on the Aston Martin team. By 1958, the Texan found himself winning Le Mans and setting a new race record in the process. A few years later, however, he was diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 37. After a successful eight-year career in motor racing, Shelby was forced to consider retirement.

After a glamorous career in international motorsports competition, his self-enforced departure from the sport he loved was undoubtedly very difficult. He tried his hand in the oil well drilling industry, and even started a Texas trucking company. In 1961 he became the Goodyear Racing tire distributor for the West Coast and formed a motor racing school at Riverside Raceway in California. These ventures allowed him the financial resources to pursue a dream of building his own car.

Carroll Shelby looked to England where the sports car concept was simplicity. The proven AC Ace roadster was lightweight and attractive with its main Achilles heel being its aging six-cylinder engine. The engine was an outdated single overhead camshaft unit that had been designed in 1919. After AC discontinued production of the Ace, Shelby decided to transplant an American V8 into the engine bay. The short engine could be positioned further back in the chassis offering better weight distribution. Additionally, the new thin wall casting 260 cubic-inch Ford V8 engine offered in excess of 300 horsepower when mated to a four-barrel carburetor.

Carroll Shelby had already initiated homologation paperwork with the FIA to make the Cobra eligible for international competition. As such, the early Cobras were quickly transformed into race cars, with the installation of roll bars, quick jack pickups, racing windshields, competition belts, cooling scoops, and safety equipment.

Just five months after the first Cobra had arrived at Shelby in Venice, the first Cobra was competing in 500 miles of tire testing at Riverside. A month later, on February 3rd of 1963, the Shelby team entered two Cobras in the SCCA Divisional race at Riverside. In its third competitive appearance, the Cobras of MacDonald and Miles finished 1-2.

Horsepower output neared 400 horsepower with the 289 and earned the Cobra numerous checkered flags over the years. However, Chevrolet raised the bar even further with the introduction of the new Grand Sport Corvettes. Shelby settled on the 427 cubic inch V8 after the NASCAR contingent at Ford successfully laid claim to the 390. Even though it offered a reliable 500 horsepower, it required a redesigned, wider chassis with coil springs all around. Carroll Shelby and his team resolved the issue, and placed an order with AC for 100 of these competition 427 Cobras. Each example was finished in primer, with a black interior, and air shipped to Shelby's facilities upon completion. When the FIA officials arrived in California for inspection in April, 1965, only 51 of the required 100 Cobra 427s had been built. Competition features included a wider body to accommodate wider wheels and tires, an oil cooler, side exhaust, external fuel filler, front jacking points, roll bar, and a special 42 gallon fuel tank. This meant they were denied FIA homologation, but they were still eligible for Production Competition in SCCA Regional and National Racing events. After Shelby knew that the FIA was not going to allow the new 427 Cobra to compete in the International GT class he cancelled his order for the remaining competition cars, and AC began production of street cars immediately.

Even Ferrari and his 250 LM were dealt a similar fate, and was denied FIA approval. As a result, both archrivals were forced to return to last year's cars for the upcoming season.

Beginning in 1964, 427-powered Cobras raced in SCCA's top class and were often the winners. Drivers such as Ed Lowther, Sam Feinstein, Hal Keck, and Dick Smith continually found themselves occupying all three podium spots.

In June of 1965, FIA classification system added a new class called 'Competition GT' with a production requirement of 50 examples. This allowed the 427 competition cars to complete, however it created another problem, as it put the Cobra in the same class as Ford's GT40. Since Shelby was running the program for Ford, there was a clear conflict of interest. To resolve it, Shelby agreed not to campaign his own car, leaving it in the hands of the privateers. By this point in history, 53 examples of the competition chassis had been completed by AC (Chassis number CSX3001 through CSX3053), and of those, 16 had been sold to private teams. The first two were retained as prototypes, and one chassis (CSX3027) was sent to Ford Engineering. 35 chassis remained parked outside Shelby's L.A. warehouse. Shelby's east coast representative, Charles Beidler suggested they be painted and completed as street cars. The idea worked, and the 427 S/C (for semi-competition) was born. While these cars were being converted for street use, three more orders were received for full competition cars, for a total of just 19 'production' full competition cars.

By 1967, demand was lessening, Ford was losing money on the cars and production ceased. Only 312 427's were built before production ceased in 1967.


by Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2019

Related Reading : Shelby Cobra History

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....
Continue Reading >>

1966 Vehicle Profiles

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3259

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 mach....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3162

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3287

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3221

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3104

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 ....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3187

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3159

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3021

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 ....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3355

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3181

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3131

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3282

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 ....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3040

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3293

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3022

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3015

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 ....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3359

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....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3012

As with 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 ....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3210

This 1966 Shelby AC Cobra MK III 427 Roadster was originally sold new by Tasca Ford in Providence, RI to McManus Ford Sales in Wakefield, MA, who sold it to Eliot Grant from Lynnfield, MA. Eliot gave this car to his son, Steve, as a high school gradu....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3283

This Cobra is one of 260 coil-spring Cobras built in period. It originally featured a 428 CID engine, standard fender flares, Sunburst wheels, a competition oil-cooler mouth, no hood scoop, and a paint finish in green over a black interior. It was di....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

By 1965, Shelby needed more speed from his Ford 289 powered small block Cobra. Constructor and driver Ken Miles recommended switching to the 510 horsepower, 427 cubic-inch 'sild-oiler' V-8 big-block. Along with the larger engine, the Cobra received a....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3102
Engine Num: C3A3-3059-A

The Ford 289 cubic-inch V8 found in the Shelby Cobra reached its Zenith of 385 horsepower. Although Carroll Shelby was promised a new aluminum-block version of Ford's 390 FE engine, internal resistance within Ford forced a switch to the heavier cast-....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3165

This is one of only 260 street roadster 427 Cobras produced. The thundering big block/coil-spring 427 Cobra debuted for 1965 as the new spearhead of Ford Motor Company's Total Performance campaign. Developed by renowned Shelby engineer and racing dri....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3237

Chassis number CSX 3237 was built in May of 1966 and finished in red with a black interior and came equipped with a 428 cubic-inch V8 engine. Its first known owner was J. Rhoades Moore of Enid, Oklahoma. It later came into the ownership of another Ok....[continue reading]

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3157

Carroll Shelby began racing cars in the 1950s. The highlight of his racing career came in 1959 when he won Le Mans. Having to retire from racing for health reasons he opened the Shelby-American performance equipment and customization company with the....[continue reading]

Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3259 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3162 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3287 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3221 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3104 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3187 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3159 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3021 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3355 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3181 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3131 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3282 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3040 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3293 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3022 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3015 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3359 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3012 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3210 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3283 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3102 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3165 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3237 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3157 


Concepts by Shelby



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Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Shelby
1971Ford (2,054,351)Chevrolet (1,830,319)Volkswagen (1,128,784)
1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)3,150
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)4,451
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)3,225
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)2,378
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Ford (2,170,795)Volkswagen (1,174,687)
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)

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