Image credits: © Shelby. Shelby American, Inc.

1965 Shelby Cobra 427

Texan Carroll Shelby had raced in Europe during the late 1950s and realize that a combination of a European chassis and a lightweight American V8 engine may produce a winning combination. To test this theory, a Ford V8 was installed in the chassis of an AC Ace, giving birth to the 'Cobra.' Shelby had AC Cars send Cobras - albeit without engines - from England to be finished in California at his facilities. The 260 cubic-inch (4.2-liter) prototype first ran in January of 1962, with production commencing later that year. This was followed in 1963 by a more powerful 289 cubic-inch V8 (4.7-liter) engine. The major update for the MK II version was a rack-and-pinion steering system. In 1965, a new coil-suspended MKIII chassis was introduced to accommodate the Ford 427 CID (7-liter) V8 engine, which in race guise developed in excess of 500 horsepower. To help cope with the increase in power, it received wider bodywork, extended wheel arch flares and a bigger radiator intake.

Factory Shelby drivers included Ken Miles, Phil Remington, and Pete Brock, who were supported by other racing legends behind the scenes. Along with being faster than most other vehicles it raced against, the Ford-powered AC Ace-derived Cobra was also more reliable. This combination helped it win the U.S. Manufacturer's Championship consecutively in 1963, 1964, and 1965. The Shelby would also win the 1965 FIA World Manufacturer's Championship in 1965 with the Pete Brock-designed Daytona Coupe.

The 427 was built in both Competition and semi, or 'street' competition (S/C) versions, with the 'S/C' being built from the unsold competition cars. These de-tuned versions were still capable of racing from 0-to-100 mph in 8.8 seconds and had a top speed of 165mph. AC had built 53 competition chassis (chassis number CSX3001 through CSX3053), and of those, 16 had been sold to private teams. The first two examples were retained as prototypes, and one chassis (CSX3027) was sent to Ford Engineering. The remaining 34 chassis were parked outside Shelby's L.A. warehouse seeking buyers. Shelby's east coast representative, Charles Beidler, suggested that they be painted and completed as street cars, opening them up to a wider audience of buyers. The idea worked, and the 427 S/C was born. While these remaining cars were being converted for street use, three more orders were received for full competition cars, for a total of 19 'production,' full-competition cars.

427 Super Coupe : Type 65
Shelby had narrowly missed winning the 1964 Championship by a small margin, so Carroll set his sights on taking the title away from Ferrari for the 1965 season. He tasked Peter Brock, Director of Special Projects, with a project code named the Type 65. With the new 427 engine offering an additional 100+ horsepower over the small block cars, Shelby American and Brock devised a new 427 'Super Coupe' which could take advantage of the infamous high-speed LeMans circuit.

Unfortunately, Shelby American was unable to produce the required minimum of 100 MK II 427 Cobras to comply for homologation to international long distance endurance racing specifications. Shelby had been confident he could sell 100 examples of the competition spec 427, and placed an order with AC for 100 examples. Each was finished in primer, with a black interior, and air shipped to Shelby's facilities upon competition. FIA inspectors came to inspect the progress on April 29th of 1965. When they arrived, they found just 51 cars completed and denied Shelby the homologation he was seeking. Shelby was not the only competitor to fail to meet the requirements, as Enzo Ferrari's 250 LM (intended to replace the GTO) was also denied approval. Instead, the Shelby team was forced to field the previous year's small block 289 Daytona Coupe. During this time, work on the Type 65 Super Coupe continued.

Once Shelby was informed that the new 427 Cobra was ineligible to compete in the GT class, he cancelled his order for the remaining competition cars, and AC began production of the street cars immediately. In June of 1965, the FIA re-arranged its classification system and created a new class called 'Competition GT', with production requirements of just 50, one less than the number of 427 competition cars built at the time of the FIA inspection. This meant the Cobra was now in the same class as Ford's GT40, creating a conflict of interest, as Shelby was running the program for Ford. Shelby resolved the problem by not campaigning his own car, leaving it in the hands of the privateers.

After the drawings and one-quarter-scale model were built of the Super Coupe, the special competition chassis was built and shipped by AC Cars Ltd. to Harold Radford Coachbuilders, also in England. Detailed correspondence of Radford's progress was continually sent to the offices of Shelby American on a routine basis. During a trip by Shelby's Chief Engineer, Phil Remington, to Ford Advanced Vehicles in England, he discovered the work to be less than satisfactory. There were discrepancies in both the construction material and the dimensions. After relaying the news, Peter Brock immediately caught the next flight to England, where he would stay to oversee the efforts of Radford Coachbuilders to completion. It was determined that the original chassis was unusable, and a new competition chassis from AC Cars, Ltd. was built.

All Shelby American Chassis numbers were given the CSX prefix (for Carroll Shelby Export), fitted with right hand drive configuration, and delivered to Radford Coachbuilders in England. The new Super Coupe chassis, however, had a CSB prefix (for Carroll Shelby Britain) and the consecutive unit number of 3054. Radford showed little improvement in completing the special car, so Peter Brock had the chassis and body shipped to Shelby American in Los Angeles for final installation of the drive train and completion.

Around this time, Ford's GT MK II program was beginning to show promise prompting all available resources be diverted to the Henry Ford assault on Enzo Ferrari. Ford would win at LeMans with the GT MK II (known as the GT40), signaling the end to the Super Coupe project.

When Shelby American was liquidated, the Type 65 Daytona Super Coupe was sold as part of a package deal. It was later purchased by a Kansas collector and fabricator named Mike Dopudja of Colorado. With guidance from Peter Brock, the project was finally completed and made its debut at Riverside Vintage Races in 1981. It would be driven at various competition events by drivers such as Bob Bondurant, Brian Redman, Mike Dopudja, Bob Hindson and Dick Smith.


by Daniel Vaughan | Oct 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 >>

1965 Vehicle Profiles

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

By late in 1963, the leaf spring 289 Cobra roadster was losing its supremacy on the racetrack. A so-called MKII was developed powered by a 390 cubic-inch Ford FE motor but it didn't work. The MKIII featured a whole new coil spring chassis-designed ....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3006

In 1964 a decision was made by Shelby American to update the aging 289 Competition Cobra to produce 100 updated examples for 1965 FIA World Manufacturers Championship homologation. Known internally as the MKII, the new car was upgraded throughout to ....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3176

Unveiled in 1965, the Anglo-U.S. Shelby 'Cobra 428' was the most brutish muscle car ever. Former race driver Carroll Shelby got the notion that a simple way to make a really hot car would be to slip a small Ford V-8 into the aluminum body of the Brit....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3014

Rules under FIA GT class competition stated that a minimum of 100 examples needed to be produced prior to acceptance in racing. Carroll Shelby, with his strong relationship with privateer racers, felt confident he could sell that many. As a result, a....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

When health issues temporarily took Carroll Shelby off the race track, he began expanding his idea for a V-8 powered, aluminum-bodied race car. His resulting combination of the Ace roadster chassis-produced by Auto Carrier of England-and the new For....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3133

Carroll Shelby had approached several car makers in his bid to find a suitable chassis for his V8 powered vision, and found it in AC's Ace. After talking with Dave Evans, head of Ford's NASCAR racing program, Shelby had found a suitable engine. Evans....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX4005LA

This Shelby Cobra 427 is chassis number CSX 4005LA. It has a fiberglass composite body, aluminum fender close out panels front and rear, 4-inch diameter DOM steel tube frame, original Shelby four-wheel independent suspensions with dual A-arms and co....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3021

This car, CSX 3021, is one of only two Cobras ever finished in Hertz Gold. It was finished in March 1965, but Shelby-American was unable to find a buyer right away. in August of 1966, this Cobra was ordered by Dick Walters Ford. This 427 S/C was put ....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Competition Prototype Coupe

Chassis Num: CSX 3002

This is the first Cobra 427 chassis, chassis number CSX3002, shipped from the AC factory to Carroll Shelby in December of 1964. Shelby planned to race these more powerful 427 competition cars in the GT racing class, but when only 51 chassis were comp....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX2196

It all began quietly enough. Back in 1903 Weller of Britain began building utilitarian three -wheeled delivery vehicles with little fanfare. Soon they became Auto Carrier, Ltd. and eventually AC Cars Group, Ltd. One thing led to another and in 1953 A....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3017

Chassis number CSX 3017 is an extremely rare factory-built competition 427 Cobra that was once owned by John Moores, majority owner of the San Diego Padres. This big block cobra has competed at the Historic Races in Monterey for many years.....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

S/C Replica

Chassis Num: CSX 3198R

This 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C was first sold a Japanese buyer who was under the impression he was buying a real and original Shelby Cobra. The seller had stamped a fake CSX number onto the vehicle. It was not until the vehicle was shown that the o....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3130

While the first 22 street version 427 Cobras were being built, Carroll Shelby realized that the Goodyear Blue Dot tires didn't fill the wide competition fender flares. AC was asked to create a tighter rear fender shape, which would look better with s....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3178

This Cobra, chassis number CSX 3178, was shipped to Shelby American in Los Angeles in Grey Primer with a black interior and a 428-cubic inch V-8 in late 1965. On January 7th, a work order for the car was opened, and closed two months later before the....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3108

The first Shelby Cobra, introduced in 1962, was powered by Ford's 4.3-liter, V8 260 engine. Later Cobras were fitted with the 4.7-liter V8 289 that caused such a stir on the racetrack. The 427 Cobra MK III was the further continuation of Carroll Shel....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Ex-racer Carroll Shelby created the legendary Cobra in 1962 by installing Ford's lightweight V-8 engine in a slightly lengthened nose of the AC Ace. AC's Thames-Ditton facility shipped the body and chassis to California where Shelby American dropped ....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX4007R

The popularity of the Shelby 427 Cobra prompted Shelby to produce a line of 'continuation' Cobras during the 1990s and 2000s. CSX4000 cars utilized an improved original-type chassis with fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber bodies, and were availabl....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX3016

This Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster was Bob Grossman's Foreign Car City in West Nyack, New York, on February 28, 1966. It was entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring, wearing number 6, and painted Silver Mink with red, white and blue stripes. It wore Halibrand....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3104

This Shelby Cobra was the fourth streetcar produced. It was delivered from the factory with the 427 cubic-inch engine backed by dual four-barrel carburetors. It was Billed to Shelby American on May 13th of 1965 and subsequently invoiced to Sexton For....[continue reading]

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: CSX 3125

The coil-spring 427 Cobras can be divided into five series by specification, including the competition, semi-competition (S/C), and three different series of street-specification. Many road-going Cobras were later converted to race in SCCA events, an....[continue reading]

Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3006 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3176 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3014 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3133 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX4005LA 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3021 
Competition Prototype Coupe
Chassis #: CSX 3002 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX2196 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3017 
S/C Replica
Chassis #: CSX 3198R 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3130 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3178 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3108 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX4007R 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX3016 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3104 
Roadster
Chassis #: CSX 3125 


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