Combining the power of Ford’s short-stroke V8 with the nibleness of AC’s sporting chassis, the Cobra was the first largely successful English-American hybrid. The whole project was motivated by legendary driver Carol Shelby, who refined and raced the car with funds from Ford.
In what some have called a desperate move, AC Cars accepted a deal to modify their Ace chassis to accept Ford’s V8 engine. They shipped bare chassis to Shelby American where they were initially fitted Ford’s 260 cu in. engine. The V8 worked well within the spacious engine bay, so much so, Shelby moved to the 289 unit in 1964, and the massive 427 with a new, stronger chassis in 1965.
Since development was relatively simple, the Cobra started winning races from its onset. It had a tremendously good power to weight ratio that bettered with both the 289 and 427 engines. In a short time, the Cobra built up an impressive racing record and a purposeful 427 Coupe won the GT Championship in 1964 and placed fourth at Le Mans in the same year.
Due to the early success of the Cobra, Ford was happy to continue development of their engines and pursue new interests. This lead to GT40, a super low racecar developed in both Britain and USA that upset Ferrari’s dominance in a major way.
The definitive version of the Cobra (and some would argue the Ace as well) was the Cobra 427 S/C. These were full-on competition spec cars that were unable to race due to homologation problems. Shelby sold around 30 of these cars which became America’s most capable and expensive road-going cars.
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra CSX2315 – sold for $858,000 From the Peter Klutt Legendary Motorcar Collection. Desirable Dual-Purpose Example of a True Icon. Documented in the Shelby American World Registry. Presented in its Factory-Specified Black on Black Livery. Essential Component of Any Serious Race Car Collection. Prepared as a Longtime Competition Cobra as Shelby Intended. Auction Source: The Pebble Beach Auctions 2015 by Gooding and Company
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra CSX2044 – sold for $924,000 Offered from the private collection of noted Cobra expert Lynn Park. First Cobra to receive a 289 engine. Two fastidious owners from new; less than 27,000 documented miles. Extensive original documentation, including letters from Pete Brock and Carroll Shelby. Complete preservation of original features. Auction Source: 2013 Monterey Auction by RM Auctions
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra CSX2509 – sold for $1,320,000 One of Only 453 Street 289 Cobras. Wonderfully Undisturbed, Time-Capsule Example. Late-Production Car with Rare Factory Performance Features. Exciting Original Color Scheme and Options. Less than 37,000 Miles and Just Four California Owners from New. Exceptional, Well-Documented History. 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance FIVA Award Winner. Offered with Original Owner’s Handbook, Extensive History File, and Shelby American Paperwork. Auction Source: The 2013 Scottsdale Auctions by Gooding & Company
Rare highly optioned Cobra. Rebuilt original engine. Rare dual quad induction system. Authentic Cobra 2×4 intake. Two Carter AFB carburetors. OE style air cleaners. Desirable rack and pinion steering system. New clutch and plate. Powdercoated headers and mufflers. New Michelin tires. Hardtop and side curtains. Billed 5/7/64 to Shelby American. Shipped 5/15/64 to LA aboard the SS Alblasserdyk. Invoiced 8/5/64 to Foreign Car Center in Birmingham, AL. Same owner since 1984 and listed in registry.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra CSX2048 – sold for $522,500 Early “Ford Custom Caravan” history; owners include Ford’s Jacques Passino. Documented in the Shelby American World Registry; single ownership from 1971 – 2011. Freshly and correctly restored by Cobra expert Geoff Howard, of Accurate Restorations. Highly desirable early-production Cobra. Auction Source: Monterey 2012 by RM Auctions
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra Mk II CSX2356 – sold for $792,000 One lady owner from new, with fully documented history. California black plate car; parked in 1987 with 38,762 original miles. Includes rare factory hardtop, side-curtains, tonneau, some tools, and original spare tire. Auction Source: Monterey 2012 by RM Auctions
1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra CSX2290 – sold for $1,320,000 Early 289 Cobra upgraded for racing by Shelby American in 1964. Extensive privateer racing history and highly documented provenance. Driven by Chuck Parsons for J. Randy Hilton in 1964 and by Monte Shelton in 1965. Completely restored from 1988–1991; presented in 1964 racing livery and specs. Eligible for today’s most prestigious and desirable vintage-racing events. Auction Source: Monterey 2012 by RM Auctions
CSX2485 is still equipped with its original soft-top, Smiths heater and Stewart-Warner gauges, among many other original features. While the engine block is not original to the car, it is identical to the original unit, including the correct date codes, and is fitted with the original intake manifold, valve covers and oil pan. The car is currently fitted with period-correct wire-spoke wheels. As offered today, CSX 2485 is an outstanding candidate for complete restoration, or it can simply be preserved “as is.”
1963 Shelby Cobra 289 Factory Team Car CSX2129 – sold for $2,585,000 The Ken Miles and Bob Bondurant Cobra. An Exceptionally Original Factory-Team Car. Superb Racing History with Podium Finishes and Class Wins in FIA, USRRC and SCCA Competition. 2nd Overall at the Bridgehampton FIA Double 500. Displayed by Ford at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Just One Owner Since 1968. Exceptional Restoration to Period-Correct Presentation. Mostly Original Aluminum Bodywork. One of the Most Significant Competition Cobras. Auction Source: 2011 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company
1963 Shelby Cobra CSX2096 – sold for $490,000 The Shelby Demonstrator. Kept by Shelby as a demo for 15 months. Finished with Group A accessories. Chrome knock-off wheels. Early Flathead Cobra emblems. Retains early production shifter knob. Documented in the Shelby Registry. Auction Source: 2011 Mecum Indy Spring Classic
As presented, CSX 2485 displays a lovely patina, representative of its storied and well-known history.
Moreover, the car is still equipped with its original soft-top, Smiths heater and Stewart Warner gauges, among many other original features. While the engine block is not original to the car, it is identical to the original, including the correct date codes, and is fitted with the original intake manifold, valve covers and oil pan. For a period of time the car was fitted with Halibrand wheels, but they have been replaced with period-correct wire wheels and tires. CSX 2485 is an outstanding candidate for complete restoration or simply to be preserved as is.
1962 AC Cobra CSX2025 – did not sell for $400,000 The 1962 Paris and London Show Car. Noteworthy European Motor-Show History. Originally Finished in Steel Grey over Blue. Interesting SCCA Racing Pedigree. A One-Owner Car for the Past 35 Years. Retains Many Early-Production Features. Offered with Weather Equipment and Extensive History File. Documented by the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s. Very Honest and Genuine Example of the Early Cobra. Auction Source: 2011 Amelia Island Auction by Gooding & Company
CSX 2289 was sent to Shelby American in January 1964. This rack-and-pinion car was just one of 22 to be finished with this striking bright blue exterior over red leather. The car, however, remained with Shelby for just over a year in service as a company demonstrator. CSX 2289 was used in various promotional capacities that included running demonstration laps at Southern California’s Riverside Raceway.
Ex-Shelby Team car. One of only six USRRC cars built. One of the most original and unmolested of all the famed Shelby Cobra 289 race cars. One of only two of the USRRC Cobras completed with dual side pipes on each side of the car, it was entered in the season-ending FIA race, the Bridgehampton Double 500 in September 1964. Driven there by Charlie Hayes, it failed to finish when a carburetor drain plug worked loose, dumping its fuel on the track and emptying the tank on lap 48 of the 110-lap race. Thereafter, it was retained by Shelby American as a spare until it was sold in April 1966 to Richard Roe, who raced it in SCCA A/Production during 1966 and then sold it to Murray Kellner in Locanto, Florida, who continued its U.S. racing although with unknown results. Its subsequent history is known and documented in the “SAAC World Registry.”
This superbly efficient Cobra, with the first chassis export number, was delivered new to Chardonnet in France, and shown at the Paris Motor Show the same year. Its first owner was Mr Leman. It was subsequently with Mr Afchain, who had it fully restored in his workshops. It must have had another owner in the meantime. Mr Afchain consigned it for auction with Poulain-Le Fur in December 1992, when it was bought by its current owner.
1963 Shelby Cobra 289 – sold for $550,000 Beautifully Presented And Complete With An Extensive History File. A Well-Known And Highly Competitive Cobra Race Car. A Fully Documented, Well-Sorted Cobra Ready For The Best Vintage Racing Events. Shelby’s Most Desirable Sports Racing Car. Auction Source: 2008 Monterey Preview