1966 Shelby 427 CobraSOLD
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Estimate: $900,000-$1,000,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $770,000

485bhp, 427 cu. in. overhead valve V8 engine with four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel coil spring independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90"

Carroll Shelby ’ s sports car concept was, at its core, simple enough: take the attractive, lightweight, and well- proven AC Ace roadster and turn it into a successful production racer by replacing its aging six-cylinder engine with a powerful, deep-breathing V8. AC ’ s own engine was an outdated single overhead camshaft six-cylinder unit that had been designed in 1919. Once AC discontinued production of the Ace, what remained was an engine compartment sans engine.

In came Carroll Shelby, who carried with him the standard 1960s American answer to the question of insufficient power – a big V8. The clever Texan planned on fusing AC ’ s bodies with Ford ’ s new thin wall casting 260 cubic inch V8, which produced in excess of 300 horsepower when mated to a four-barrel carburetor. Furthermore, the shorter V8 engine could be pushed farther back in the chassis for better weight distribution.

Translating paper to pavement proved to be rather difficult, however, as the Ford ’ s greater power exceeded the AC chassis ’ s design limits and required modifications to accept larger tires and the shorter, wider Ford motor. Shelby moved into the former Scarab shop in Venice, California as the first Cobra chassis arrived from AC, not only acquiring a fully equipped race car construction facility but also the services of Phil Remington, whose experience spanned everything from hot rods to USAC Champ cars. Modifications subsequently included racing headers and exhaust systems, four-barrel carburetors, anti-roll bars, among numerous others.

However, Carroll Shelby had already initiated homologation paperwork with the FIA to make the Cobra eligible for international competition. As such, the first Cobras had to be turned into race cars - no small matter - which included installing roll bars, quick jack pickups, racing windshields, competition belts, cooling scoops, and a whole myriad of safety and reliability items. He had his sights set on the Championship.

By January 1963, only five months after the first Cobras had arrived at Shelby in Venice, the first racing Cobra was able to complete 500 miles of tire testing at Riverside.

On February 3, 1963 the Shelby team entered two Cobras for in the SCCA Divisional race at Riverside. In only its third competitive appearance the Cobras of MacDonald and Miles finished 1-2.

The Almighty 427
Win after win, however, ultimately indicated that the 289 hit a brick wall of reliability as its output neared 400 horsepower. With the yearly demands for increased horsepower continually required of sports car racing teams, the 289 Cobra ’ s seemingly infinite sea of checkered flags may have been in danger. Once Chevrolet ’ s new Grand Sport Corvettes hit the track at Nassau, the issue turned from a serious concern to an immediate emergency. Looking once again to Ford, Shelby settled on the 427 cubic inch V8 after the NASCAR contingent at Ford successfully laid claim to the 390, his first choice. It may have been reliable at 500 horsepower but it required a redesigned, wider chassis with coil springs all around. Once again, Carroll Shelby ’ s expedient team resolved the matter in short order and had the most popular Shelby sports car of all time out on the track, albeit not in an FIA race; by the time FIA officials arrived in California for inspection in April, 1965, only 51 of the required 100 Cobra 427s had been built. Denied FIA homologation, Shelby ceased production of his FIA racecars, and began production of street cars immediately thereafter.

Shelby, however, was still race-hungry and his Cobras were eligible for Production Competition in SCCA Regional and National Racing events. By 1964 the SCCA had developed a method of selecting their national champions in such a way that the winner of each geographic division was pitted against all other division winners for a final shoot-out at the end of each season. This was called ARRC or the American Road Race of Champions. Beginning in 1964, 427-powered Cobras raced in SCCA ’ s top class, repeatedly and consistently laying waste to their Corvette competition. Drivers such as Ed Lowther, Sam Feinstein, Hal Keck, and the young Dick Smith continually found themselves occupying all three podium spots, adding to the continued desirability of all other Shelby street cars and to the lasting legacy of the 427 Cobra.

CSX 3271 The Cobra offered, in addition to its excellent quality and stunning presence, benefits from an extensive documented ownership history detailed in the world registry of the Shelby American Automobile Club. Invoiced on April 10, 1966, CSX 3271 was delivered new, along with CSX 3284 and a Group 1 Mustang, to Hayward Motors in Hayward, California on October 10, 1966. At $6,145, the cost of the Cobra was staggering when compared to the $50 shipping price. Mr. Wayne Skiles of Oakland, California subsequently purchased the car in the early 1970s but by late 1975 advertised it for sale: “ AC Cobra 427. Exceptional doesn ’ t nearly describe this 30,000-mile car. Straight, clean, and reasonably priced at $18,000. Many extras. If you want a 427, you won ’ t find a better one for sale. Consider a later model Miura or Daytona. No flakes! ” This casual advertisement for such a spectacular sports car was answered by Mr. Lonnie W. Stovall of Lake Tahoe, who met Mr. Skiles and purchased the car on the spot.

The car ’ s association with the West Coast continued for quite some time, as it was purchased by another Californian, Mr. Steve Murphy in the mid 1980s. Upon his acquisition of CSX 3271, the car had been painted black and apparently had chrome side pipes, a chrome roll bar, a hood scoop 9.5" rear Halibrands, and a California plate reading “ XGD 219 ” , which it still carries today. Murphy also participated in a number of vintage racing events. The car ultimately changed hands twice more, briefly found itself in Kentucky, until finally finding its way back home to California and onto the dais before you.

Finished in Raven Black, as it was repainted much earlier in its history, it is otherwise largely original, retaining its original leather upholstery, side curtains, and convertible top. As presented, it has been maintained under the expertise of a noted West Coast Cobra expert.

This particular Cobra stands out from the pack with its aggressive black styling and historically significant modifications, which have been preserved and evidence this car ’ s well-documented history. CSX 3271 has served to satisfy the big block cravings of a select few Shelby aficionados and is today once again on the market, exclusively with RM Auctions, bound for another loving aficionado ’ s garage and possibly even a nearby racetrack.

Reference Number 11654

as of 7/25/2007

Car 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra
VIN CSX 3271 
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