1966 AC 427 CobraSOLD
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Estimate: $700,000-$900,000 US

Sold: $675,000

Est. 550bhp, 427 cu. in. “side-oiler” overhead-valve V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent coil spring suspension, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90"

The development of Carroll Shelby’s 289 Cobra was, at its core, simple enough: take the attractive, lightweight, and well-proven AC Ace roadster and transform it into a successful production racer by replacing its aging six-cylinder Bristol engine with a powerful, deep-breathing American V8. The result was, in a word, spectacular. After modifying the chassis and overcoming initial teething problems, the 260 and 289 cubic inch V8-powered AC Cobras that followed proved to be brilliant, high performance sports cars of untold racing potential. After missing the FIA Manufacturer’s World Championship by a hair in 1964, the Anglo-American hybrid wrestled the title away from Ferrari the following year – a tremendous achievement, then and now.

Advent of the 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. The 427 may have been reliable at 500 horsepower but it required a redesigned, wider chassis with coil springs all around. The resulting chassis was supposedly three times as strong as that of a standard 289. In fact, an initial attempt at using wire wheels was sidelined after the 427’s massive torque tore them to pieces. Once again, Carroll Shelby’s 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 thereafter.

Shelby, however, was still race-hungry and his Cobras were eligible for Production Competition in SCCA regional and national racing events. Beginning in 1964, 427-powered Cobras raced in SCCA’s top class, the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC), 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.

With a two-year production run beginning in January 1965, only 291 427 Cobras were ever sold in America for street use, of which 31 were S/C (“Semi Competition”) cars built from unsold racing Cobras. Of these 291 Cobras, however, the vast majority were ultimately modified by their future owners to the desirable S/C specification, which included stripes, Halibrand Cobra 2 wheels, a hood scoop and a medium-rise intake manifold, to name but a few changes. What’s more, about one-fourth of all street cars were converted for competition duty, and most of the less desirable 428-equipped Cobras were ultimately fitted with 427s. As such, original, unmolested 427 Cobras have become tremendously desirable to collectors and enthusiasts. All this, when Corvette production was in the thousands, with 90 examples rolling off the assembly line every day! Simply put, Carroll Shelby’s hand-built 427 Cobra was the “supercar” of its day – a gorgeous, race-winning street-legal sports car with a take-no-prisoners attitude and unprecedented performance.

CSX 3187

The Cobra on offer, chassis CSX 3187, was built in October 1965 by AC Cars in England before being shipped to Shelby American’s facilities in Los Angeles, finished in red. Following completion by Shelby, it was trucked to J.D. Ball Ford in Miami, Florida, where it was to be sold new. The first owner was Glenn Kendrick of Miami, who purchased the car on March 23, 1966 and took it back to the dealer for typical warranty repairs at just under 4,000 miles.

Mr. Jack Wilhelm of Troy, Ohio owned the car by the early 1970s before selling it to J. Dawson, also of Ohio, who in turn offered it for sale in 1978 and advertised the car with only about 5,200 miles, Halibrand wheels, an oil cooler and a newly balanced and blueprinted engine. In fact, the engine work was conducted by “Ohio George” Montgomery of Ford drag racing fame and the car had since been refinished in Lincoln Starburst Silver. Dawson claimed it had been in storage since 1969.

The fortunate buyer was Jim Southard of Marietta, Georgia who sold it shortly thereafter to its current owners George and Kathleen Goudie, who elected to purchase the car because of its low mileage, lack of damage and superb overall condition. Additionally, they wanted an original Cobra factory-fitted with a 427 side-oiler, not a 428, and the rectangular tail lights. The car retained two of its original Halibrand Cobra 2 wheels, with which it left the factory. Goudie also purchased two additional Halibrand FIA wide rears. Although four new BF Goodrich tires were installed, he also retained the original Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Specials upon his insistence, which are presently fitted to the car along with the proper Halibrand wheels.

The Goudies, who lived in southern California at the time, received a great deal of attention with CSX 3187 as it was one of the few that had not been modified or altered to S/C specifications. With the advent of the kit car industry and the rise of nearly 40 Cobra replica builders, interest continued to grow in their original, factory correct Cobra and it was frequently used as the basis for various replicas. In fact, at a Pasadena car show, they were even approached by the movie studio producing the television series Matt Helm. Thomas Magnum had his Ferrari 308 and Matt Helm should have a Cobra, they reasoned. Given the reputation of studios for being rather rough with such cars, the Goudies declined the offer.

Over the years, however, as the silver paint began to show its age, they recognized an opportunity to return CSX 3187 back to its original red finish. Having since moved to South Carolina, they subjected the car to a total nut-and-bolt restoration in their own G&K Classics restoration shop. George, who has decades of experience in original Cobra restoration as well as building highly authentic 427 and 289 Cobra Replicas, left no stone unturned. He conducted most of the work himself, with the common exception of chrome-plating, and returned the car to its factory original red finish with a black leather interior. Beginning in 1993, the Goudies worked on the car in conjunction with all of the other restoration projects in their shop.

The restoration itself, however, was not frame-off as this would have required cutting all the welds loose from the body and taking the body off the frame. As the car was in outstanding damage-free condition and the body did not require replacement, all of the restoration work was done with the body on the frame.

CSX 3187 was completed in 2001 and never saw a drop of gas in its fuel tank until its appearance at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2004, where it handily secured Best in Class honors. It remains in outstanding, show-quality condition to this day and has barely been driven in its three decades of single ownership. While it was started regularly and carefully maintained, it currently shows less than 5,900 original miles.

Restoration and Video Documentation

In the eight-year long restoration conducted on CSX 3187, a 3 hour, 16 minute-long video documentary was taped in response to the countless questions about Cobra restoration the Goudies had received over the years. A DVD set will be included with the sale of the car.

A unparalleled audio-visual tour, this two-part 427 Cobra Restoration serves not only to attest to the car’s authenticity in restoration, but further helps educate potential restorers and burgeoning enthusiasts in the history, hand-made construction and various intricacies of Carroll Shelby’s Cobras, and the 427 Cobra in particular.

As Bill Moore, editor of Cobras magazine stated, “Goudie approaches his subject just as an archaeologist would approach a dig.” The excavation starts with a highly detailed and fascinating mechanical restoration, beginning with the chassis, front and rear suspension, steering and front and rear braking systems, before progressing to the rear-end, engine and transmission. The second DVD begins with the exhaust, inner body panels, Lucas electrical and wiring system and concludes with the various interior and exterior features, aesthetic and otherwise. The detail is unprecedented and even goes so far as to explain the proper locations, inch by inch, of each exterior emblem.

Above all, this video-documented restoration further confirms the high degree of originality in all of the car’s equipment, from the motor and transmission to the aluminum bodywork and even the side curtains and Goodyear Bluestreak tires. Parts that were not specifically coded “CSX 3187” are confirmed by virtue of their date codes, which consistently match the car’s build date.

The balanced and blueprinted engine is equipped with a medium-rise intake manifold, dual four-barrel carburetors and cast iron cylinder heads, as per its original delivery. It is mated to a four-speed top-loader transmission, whose date proves quite conclusively that it is original to the car. In fact, the only incorrect items under the hood are the water pump pulley and water reservoir, both of which are incorrectly chrome plated – a comparatively trivial detail.

Of course the body is original as well, as confirmed by the CSX 3187 markings on various places, including the doors, hood and trunk lid and even the floor boards and tunnel inside the cockpit. The Wilton wool carpeting is complemented by matching black Connolly leather upholstery, just as the car left the factory.

Other original equipment to this car, which was covered in the video, includes the radiator, optional Smith’s heater, Smith’s gauges (complete with clockwise speedometer), steering wheel, seatbelts, Lucas lighting, proper front and rear bumper hoops, windwings and of course the Halibrand six-spoke magnesium wheels, which were an unusual S/C feature on this car, particularly since most street Cobras were delivered with Peter Brock-designed Sunburst wheels. The original clear turn signal lights are rather atypical as well since most 427 Cobras left the factory with amber units. Contrary to the information printed in the 1997 edition of the Shelby American World Registry, however, this car retains its original top and tonneau. One of the few additions is the oil cooler, a proper Coventry Radiator unit, which was added earlier in its history and the stainless steel side pipes, which Goudie admits was the most difficult decision of his restoration as it required cutting holes into the fender. The original under-car exhaust simply created too much floor heat and drained the 427 of about 50 horsepower. As such, the holes were cut with a lip folded over, precisely as it would have been done by AC in England over 40 years earlier.

Ultimately, the only elements that would require alteration in order to return the car to full, factory-correct standards are the stainless steel screws used under the hood, various screw-type clamps and the bare aluminum wheel wells – all of which are relatively simple changes.

When considering the virtues of CSX 3187, the list is nearly endless. Not only was it an outstanding, undamaged original car with known ownership history and less than 6,000 miles from new, it has been owned by the same enthusiasts for three decades, who have dedicated themselves to an unparalleled video-documented restoration, resulting in a Best in Class award at Amelia Island. First and foremost, however, it is of course a Shelby Cobra and all that those words signify – tire-shredding performance, gorgeous styling and unparalleled desirability. It was and remains a shining testament to American big block horsepower and the Ferrari-beating vision of one daredevil Texan.

Reference Number 38585

as of 2/10/2009

Car 1966 AC 427 Cobra
VIN CSX 3187 
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