There is no classic car that is more valued by enthusiasts and collectors than Shelby Cobra, the muscular roadster of Carroll Shelby.
The car was born in Corvette in 1962 as a challenger to Ford. At the time, Shelby was a racing driver who won an award at Le Mans.
The ingenuity met a chance when the English company AC Cars stopped production of its Ace sports car, because the BMW engine supplier stopped producing the 2.0-liter six-cylinder in-line engine that propelled it.
The compact, lightweight, small block V8 Ford Motor Company debuted in 1960 with the advent of the new generation of one-piece models such as Falcon and Fairlane. Shelby thought that the 260 V8 would fit into Ace’s engine compartment, and his racing connections at Ford would allow him to get engines for what would become Shelby Cobra.
The screwing of the 260-horsepower V8 into the outdated British chassis produced a fast car – with a maximum speed of 140 km / h – but not one that would bear tolerable driving or service. The increase in power using a 271-horsepower engine with 289 cubic inches in 1963. Only aggravated these problems.
“I was with all Cobra’s power, and the rear wheels bounced and jumped so much that I could barely keep the beast on the road,” he wrote a car and driver review in an early Cobra magazine test.
Of course, Shelby’s solution was to introduce an even larger engine! However, Ford’s monstrous large block 427 “side oiler” would never fit into the air conditioning frame. To accept the massive mass of 427, the Shelby team designed a new chassis with wider, stronger frame rails, improved independent coil spring suspension, and more precise rack and pinion control in place of a lightweight frame, rear suspension with leaf spring, and a ball-bearing steering system.
The five-inch-wide car earned the swanky fender flares that gave the 427 Cobra the voluptuous lines that made it a poster car, while the 260 and 289 slim-hip Cobras were largely overlooked.
So while the name remained the same, the 1965 Cobra had sexier lines and a completely new chassis that made the car faster and more comfortable to drive, or more accurately, “less uncomfortable.”
The 510 horsepower 427 still vaporizes the rear tires by applying more than the slightest pressure to the accelerator, while its immense volume weighs on the front of the car. A recent disc in an accurate replica confirmed that it is difficult to put the power of the 427 on the ground, but it is impossible not to smile broadly when trying.
Even with the terrible tires available in the 1960s, Car and Driver was able to run the 427 Cobra to 100 km / h and stop it again in 14.5 seconds. And as the magazine reports in its 1965 review, test driver and driver Shelby Ken Miles achieved the same with racing rubber in 13.8 seconds. Hemmings Motor News reports that the car’s 0-60 time was just 4.0 seconds.
“It was one of the fastest cars of the 60s, 70s, 80s, even up to the 90s and is still quite fast,” noted collector Jay Leno in his Garage program by Jay Leno.
Ultimately, Shelby built three hundred forty-eight 427 cobras, although about 100 of them used a cheaper, less powerful 334 instead of 427 high-power Ford 428 block engine. This added seventy-five 260 cobras and five hundred eighty 289 cobras to the sum. Production ended in 1967, when just over 1,000 characteristic roadsters were produced.
The rarity of these original cars meant that prices paid by collectors reached levels that keep them away from the hands of ordinary enthusiasts. Hagerty, a specialist in classic car insurance, estimates that the highest-value Cobra 427 S / C from 1965 is worth $ 2.4 million. One in just “excellent” condition is still good for $ 2.15 million, while a “good” car would cost $ 1.85 million, and a “fair” car is worth $ 1.5 million.
These prices drive the Cobra replica industry, which cannot collect and value the original cars, though they ensure accessibility for the rest of us. 60,000 false cobras were built in the entire industry. Some of them have very questionable quality, but others are better than original cars.
Today, Shelby American sells you the new and improved Cobra S / C 2018 for around $ 115,000. This provides access to the authentic Shelby Cobra for less than one-tenth of the price of the original 1965 car, making it a modern classic available to car enthusiasts who have not set a success story in Silicon Valley.