Fifty years after the 427 Shelby Cobra was first introduced, the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust will complete and offer to the public the remaining original Competition Chassis race cars that were started in 1965. Built faithfully to the original specifications, the roadsters will be sold as race cars, just as Carroll Shelby intended when he launched the car in 1965
“Carroll simply couldn’t and wouldn’t let the competition overtake him, especially Ferrari”
“The Shelby 427 Cobra is the most iconic car in post-war history,” said Neil Cummings, co-Trustee of the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust. “Shelby American didn’t complete the mandatory 100 units in time to race for the FIA World Championship in 1966. This was because Henry Ford II (“Henry the Deuce”) wanted Carroll to drop what he was doing and take over Ford’s GT-50 race program. Carroll famously replied ‘Ferrari’s ass is mine,’ which it was, with the Shelby-led team promptly winning Le Mans and three straight FIA World Championships in the hallowed ‘Prototype’ racing class. Carroll put the 427 S/C program on hold after building 53 of the original 100 homologation cars. The 50 year anniversary of the big block Cobra seemed an appropriate time to finish the last of the Cobras.”
Each authentic 427 S/C Shelby Cobra comes with the CSX VIN and badge number originally assigned in 1965, as well as an “MSO” and “Title” document signed by Carroll Shelby himself. As a pure race car, this vehicle cannot be registered for use on the streets. But, each car will be specially registered and have a unique place in the Shelby American World Registry, not to mention American muscle car history.
The Shelby 427 S/C indeed has a fascinating history. From 1962-1964, Shelby American dominated racetracks worldwide with its powerful, diminutive 289 Cobra, leading to the now internationally famous Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which won the FIA World Manufacturers’ Championship in 1965. This is the first, and to this day only, time an American car has won the World Championship on European soil. Then rumors swirled that GM was readying a new big block Corvette and Ferrari was said to be building a more powerful car to outrun the Shelby.
“Carroll simply couldn’t and wouldn’t let the competition overtake him, especially Ferrari,” said Joe Conway, co-Trustee of Shelby’s Trust. “The Ford small block engines had reached their limit for power and the leaf spring suspension could not handle additional stress given the 289 Cobra’s paltry weight, making it lighter wasn’t an option. Ever looking forward to ‘the next car,’ Carroll and his Shelby American team designed an entirely new Cobra. It was bigger and faster, but at the same time maintained the unique, classic features of all the Cobras.”
Shelby American and Ford Motor Company together designed an entirely new coil spring suspension and a stronger frame to accommodate more power. At Ford’s behest, Shelby fitted the 427 NASCAR-based engine into the model. In January 1965, the CSX3000 series Cobra was unveiled at Riverside Raceway.
The first 100 cars were designated to be competition versions so that the car could compete in FIA races, ergo the “S/C” designation appearing after “427.” Only 53 were completed before Henry Ford II made his special request of Carroll to take on Ferrari in the “Prototype” class. This, in reality, marked the end of the Shelby Cobra builds…998 in all. Until now!
Carroll Shelby began the sacred task of completing the “Remaining 43” in 1988 when he hired the legendary restorer Mike McCluskey, who began the painstaking job of making the tooling, jigs and fixtures necessary to build these vintage cars true to their original specifications.
Carroll completed and sold five of the 427 S/C Cobras for $500,000 each between 1990 and 1992. Then AC Cars foolishly tried to claim the Cobra and its heritage by spreading false rumors about Carroll and Shelby American in automotive publications and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Shelby brought suit to establish not only his rights, but also to compel this English company, once and for all, to acknowledge America’s and Shelby’s place as the “Manufacturer of Record” of all the original 260, 289 and 427 Cobras (998 in all), and the ones responsible for the Shelby Cobra’s incredible racing successes. The litigation with AC Cars went on for years. But, ultimately, Shelby prevailed on all fronts, and the owner of AC Cars signed a written statement (published worldwide) acknowledging the truth that Shelby was the “creator,” “Manufacturer of Record” and racing guru for all of the Cobras.
“After we forced AC Cars to admit that the Cobra was purely Carroll's vision and all Cobras were built by, or under license to Shelby American, Shelby contemplated restarting production,” said Cummings. “But, he was already busy building continuation component Cobras and moving his operations to Las Vegas. Carroll told me he wanted to suspend the 427 Cobra Competition Chassis program until after his passing so he could focus on other projects involving new model year vehicles.”
In 2014, the Carroll Shelby Trust followed Carroll’s wishes and undertook the job of gradually finishing the remainder of the 427 S/C Cobras.
Each competition chassis Cobra features a spectacular aluminum body clad in a customer’s choice of color and with a black interior. The engines will be period correct and supplied by the Carroll Shelby Engine Company, which is owned and operated by Bill DenBeste. Each will be fitted with an cast-iron Ford side oiler 427 block, forged internals and correct medium riser cylinder heads. The engine will be dressed with period correct parts including an Aviaid oil pan, sandcast Cobra valve covers, medium riser intake, Le Mans carburetor and turkey pan air box.
All of that power will run through a blueprinted 4-speed correct gearbox. The Shelby features the original style swept forward shifter, horn button, Raydyot mirrors and Lucas headlights to add to the overall aesthetic authenticity. It comes with a MSO listing it as a 1965 Cobra signed by the late Carroll Shelby for ownership purposes.
A portion of the sale from each 427 Shelby Cobra Competition series car will be donated to help construction of the "Shelby Automotive Museum” in Los Angeles, California, which is now in the design and build stage. This tax exempt 501(9)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation was created by Carroll Shelby to celebrate American racing heritage, including Mr. Shelby's contributions to that history.