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Carroll Shelby’s Personal 427 Cobra at Auction

Carroll Shelby is an automotive icon. He has raced, owned race teams, and developed specialty sportscars for large manufacturers. Even with the vastness of his knowledge and experience that spans decades, a vehicle that he built in the 1960s is the thing that fans ardently praise him for to this day. One of those Shelby cars is coming to auction. 

Who is Carroll Shelby

1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby
1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby | Mecum Auctions

The Shelby Cobra is a small, muscular roadster. That in itself is not that unusual. But, what made this wide-mouthed roadster stand out from the crowd was that the lightweight car also had a Ford V8 stuffed into it. The result was stunning. Stunning because the power-to-weight ratio meant that the car could hustle unlike almost anything else at the time, or since. In fact, it was beating Ferraris on the track. 

Having said all that, the Shelby Cobra became an automotive legend. So did its creator. Automakers and specialty companies have been trying to reproduce that performance envelope ever since then. In fact, the car has been so loved through the ages that, to this day, the Cobra is the most reproduced kit car. But, Mr. Shelby was not done creating. 

More powerful Shelby Cobras

The 427 V8 engine of the 1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby
1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby | Mecum Auctions

Toward the end of the Cobra program, Mr. Shelby decided to massage the already powerful car’s performance by creating a few of the Cobras with more powerful engines. For these cars, he substituted the 289 Ford V8 for a 427 Ford V8. He also massaged the design aesthetic of the car’s body as well. The fenders were flared out even more, and a select few received a large hood scoop and side exhausts. The car’s final look was and still is intimidating, a fitting tribute to the snake it is named after.

Very few of these 427 Cobra’s were manufactured. But, Mr. Shelby had one created for himself. It was delivered to his Dallas home in March 1966. Serial number CSX 3178 was owned by him from its delivery and until the time of his death in 2012. And it can be yours.

CSX 3178 is at auction

1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby
1966 Shelby Cobra chassis CSX 3178, belonging to Carroll Shelby | Mecum Auctions

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Mecum Auctions recently announced that CSX 3178, Mr. Shelby’s personal Cobra will be part of an auction early in the new year. The car is labeled as lot F145 for an auction at Kissimmee, Florida, that is running January 7-16. It is expected that this particular unit will be one of the attention-grabbing, wallet-emptying highlights of the auction.

In recent years, original Shelby Cobras that have made it to auction have been commanding six, and sometimes seven figures. Speculation around the blogoshere about this unit for the January auction is saying that the car could reach 8 figures in a healthy world economy. But, the current world economy’s fragility has some collectors and investors being a little more cautious. So, nobody really knows how well this car will do.

This Shelby Cobra previously sold at RM Sotheby’s back in 2016 for $1,375,000. At the time, the car had a red paint finish. But, the car has since undergone a restoration back to its original specs. It is now finished in the original charcoal gray over a black interior. It has the hood sans the scoop, giving the car a nice clean look. When the gavel finally falls in January, the winning bidder will also receive some of the original delivery paperwork from the 1966 purchase.