2004 Shelby Cobra Prototype Heading to Mecum Auction in Monterey

To say Carroll Shelby was a legend in the automotive industry is a bit of an understatement. Despite many contributions over the years, the iconic Ford V8-powered Cobra roadsters are probably his best-known creations. After the original production run during the 1960s, and countless replicas over the years, Shelby and FoMoCo actually developed a new Cobra in the early 2000s. It was supposed to be the second in a new product line that also included the Ford GT and GR1.

Unfortunately, the Great Recession killed the project after the reborn GT. Ford held onto the Cobra prototype, known as Daisy, for years until it sold at auction in 2017. Now, this would-be Cobra successor will cross the auction block in Monterey, 18 years after the revived Shelby partnership was announced nearby at Pebble Beach. The seller was originally in charge of the car’s development at Ford, and has restored the prototype to operational condition.

A Shelby Cobra for the modern era

Carroll Shelby and Bill Ford Jr. introduce the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept at the North American International Auto Show 2004 in Detroit
Carroll Shelby and Bill Ford Jr. introduce the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept at the North American International Auto Show 2004 in Detroit | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Power for this particular Cobra comes not from a V8, but a 605 hp 6.4-liter V10 from Ford Advanced Powertrain. The 2005-2006 Ford GT donated the front suspension, 6-speed Ricardo transaxle, and some of the aluminum chassis parts. Global VP of Design at the time, J Mays, was in charge of the body design team for the project.

Ford’s VP of Product Development, Chris Theodore, worked closely with Carroll Shelby to bring out the essence of an original Cobra. Shelby put the prototype through its paces at Irwindale Speedway in California for 150 miles. Ol’ Shel and Bill Ford Jr. even unveiled the car at the North American International Auto Show in 2004. Under normal circumstances, it might have been made available to the public as a production vehicle.

“Unfortunately, as time went on and we started to head into the recession, the program never got approved,” said Theodore to Fox News. “So that’s why we built this more as a prototype than a concept car. I put my whole engineering team on it and it should have gone into production.”

What happened to the car?

The 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra concept  is displayed at the afterparty for the premiere of the film "XXX - State of the Union"
The 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra concept is displayed at the afterparty for the premiere of the film “XXX – State of the Union” | Photo by Vince Bucci via Getty Images

Aside from a role in the film XXX: State of the Union, the prototype sat dormant for over a decade. Theodore discovered that Ford was putting the car up for auction after he retired from his position with the company. He then purchased it at the Greensboro Auto Auction in 2017, for $825,000.

“I mortgaged both houses, but I got the car. We got her back running and she’s better than ever and just a joy to have and that you can take on the track,” Theodore told Fox News. “Now I’ve got it licensed and certified for the roads,”

When Theodore received the car from Ford, it had various drivetrain components that had been welded shut, for liability purposes. With the intimate knowledge and connections from his days at FoMoCo, however, he was able to overcome those hurdles. Now that Daisy is driveable and street-legal, Theodore is now ready to pass on the vehicle and responsibility.

“I’m too scared to take it out on the road because it’s the last Shelby Cobra. It’s one of one. There are no others and the engine’s one of four, so it needs a great caretaker to enjoy it.”

The next chapter for the last Cobra

With an estimated value of $1.5 to $2 million, this should be an interesting highlight at Mecum’s upcoming auction in Monterey. It’s assigned to Lot S105 and is scheduled to cross the auction block on Saturday, August 14, 2021. More pictures and details can be found at the Mecum Auctions listing.

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