The 3 Most Important (and Expensive) Shelby Cobra Models

The Shelby Cobra is iconic in the world of classic cars. Many enthusiasts dream of owning these sport-oriented machines developed by the legendary Carroll Shelby. And while the value of these icons has skyrocketed over the years, there are a few important models that outshined the rest. But more than that, they outpriced the rest, with these expensive American icons selling at auction for ridiculous amounts of money.

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake owned by Carroll Shelby
1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake owned by Carroll Shelby | Barrett Jackson Auctions

Carrol Shelby’s personal 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Super Snake”

This 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake belonged to Carroll Shelby himself and sold for $5,115,000. The Super Snake was Carroll Shelby’s attempt at “a Cobra to end all Cobras.” With engine number CSX 3015, only two of them were built. One went to Carroll Shelby to use as his personal car. The other went to his close friend, Bill Cosby, who said he wouldn’t buy a Shelby Cobra until it reached 200 miles per hour. I’m sure that friendship has aged well.

Regardless, the 1966 Shelby Cobra Super Snake packed 800 horsepower into the Ford 4.7 liter engine by stuffing dual superchargers inside. Even though it was built in 1966, the car that could knock the socks of most supercars today. But what I find rather ironic is that it was paired to a three-speed manual transmission. It was a heavy-duty three-speed, no doubt, but a supercar with only three gears is just strange.

That gearing didn’t matter though, because the Super Snake was “wicked fast” and a trick to drive according to Bill Cosby. His model, which was given to someone else, ended up in an accident that killed the driver. This meant by the time it went to auction, Carroll Shelby’s Cobra 427 was the only one left.

The very first 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000

1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000
1962 Shelby Cobra CSX2000 | RM Sotheby’s

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While the Cobra is considered an American Icon (since it has a Ford engine and Carroll’s name attached to it), the Cobra was actually a car built in partnership with British automaker AC Motors. Back in 1961, Ford developed a smaller 4.3-liter V8 engine, and went to AC for the bodywork. The company built a prototype, with the engine number CSX2000.

It only took a year before the 4.3-liter engine was swapped for the larger 4.7-liter engine. And when that occurred, the 4.3-liter version hadn’t even been properly road-tested. But this very first model with the 4.3 sold for a staggering $13.75 million at auction.

A fun tidbit of history: this Shelby Cobra CSX2000 was painted in multiple different colors in the early days. This made it look like more of the cars were in production, but in reality, production hadn’t kicked off yet. But the media believed that the Shelby Cobra was available, albeit impossible to get their hands on.

The 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept paid tribute to a legend

2004 Shelby Cobra Concept
2004 Shelby Cobra Concept | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

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While this is the cheapest entry on the list, the 2004 Shelby Cobra concept didn’t just pay tribute to the original car. But was designed in part by Carroll Shelby himself. After all, one of his later dreams in life was to revive the legendary car for the modern age. And it came at a time when retro-styled cars were all the rage.

It was built in 2004, but didn’t go up for auction until 2021, fetching a small but mighty $2.64 million at auction. The prototype actually had less power than the Super Snake, at just 605 horsepower from the V10 engine. Although, this makes sense, as Carroll wouldn’t want there to be a faster Cobra than his out there.

The Cobra is rich in history, winning races and impressing the masses with Carroll’s engineering genius. These three models are significant points in that muscle car’s history, and now belong to (very wealthy) enthusiasts of Carroll’s art.

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