Lot 314

Monterey 2023

1965 Shelby 289 Cobra


$1,160,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
CSX 2407
US Title
  • Desirable rack-and-pinion ‘street’ Cobra converted for racing when nearly new
  • Documented by the SAAC Registry; acquired by the current owner in 2002
  • Previously owned, modified, and raced by NART cofounder, George Arents III
  • Mechanically restored in 2005 by Cobra Automotive of Wallingford, Connecticut
  • A tempting 289 Cobra awaiting its return to the track; ideal entry for vintage racing
Please note that this lot is titled as a 1965 AC Cobra 289.

Few sports cars of the 1960s are so legendary as Carroll Shelby’s Ford-powered Cobra. Squeezing American V-8s into lightweight British sports cars was not an entirely uncommon practice during the early 1960s, though no company proved to be as successful as Carroll Shelby and his Cobra, which combined the lithe and nimble chassis of the AC Ace with eight-pot power courtesy of Ford.

By 1963, the Cobra’s initial 260-cubic-inch engine had been upgraded to Ford’s new 289 HiPo small-block V-8, offering the perfect balance of handling and power. The 306-horsepower 289 Cobra took America’s sports car market (and racing scene) by storm, and perhaps no one paid closer attention to the Cobra’s meteoric rise than competing sports car dealers. For George Arents III—racing driver and cofounder of America’s most notable Ferrari privateer racing team (NART), and partner to Luigi Chinetti’s Ferrari distributorship—the Shelby 289 Cobra was an inescapable phenomenon; he saw its impact on Chinetti’s balance sheet and NART’s race results.

Acquired by Arents in December 1964 during the rising tide of the legendary Ford versus Ferrari saga, CSX2407 represents a fascinating and unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a race-prepared 289 Cobra with stellar provenance and exceptional pedigree worth exploring in continued vintage racing.

CSX2407 was delivered new to RBM Atlanta in September 1964, and purchased by Arents three months later as a slightly used 289 “street-spec” leaf spring, rack-and-pinion Cobra then showing just 1,500 miles. The SAAC Registry notes that CSX2407 was immediately, and extensively, modified to competition specifications in early 1965. Its bodywork was revised with flared fenders, unbaffled side pipes, bespoke cooling scoops in the front fascia and rear fenders, staggered center-lock Halibrand magnesium wheels, a roll bar, and a metallic blue nose livery. CSX2407 was then entered in the SCCA Southeast Region’s A-Production class for the 1965 season, with NART member Ron Hutchinson recruited to handle driving duties.

Hutchinson’s talent aside, the rising tensions between Ferrari and Shelby at the time probably made it unpalatable for Arents to be seen racing one of his rival’s self-made cars. For his part, Hutchinson deftly wheeled CSX2407 to a close 2nd overall finish in the season standings, thanks to particularly strong, points-producing results with this Cobra at Savannah, Daytona, West Palm Beach, and also Mid-Ohio. For the 1966 racing season, the SAAC Registry notes that Arents is believed to have repainted CSX2407 in Guardsmen Blue and entered the Southeast Region’s B Production class, as Shelby’s newest 427 Cobra model poured into the SCCA A-Production class.

By late 1968, Arents had sold CSX2407 onward, and it then passed through the care of three subsequent owners until 1979, when it was acquired by the vintage racer Dale Nichols of Orlando, Florida.

During the 1980s, Nichols had the tired, race-scarred CSX2407 completely restored by noted specialist Chuck Gutke’s Cobra Restorers of Kennesaw, Georgia. At this time, the car received a 3.77 differential, cut-back doors, chrome roll bar, and its present tri-color racing livery. The reborn CSX2407 was occasionally entered in SVRA vintage racing events by Nichols over the following two decades, and in August 2002, this fascinating 289 Cobra was purchased by the consignor.

In November of 2005, the car was submitted to marque specialists Cobra Automotive in Wallingford, Connecticut for a full rebuild of its 289 HiPo V-8 engine and other miscellaneous mechanical needs. Invoices (on file) show more than $105,000 was invested to this end, and after any necessary machining and resurfacing, the car’s wholly rejuvenated engine was greatly improved with fitment of modern MSD electricals, ARP hardware, racing fuel lines, ceramic coated “Nassau style” competition headers, and a bevy of additional OEM HiPo equipment.

Subsequent to multiple days of performance testing at Sebring and Lime Rock Park, CSX2407 has since remained a regularly enjoyed prize of the consignor’s finely curated collection of significant post-war sports cars. Under their ownership this special 289 Cobra has been regularly maintained by a team of in-house professional race mechanics who most recently treated it to a rebuild of its four Weber 48 IDA carburetors.

Masterfully restored and replete with many correct features and accompanying accessories, CSX4207’s appeal is further enhanced by its early career as an independently converted, successful competition car under notable ownership. Any collector seeking to experience the iconic 289 Cobra perfect for continued vintage racing would be wise not to let this example get away.