Lot 334

Monterey 2023

1966 Shelby 427 Cobra


$1,200,000 - $1,400,000 USD | Not Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
CSX 3259
Canadian Registration
  • Fully restored, correctly specified example of the ultimate American sports car
  • Well-known ownership history; documented in the SAAC World Registry
  • Formerly owned by British Touring Car Champion, Frank Sytner
  • Powered by the legendary 427-cu. in. 'Side-Oiler' V-8 engine
  • Recent major tune-up by RM Auto Restoration, including the installation of all new high-performance pushrods
  • Previously subject of a cosmetic restoration by noted Shelby guru Mike McCluskey of California

The thundering Shelby Cobra is unquestionably one of the most important American performance icons of the 20th century. The Cobra, rooted in the brilliant racing career and boundless grit of its creator Carroll Shelby, singlehandedly vaulted the Ford Motor Company’s “Total Performance” corporate racing program onto the international stage and marked a crucial step forward in Ford’s eventual dominance over arch-rival Ferrari at Le Mans during the 1960s.

Under Shelby’s leadership, and with the help of a “dream team” including Ken Miles, Phil Remington, Pete Brock, and many other racing luminaries of the period, the Ford-powered, AC Ace-derived Cobra was brutally quick and dead-reliable. It would quickly earn its stripes winning virtually anywhere and everywhere it appeared. The Cobra won the US Manufacturer’s Championship three years running, in 1963, 1964, and 1965, and with sleek Pete Brock-designed Daytona Coupe bodywork, Shelby American Inc. won the hotly contested 1965 FIA World Manufacturer’s Championship.

Uncompromising and fiercely aggressive on the racetrack, Shelby’s 289 Cobra was an instant icon, yet Shelby knew that to stay competitive, it was essential to continually increase power. Enter Ford’s mighty 427 engine: a big-block monster of almost otherworldly horsepower that moved the needle to a point never thought possible.

Shelby was initially promised a new aluminum-block version of Ford’s 390 FE engine, but corporate infighting at Dearborn resulted in him receiving an allotment of the heavier cast-iron block 427. The new creation debuted at Sebring in 1964, driven by Ken Miles. While early handling challenges clearly needed addressing, the tremendous performance potential was unmistakable.

Shelby’s team then set about creating a chassis capable of containing the 427-cubic-inch behemoth. The new design sported a four-inch tube frame and seven-inch wider body with larger fender flares—necessitated by the increased power and weight of the engine. A highly sophisticated coil-over suspension was crafted by Ford engineers (using the same computer as on the GT40), all of which still sitting on the same 90-inch wheelbase. Dubbed the 427 Cobra in a staff meeting on 7 April 1965, Shelby’s big-block cars were never mass-produced, with just over 300 built. The cars were brutally fast, and driving one continues to be a mind-bending experience.

CSX 3259

The 427 Cobra presented here, chassis number CSX 3259, is a stunning, genuine street Cobra that enjoys both excellent history and outstanding preparation. According to the Shelby American World Registry, it was originally billed by AC Cars to Shelby American on 12 April 1966, before being invoiced to Stark Hickey Ford, of Royal Oak, Michigan, in suburban Detroit, for $6,275 on 30 June. It was sold to its original owner, Jim Rayl of Kokomo, Indiana, in August 1966 and proceeded to remain in the United States until the 1970s. It is known to have accumulated only 21,700 miles by 1979. It appeared at the First Annual Brown County, Indiana, Shelby American Automobile Club meet in 1978.

The car was then exported to England and later sold to Michael Burgel of Germany in 1982. Burgel registered it in that country as “BO-W8.” While mostly street-driven, it was also raced occasionally in European Cobra events. Later, it was acquired by Frank Sytner, the 1988 British Touring Car Champion, before its return to the United States.

In 2003, the car was acquired by Doug Johnson, and the chassis was prepared for entry into the Monterey Historics. Unfortunately, it made contact with a guardrail in competition. Following the incident, the Cobra was completely restored and has since been shown numerous times.

In 2014, the Cobra underwent a comprehensive cosmetic restoration by noted Shelby guru Mike McCluskey of California. It was refinished to its original “street car” configuration in red over black (as when new), with proper Smiths gauges set in a stock dashboard as well as correct seat upholstery and carpeting. The 427 “side-oiler” was fitted with proper Holley “side-winder” intake and exhaust manifolds, as well as a single four-barrel carburetor and cast aluminum Cobra valve covers. Completing the ensemble are the car’s correct Halibrand wheels shod in BF Goodrich performance tires.

Under the consignor’s ownership, the car was the subject of a major tune up by RM Auto Restoration, which included the installation of high-performance pushrods.

With a well-documented chain of ownership from new and work by numerous marque experts to bring it to the highest levels of presentation, CSX 3259 offers an exceptional avenue into the ranks of 427 Cobra ownership.