1966 Shelby 427 Cobra
$1,750,000 - $2,100,000
RM | Sotheby's - AMELIA ISLAND 8 - 9 MARCH 2019 - Offered on Saturday
- Less than 1,900 original miles
- The second-to-last 427 Cobra produced
- Formerly owned by noted collectors John Mozart and Lawrence Bowman
- Known history since new, documented by the SAAC Registry
- Incredibly authentic with unquestioned purity, including original “sunburst” wheels and blue dot tires
Uncompromising and fiercely aggressive on the racetrack, Shelby’s 289 Cobra was an instant icon. Racing success built on racing success – 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 once the NASCAR faction within Ford got wind of the project, plans turned to the heavier cast-iron 427. Debuting at Sebring in 1964 and driven by Ken Miles, early handling challenges clearly needed addressing, but the power delivery and tremendous performance potential was unmistakable. As such, the 427 Cobra was born, but not after a substantial amount of engineering work, which included a new chassis with 4-in. tube frame and 7-in. 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 sitting on the same 90-in. wheelbase. Termed 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.
It goes without saying that the new Cobra’s performance was mind-bending. In a road test with Sports Car Graphic a few years prior to the 427 Cobra’s release, Aston Martin had claimed that its DB4 was capable of accelerating from 0–100 mph and back down to zero in less than 30 seconds. Ken Miles had the idea to restage the test using the new 427 Cobra. It would handily beat the DB4 in 13.2 seconds! In all forms, the 427 Cobra was a mighty racing car and virtually unbeatable on the road and track.
CHASSIS NUMBER CSX 3359
The Shelby American Automobile Club World Registry documents chassis no. CSX 3359 as having been the next-to-last 427 Cobra produced. It was billed to Shelby American on 14 December 1966, equipped with a 427 V-8 with single 4V carburetor and finished in red with black interior. In other words, it was ordered as, and has always remained, a road car, one that has been enjoyed and preserved on the street – though sparingly. CSX 3359 was then sold to Pletcher Ford, of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, at $1,000 off dealer cost, and was trucked to Jenkintown on 16 October 1967. On the journey to Pletcher Ford, minor storage and shipping damage occurred, necessitating repair of the left-hand rocker panel, the Cobra emblem on the trunk lid, and replacement of the spare wheel and tire at a cost of $211.95 – as noted on repair order no. 2020.
The Cobra’s first owner was Frank W. Hultslander, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, who rarely drove it before consigning it to Hexagon Motors, of London, in November 1971; Hexagon Motors purchased the Cobra themselves, and imported the car overseas. It remained in storage from 1972 until 1976, when its existence in England was widely reported, and the car found a new owner in Richard Buxbaum, of Hinsdale, Illinois. Remarkably, when Mr. Buxbaum advertised his Cobra for sale in 1978 at $85,000, it had recorded only 512 original miles!
The car was sold to Jerome A. Shinkay, of Janesville, Wisconsin, who in the early 1980s advertised it for sale. CSX 3359 passed to James S. Ward, of Atherton, California, who resold it to the Ferrari dealer in Los Gatos. From there, it passed through the hands of Timothy Lewy into the ownership of renowned collector John Mozart, whose stable includes some of the finest performance automobiles ever built. In 1998, the Cobra was acquired by another well-known enthusiast of Ford performance products, Lawrence Bowman, in whose ownership it was pictured on page 111 of John McClellan’s The Classic ACs.
In 2004, Mr. Bowman elected to have the car restored by the well-known Cobra expert, Mike McCluskey. The entire drivetrain, including engine, transmission, differential, drive and half-shafts, and suspension, was rebuilt to original specifications, with everything pertaining to reliability and drivability being repaired and replaced only as necessary. The body was left on the chassis, due to its stunning originality, but was stripped to the bare frame and body shell, before being metal-finished, primered, and repainted the original Monza Red. Much of the interior remains original, including the wonderfully well-preserved seats, vinyl, wheel arches, and doors.
Thereafter, the Cobra was acquired by a notable private collector in the Northwest and then by the current consignor in 2014. Always a well-kept road car, it still wears its original “sunburst” wheels shod in the original Goodyear blue dot tires and is accompanied by a second set of Trigo wheels. Having driven just a handful of miles since its last public outing, this incredible Cobra is unquestionably one of the most authentic and original 427s extant.
As beautiful as it was when new, CSX 3359 presents an exceedingly rare opportunity to acquire one of the world’s most iconic cars, the 427 Cobra.