Lot 156

1965 Shelby 427 Competition Cobra

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United States | Phoenix, Arizona

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Chassis No.
CSX 3011
Documents
US Title
  • A true triple threat: The only Cobra to feature on the Cobra Caravan, in a major Hollywood movie, and in-period competition
  • Utilized by Shelby as a part of their famous Cobra Caravan publicity tour
  • Documented as Elvis Presley’s “hero car” in the 1966 MGM Studios film Spinout
  • First owned and raced in period by the Formula One driver Moisés Solana Arciniega
  • Retained by the consignor between 1980 and 1993, then reacquired in 2006

It was classic Carroll Shelby, a delightfully mad idea made even madder: Take the already ferocious 289 Cobra . . . and “upgrade” it with a 427. Ford’s engineering department assisted in redeveloping the Cobra platform to take the massive powerhouse, re-engineering the chassis to be five inches wider, and mounting coil springs all around. To contain wider wheels and tires, the body swelled with menacing fender bulges, as if it could barely conceal the throbbing 500 horsepower being produced by the cast-iron 427-cubic-inch V-8 within.

Shelby intended to race the 427 Cobra in the FIA’s Group 3 GT-class, and planned to produce 100 competition cars for homologation purposes. But by the time FIA inspectors arrived at his facility, only 51 of the cars had been completed, and so he was denied their approval. He subsequently canceled his order for the remaining competition cars, with a total of 53 competition chassis produced, of which 23 were completed in full race trim and sold to private teams.

These 427 Competition Cobras feature a number of differences that separate them from the standard street machine, including larger rear brake rotors with heavy-duty front and rear calipers, optional bronze suspension bushings, an external fuel filler, Stewart-Warner “Booster” fuel pump, a special 42-gallon fuel tank, as well as the front and rear jacking points and roll bar. Additionally, beneath the scooped hood, they had magnesium intake manifolds, aluminum cylinder heads, an oil cooler, rear differential cooler, and the intimidating, unbaffled side exhaust. Each was finished in primer, with a black interior, and air shipped to Shelby’s facilities upon completion.

CSX 3011, THE 427 COBRA PRESS CAR

As documented by the Shelby American Auto Club Registry, this 427 Competition Cobra (CSX 3011) was first invoiced by AC on 11 January 1965, and then subsequently completed by Shelby on 14 May. It is recorded as the only example of the initial batch of 19 competition cars which was not pre-sold to a privateer racing team.

By September, CSX 3011 had been painted Guardsman Blue with white stripes and fitted with FIA-spec Halibrand magnesium racing wheels. CSX 3011 first worked publicity duty when it was supplied (along with Ken Miles) to Jerry Titus’ Sports Car Graphic magazine staff, gracing the cover of their November 1965 issue after testing at Riverside International Raceway. In their words, “…the 427 Cobra is a brute. There's no other word for it.”

It was then subsequently included on the famous Shelby Cobra Caravan publicity tour across the USA. Paired with a GT 350 R, GT 350, Street 427 Cobra, Cobra Daytona Coupe, and a GT 40, CSX 3011 and the Cobra Caravan stopped in 12 major cities to celebrate the company’s victory in the 1965 FIA International Championship for GT Manufacturers, and to promote Carroll Shelby’s new book, The Cobra Story.

By March 1966, it was surely the most photographed and widely seen example of the company’s new competition model. Shelby derived plenty of sales from their successes in motorsports, but they also needed to get their race-proven cars out in front of the buying public—in Ford showrooms, auto exhibits, and the media; CSX 3011 was a crucial sales tool of the latter effort.

CSX 3011 further cemented its title as de facto 427 Competition Cobra Press Car when, on 7 February 1966, it was loaned to MGM Studios for the filming of an upcoming movie starring “the King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley. The resulting project was later released in October 1966 under the title Spinout, with a plot involving a single, road-racing musician who finds himself trapped between three different women seeking to marry him. CSX 3011 (then painted white) features prominently in the popular film as none other than the “hero car” of the protagonist, Mike McCoy, as played by Elvis. Having completed filming 10 weeks later, Shelby American invoiced MGM Studios on 25 April for a grand sum of $12,595.

INTO PRIVATE HANDS

In October 1966, CSX 3011 was finally sold into private ownership. On 11 October, Shelby American invoiced Formula One driver Moisés Solana Arciniega for the car, freight delivery, and a compendium of additional racing spares totaling $11,393. The order was placed via Ford of Mexico, and CSX 3011 was subsequently delivered on 15 October to Laredo, Texas in immediate preparations for a race Solana had entered. Interestingly, Solana specified the fitment of a dry sump lubrication system, Koni shocks, and shoulder harnesses.

The talented Mexican driver had previously garnered much success while driving a 289 Cobra, and so this new competition model seemed a natural fit for him. Solana would race CSX 3011 several times in Mexico and the United States until he suffered a fatal accident in an unrelated hillclimb event on 27 July 1969.

From Solana’s estate CSX 3011 then passed to his close friend Juan Carlos Bolanos, who continued to race the car for several years until it suffered damage to its original body. In 1978, the car was tracked down in Mexico by Cobra enthusiast Jim Southard of Marietta, Georgia. CSX 3011 was then purchased on 9 April 1980 by the consignor—a noted Shelby Cobra collector and vintage racer, and brought to Chuck Gutke’s Cobra Restorers of Kennesaw, Georgia for a full resurrection of the highest quality.

This important 427 Competition Cobra was subsequently completed from the bare frame up with new alloy bodywork from Brian Angliss of Cobra Parts/Autokraft fame, as well as a new interior, chromed roll bar, white side pipes, and fresh coat of Rangoon Red paint. Per Southard’s correspondence, the 427 race engine found with the car in Mexico is believed to be its original unit. It was entirely rebuilt and fitted with replacement heads, a dual quad-barrel carburetor setup, and then reinstalled in CSX 3011—where it remains today. The freshly restored CSX 3011 quickly returned to the limelight when it was portrayed by Ron Caudle as the poster car for the 1984 Grand Bahamas Vintage Speed Week.

The consignor retained CSX 3011 until 1993, and then having regretted its sale, spent the interceding years trying to purchase it back; he finally reacquired it in 2006. After exhibition during SAAC 32 (2007) at Miller Motorsports Park in Erda, Utah, CSX 3011 was submitted to a restoration back to its original factory specifications, as shown during its 1965–1966 publicity duties. The renowned specialists Cobra Automotive in Wallingford, Connecticut painstakingly restored CSX 3011 over the course of three years, engaging multiple marque historians and SAAC concourse judges as consultants. A restoration summary totaling nearly $300,000 firmly illustrates that absolutely no expense was spared in returning this important Competition Cobra to a state of ideal mechanical performance and historically accurate presentation.

Newly restored, CSX 3011 debuted in 2011 during SAAC 36 at Virginia International Raceway, and promptly secured Gold Award class honors.

As a carefully treasured prize of the consignor’s significant collection of Shelby Cobras, CSX 3011 has always been thoroughly enjoyed while under their ownership. Today, it is accompanied by a restoration summary, historic imagery, owner’s manual, Spinout movie memorabilia, an original Cobra Caravan press brochure, original 1966 Shelby invoice to Moises Solana, 1965 FIA Homologation Form, 1980 bill of sale, and also copies of its comprehensive Shelby American documentation.

The 427 Competition Cobras have always been the most desirable Cobras ever built, and ownership is a dream of many Shelby enthusiasts. Perhaps even greater than its 22 427 Competition Cobra siblings, CSX 3011 is truly a triple threat of Shelby significance: It is the only Cobra to have featured in the Cobra Caravan tour, a major Hollywood movie, and in-period competition.