1965 Shelby 427 Cobra
$1,250,000 - $1,500,000 USD
Lot Location: Monterey, California
RM | Sotheby's - MONTEREY 15 - 17 AUGUST 2019
The Fonvielle Collection
- Offered on Friday
- Offered from the Fonvielle Collection
- Built to SCCA A-Production specifications when new; regularly raced through 1971
- Winner of the 1969 Northeast SCCA Division Championship, with numerous wins to its name
- Fully restored by a well-known Cobra specialist to as-raced specifications
- A spectacular Cobra in all regards, ready to drive, race, show, and enjoy
Both Carroll Shelby and the automobiles that bear his name gained their place in automotive history from their success in racing. As a result, the Cobras that are considered the most valuable today are those that proved themselves on the track in period.
While coil-spring 427 Cobras can be divided in to five series by specification—competition, semi-competition (S/C), and three different series of street-specification—these street cars still made a fantastic platform on which to go racing. Many owners saw this potential after taking delivery of their Cobras and converted their cars when new to race in SCCA events, and CSX 3125 is one such example, boasting a known history from new, having spent its formative years on the track and, importantly, racing at the front of the pack.
Born as a very early street-specification 427 Cobra, the 25th example built, finished in white paint with a black interior, CSX 3125 was originally shipped to Gene Hamon Ford of Texas City, Texas, and invoiced on 17 September 1965. According to the SAAC World Registry of Cobras & GT40s, its first known owner, also believed to be the original owner, was Ron Lambeth of Dallas, Texas. Shortly after acquiring the car, perhaps because he couldn’t acquire one of the full competition-specification 427 Cobras, Lambeth proceeded to convert CSX 3125 to SCCA A-Production specifications, widening the original sunburst wheels, fitting larger brakes, competition windscreen, a roll bar, and side pipes, as well as fitting a 36-gallon fuel tank and aluminum cylinder heads, all sourced directly from Shelby. It appeared with Lambeth at the wheel at a number of regional races during the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Lambeth was clearly quite successful in CSX 3125, qualifying for the American Road Race of Champions held at Daytona in 1967.
Moving northeast with its next owner, the well-known racing driver John Paul Sr. of Burlington, Massachusetts, CSX 3125 continued to race in SCCA events very successfully, and Paul placed 1st in the Northeast division in both 1968 and 1969. Deciding to sell the car after the 1969 season, Paul’s for-sale advertisement clearly listed the car’s accomplishments and specification at the time:
427 Cobra. 1969 Northeast Division Champion, ’68 Area 1 Champion, 11 wins, 2 seconds in 15 starts last two seasons, all legal options, reinforced suspension, bronze bushings, big brakes, close-ratio transmission, fuel cell, rain tires and wheels, Aeroquip lines, etc.
The Cobra remained unsold through early 1970, at which point the drivetrain and chassis were refreshed and the car was repainted. Afterwards, CSX 3125 was sold to Sylvia Smith of South Burlington, Vermont, purchased through her driver, Paul Chroinere, trading a road-specification 427 Cobra (CSX 3309) in the process. CSX 3125 returned to the track for the 1971 season, qualifying again for the American Road Race of Champions that year held at Road Atlanta. The Cobra arrived with a fresh engine built by Gus Zuidema and raced to an 8th in Class and 14th overall finish, making it the highest-finishing A-Production Cobra that year. Importantly, photographs of the car racing in period are included in the car’s history file.
Ending its period racing career on a high note, CSX 3125 was offered for sale in early 1972 but would remain with Smith until 1974, when it was purchased by Peter Sheridan of London, England, and shipped across the pond, where it was registered RRB 500 and recommissioned for street use. It remained in the UK until 1980, when it was sold to Rolf Saxer of Switzerland, who retained the car for the next sixteen years.
Sold to Bertold Theussen of Xanten, Germany, in 1996, a full restoration of CSX 3125 was commissioned, with work commencing in 1997. Upon stripping the paint, both its blue-with-white-stripe paintwork, the colors it raced in, and the original white were found underneath. Furthermore, at that time it was confirmed that the car retained its original chassis, body, engine, transmission, and interior. The car remained in this configuration until it was purchased by Mr. Fonvielle in 2005.
At that point the car was sent to a well-regarded Cobra specialist for restoration and returned to its as-raced specification, finished in blue with white stripes. It was found to be in supremely original condition, as many of its original parts as possible were retained during the restoration, and whatever parts needed replacing were kept. At this time the engine block was replaced with a correct side-oiler block, as the original block was too worn out to be restored. Its original seats and interior with incredible, well-preserved patina were retained. Furthermore, the car comes with its original owner’s manual, still boasting handwritten notes listing the racing-specific components sourced for the car via Lew Spencer at Shelby (even including Spencer’s direct number at Shelby American) when new, as well as a set of original bumpers, wheels, its original aluminum cylinder heads (new aluminum heads were fitted during the restoration to preserve the originals), its original widened sunburst wheels, original brake calipers, and other spares.
Boasting a fascinating period competition history to its name and now restored to as-raced specifications and livery, finding a 427 Cobra in such good condition can be difficult, especially one that has been raced so successfully when new. What is even more impressive is that while numerous Cobras that were raced often endured crashes and heavy modifications, this car achieved impressive results on the track, was driven on the street, enjoyed in vintage racing, and managed to escape such trauma. It remains as it did in period, unlike many of its peers. After a recent drive, an RM Sotheby’s Specialist commented that this car is beautifully restored and an absolute blast to drive in all regards, perfectly dialed in and ready to enjoy. CSX 3125 would certainly stand out in any collection of sports and racing cars as a car that was used and enjoyed just as its namesake intended.
Please contact an RM Sotheby’s representative for a full list of parts accompanying the car.