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Do you know who Carrol Shelby is? He is ultimate visionary in automotive desgin. He is the man responsible for the creation Cobra. Feel free to read his biography.
Want to learn all the specs on the original Carroll Shelby Cobra's? The 289, the 427? Well then, click here.
Now, do you want to see some serious pictures of some Cobra's? Then you need to click here.
Are you interested in the Cobra? Need some links to other cobra pages with helpful information then click here.
This is just a brief summary of the Cobra. Remember that this car was built over 30 years ago, and that the legend grows with each re-telling. And the legend changes with each person you talk to. And it's amazing how many original owners of the small number (1,000?) of 427 Cobras there were. This is not necessarily all fact, but it's pretty close.
September 1961 Carroll Shelby, upon hearing that AC Cars of Thames Ditton, England has lost it's source for its six-cylinder Bristol engine for its two-seat roadster, airmails a letter of proposal to the company to keep building the chassis for a special Shelby sports car to be powered by an American V8.
October 1961 The 221 cubic inch small block is introduced by Ford. Charles Hurlock, owner of AC Cars, sends a response to Shelby's letter, stating he would be interested in Shelby's plan as long as a suitable engine replacement could be found in the States. Shelby, upon hearing that Ford has a new small block, writes a letter to Dave Evans explaining his idea for a sports car that includes a V8 engine.
February 1962 The first AC roadster, minus engine and transmission (the first turn-key minus?), is air freighted on February 2, 1962, to Shelby's shop in Southern California. Carroll Shelby dreams up the name Cobra. He says, "I woke up and jotted the name down on a pad which I kept by my bedside-a sort of ideas pad- and went back to sleep. Next morning when I looked at the name 'Cobra,' I knew it was right." Eight hours after starting, a 260 HiPo and Borg-Warner four-speed are installed in the 260 Roadster. Shelby, along with friend Dean Moon test-drive the new Cobra.
March 1962 Shelby-American opens up shop in Venice, California.
April 1962 The first Cobra, CSX 2000, sporting a pearlescent yellow paint job by Dean Jeffries is shipped to the New York Auto Show where it appears in the Ford display. Dealers begin ordering and Shelby American formally commits to building its new Cobra.
May 1962 Shelby begins to promote his Cobra. The automotive press awed by the test drives respond with supertatives. The May 1962 issue of Sports Car Graphic describes its acceleration as "explosive." The second Cobra, CSX 2001 is air freighted from England (again minus engine, transmission) to Ed Hugas in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who preps the car. The third Cobra, CSX 2002, is air freighted to Shelby American in Los Angeles and becomes the first competition Cobra.
June 1962 Shelby American, still suffering growing pains, is slow to produce the new car. A great deal of this is due to the AC chassis, which requires extensive engineering. The first Cobra, CSX 2000 is continually being repainted a different colors for each magazine that test drives it, which gives the appearance of many cars in production.
August 1962 Shelby-American submits papers to the Federeation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) to get the Cobra classified as a GT III car. On August 6, the FIA approves the Cobra for the more-than 2-liter class in time for the FIA Manufacturers' Championship (according to the FIA guidelines at least 100 cars had to be built within 12 months, but at the time of the FIA approval, just eight Cobras had been completed).
October 13, 1962 Shelby-American enters the Cobra in its first race, with Bill Krause behind the wheel at the opening of the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix. Krause gets off to a bad start, but takes the lead at lap nine. While the new Cobra shows that it is both lighter and faster than the new Corvette Stingray, it breaks a rear hub and does not finish the race. Phil Remington begins working with Halibrand to build stronger rear hubs for the new car.
January 1963 Shelby-American, with drivers Dave MacDonald and Ken Miles take the Cobras to Riverside and place first and second, soundly beating the Corvettes. In one of Shelby-American's finest moments, Ken Miles, feeling extraordinarily confident, pits for a drink of water, then relaps the Corvettes to finish behind MacDonald.
June 1963 Shelby-American finally completes its first 125 Cobras. Although Le Mans is coming up, Ford refuses to back a Shelby Cobra for the race. Shelby, working with AC Cars and Ed Hugus, prepare one car each. The fastest Cobra finishes seventh.
September 1963 Learning from his racing, Shelby begins work with Pete Brock on the Daytona Coupe project. He feels that the roadster lacks the aerodynamics necessary for the 200mph run down the Mulsanne Straight. Cobra production passes 170. Dan Gurney becomes the first American driver to win an FIA race in an American car by winning the Bridgehampton 500KM in a Cobra.
March 1964 Shelby-American enters a 427-engined leaf-spring Cobra, at Sebring in the prototype class. During practice Ken Miles spins off course and hits a tree. The 427 Cobra is repaired before the race the next day. For the first time Shelby Cobras defeat the Ferrari GTOs. At Sebring, Carroll Shelby meets with AC Cars and Klaus Arning, a Ford design engineer discuss development of a big-block Cobra.
April 1964 After the Sebring race, Cobras leads Ferrari in FIA points for the GT III championship. Shelby-American decides to mount a European racing campaign. Two months before Le Mans, the Sarthe circuit is closed off to test the Cobras and Ford's new GT-40. The Cobra, with Dan Gurney driving, competes at the Targa Floria. Porsche triumphs over the Cobra.
June 1964 The Shelby-American Cobras win the most prestigious race in Europe; the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Cobras finish fourth overall and first in GT, defeating Ferrari.
October 1964 Shelby-American completes the 427 Cobra prototype.
November 1964 The prototype 427 Cobra is tested at Silverstone in England. The 289 Cobra wins the SCCA A-production national championship.
January 1965 The 427 Cobra, with the new tube frame, updated aluminum bodywork and coil spring chassis, is unveiled to the press at Riverside International Raceway. Shelby-American sets up shop at their new Los Angles International Airport facility. Ford turns its GT-40 project over to Shelby- American.
February 1965 With Shelby now handling Ford's racing program, the GT-40 , wins its first race, at Daytona. The new Shelby GT-350 Mustang races for the first time at Green Valley, Texas, defeating all comers. Shelby-American begins production of the coupe version of the 427 Cobra, called the Daytona. On the first outing, the new Cobra Daytona Coupe with Jo Schlesser and Harold Keck as drivers comes in first in the GT class.
April 1965 The first 427 S/C Cobra is finished. The Shelby Cobra racing team flies to Europe to continue its winning season.
March 1967 The last 427 Cobra is built.
August 1968 The last brand-new 427 Cobra is sold by Shelby.
December 1969 Shelby Automotive Racing Company closes.
February 1970 Ford cancels its racing agreement with Carroll Shelby.
January 1989 Shelby unveils the Viper at the Detroit Automobile Show.
November 1989 Shelby tools up to restart his 427 S/C program, continuing production utilizing Cobra chassis and engines that had been mis-stored in a warehouse since 1966.
Below is one lean, mean, 427 Cobra machine. An original Carrol Shelby 427 Cobra would cost you about $200,000 in bad condition. In mint condition would cost you about $350,000! Fortunately, there are several replica cars available for an average price tag of about $40,000.
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