First-ever Shelby Cobra sells for record $13.75 million

CSX 2000 - Carroll Shelby's first ever Cobra - set a new auction record at Pebble Beach this year

The Chevrolet Corvette is often seen as the definitive American sports car, but there is another challenger for the crown: The Shelby Cobra.

And as Cobras go, few are more important than the model auctioned by RM Sotheby’s at the Monterey sale – known as CSX 2000, it’s the very first Cobra built by the late Carroll Shelby himself.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

Fifteen minutes of to-and-fro bidding ensued before the hammer dropped at a final figure of $13.75m (£10.5m). This sees the CSX 2000 scribed into the record books as the most expensive American car sold at auction to date.

CSX 2000 was only to be upstaged by another record breaker at the RM auction. A Le Mans-winning, 1955 Jaguar D-Type left the auction block with a $21,780,000 price tag, making it the most expensive car in British history.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Cobra's story is an Anglo-American one. In 1961, Carroll Shelby contacted British firm AC Cars with the intention of fitting a V8 engine into the chassis of the Ace sports car.

After failing to secure a powerplant from Chevrolet, Shelby opted for a 260 cubic-inch (4.2-litre) V8 from Ford.

The performance increase over a standard inline-six AC Ace was significant and remains so even today: back in 1962, Road & Track magazine timed the Cobra at 4.2 seconds over the 0-60mph run, with a top speed of 153mph – both topping the “150mph” Series-1 Jaguar E-type.

This particular Cobra is the very car Shelby first crammed that Ford V8 into, and it’s notable for its early AC shell – later Cobras gained voluptuous curves to shroud the fatter tyres needed as power increased.

CSX 2000 featured in several magazines over the years – including that Road & Track test in 1962 – as well as appearing at motor shows and more recently, making appearances at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. More recently still, Shelby’s first Cobra has been on display at the Shelby Heritage Center in Las Vegas.

The appropriately-named Shelby Myers, car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, describes it as a car ‘without peers’, and one that has hugely influenced the global automotive landscape. ‘Had Carroll Shelby never decided to squeeze that high performance V-8 into its engine bay, there would be no Cobra and certainly no Shelby American, nor GT40, nor the others that followed.’

Advertisement - Article continues below

‘It is, without exception, the single most important and history-rewriting sports car ever offered at auction, after over 50 years of ownership and without ever leaving the care of its founding father,’ he adds.

CSX 2000 was joined in the Monterey sale by one of its successors, a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra, CSX 3178. This does wear the pumped-up panels of the Cobras we know and love, and also features an automatic transmission, as it was used regularly by Shelby.

The 2016 Monterey sale took place on August 19-20 at the Portola Hotel & Spa, one of several events taking place during the Monterey car week.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/lotus/202124/lotuss-badge-engineered-specials-from-cortina-to-carlton-and-vx220
Lotus

Lotus's badge-engineered specials: from Cortina to Carlton and VX220

19 Jan 2020
Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

15 Jan 2020
Visit/morgan/202113/strictly-limited-morgan-plus-4-70th-anniversary-edition-revealed
Morgan Plus 4

Strictly limited Morgan Plus 4 70th Anniversary Edition revealed 

15 Jan 2020
Visit/auctions/202106/rm-sothebys-paris-auction-highlights-lamborghini-veneno-roadster-porsche-904-gts
auctions

RM Sotheby’s Paris auction highlights

14 Jan 2020
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

New models eschew turbos with detuned 4-litre from the Spyder and GT4
15 Jan 2020
Visit/toyota/gt-86/202104/toyota-gt86-vs-mazda-mx-5-vs-abarth-124-spider-lightweight-sports-car-shootout
Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 vs Abarth 124 Spider – lightweight sports car shootout

Three affordable sports cars from Japan and, er, Japan battle it out on the Yorkshire Dales
14 Jan 2020
Visit/news/202119/2020-geneva-motor-show-preview-what-to-expect-from-europes-most-important-auto-show
News

2020 Geneva motor show preview

Electrification will likely dominate proceedings, but Geneva will have plenty of performance metal to get excited about too
17 Jan 2020
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019