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 - 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.



Jaguar F-Type

2020 Jaguar F-type revealed 

2 Dec 2019
Lexus RC F

2019 Lexus RC F review

2 Dec 2019

RM Sotheby's Abu Dhabi auction highlights

29 Nov 2019

BMW Z4 M40i pumped up to 394bhp by AC Schnitzer

29 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Jaguar F-Type

2020 Jaguar F-type revealed 

An updated Jaguar F-type has been revealed with a consolidated engine range and new front end
2 Dec 2019
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris GR-4 teased in new video

Gazoo Racing to follow up its 2019 WRC championship with an all-new car based on the GR-4 hot hatch
4 Dec 2019
Bentley Continental GT

Bentley Limited Edition Continental GT revealed

Inspired by Bentley’s success at Pikes Peak, the Limited Edition Continental GT packs some visual punch based on the record-breaking racer
3 Dec 2019
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019