The Shelby Cobra is one of the world’s most recognizable cars, but there’s a good chance the original AC Ace would have faded into obscurity beyond the British Isles if it wasn’t for the efforts of a certain Texas chicken farmer. If you’re not among the Cobra cognoscenti, you may not know that the archeology of the Shelby Cobra is documented and nuanced, with many variations due to running changes and need. No matter your knowledge level, all enthusiasts would relish the opportunity to own this 427-powered 1966 Shelby Cobra CSX3195 that will be auctioned on AutoHunter from February 3-13, 2023
Click here to view the listing on AutoHunter
The AC Ace was first produced in 1953 with a home-grown OHC straight-six and, later, a Bristol straight-six. When Bristol discontinued its six in 1961, Carroll Shelby just so happened to approach AC with the idea of using a V8 in the Ace chassis. AC liked the idea so Shelby approached Chevrolet with the proposition, but Chevrolet didn’t feel the need to create competition for the Corvette.
Ford, however, embraced the idea and happened to have the perfect engine for it: a modern, thin-wall “Windsor” small-block V8. The first cars came with a 260ci engine but, for 1963, Ford bored the engine to measure 289ci. Soon, a solid-lifter 271-horsepower 289 High-Performance was introduced for the Fairlane, and this is the engine that would truly create the Cobra legend. Around that time, a running change with the steering (now with rack and pinion) was made. These Cobras, called Mark II, were phased in just after the introduction of the 289.
Few cars are afforded a legend on top of a legend, but the Shelby Cobra became one of those vehicles starting in 1965. A new chassis design was used with four-inch chassis tubes (an increase of an inch), and the suspension was changed from leaf springs to coil springs. Then Shelby dropped in the big-block 427 and, as the Mark III, a new legend was born. What may be a surprise to anyone but Cobra enthusiasts is that a handful of Cobras were built with the 428, an engine in the same series but without the racing heritage of the 427.
While 343 Shelby Cobras were built with the big-block, not all coil-sprung Cobras are equal — there were variations for the street, competition and the combination of the two (semi-competition or “S/C”). There also was the Dragon Snake drag car and the Super Snake, a supercharged S/C. This particular 1966 Shelby Cobra CSX3195 is a street version that, at some point along the way, was updated to S/C specs. According to the selling dealer, it has been driven by Carroll Shelby, and owned and track-driven by Jim Farley, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company.
Of course, power comes from a 427 “side-oiler” that was reportedly previously modified (to the tune of 13.5 compression, no less) for track use by Bob Corn of Roush Industries. However, the engine was recently rebuilt, with the compression ratio lowered to something more street-friendly (runs on 93 octane) yet still produces approximately 550 horsepower at the rear wheels. Of course, a four-speed “Toploader” manual gearbox handles all that power and torque.
Though originally black and then painted red, the aluminum body has worn the signature dark blue and white paint scheme since 2012. It’s accented with a pair of yellow banners, white rondels with the number 96, and Goodyear, Koni and Autolite logos. Out back, the trunk contains a fuel cell, Odyssey Extreme battery and the tank for a Firebottle Racing fire suppression system.
Peer into the cockpit and you’ll find Smiths instrumentation consists of counter-clockwise 180-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm tachometer, and gauges for the oil pressure, coolant temperature, oil temperature and fuel level; amps are displayed on a Lucas gauge. Other features include a wood-rimmed steering wheel, AC-monogrammed metal pedals and dashboard-mounted rear-view mirror. The black vinyl buckets currently installed are substitutes for the well-worn originals, which will be included with the sale along with the racing buckets used when Jim Farley owned it. The five-digit odometer currently shows 725 miles, though the true mileage on this Cobra is unknown.
If you’ve always wanted a Shelby Cobra, CSX3195 will be auctioned to the highest bidder — you! — starting on Friday, February 3, 2023. Its sale includes documentation, owner’s manual, logbook, tool roll, driving gloves, a Shelby Cobra calendar, a vintage racing book and automotive magazines. Just so you don’t miss your opportunity on owning a 1966 427-powered Shelby Cobra, be sure to add it to your watch list pronto because you would really, really hate yourself for missing out on the opportunity, right?