The Most Expensive Shelby Cobras Ever Sold

Posted May 09, 2018

By Jason Mueller of A1autotransport.com

The Shelby Cobra is an iconic sports car with a distinguished history as a racer. However, it never achieved high production numbers, as just 998 Shelby Cobras were built during its original production run from 1961 to 1968 (1).

The Cobra’s rarity, combined with its historical prestige, has led to some truly staggering numbers when a coveted Cobra comes up for auction. In fact, you may want to start saving now if you’re looking to add one of these to your collection. To help you get a better idea of just what kind of prices this iconic automobile can fetch at auction, let’s take a look at the Shelby Cobras that have sold for the highest prices around the world. Note: all prices have been adjusted for inflation.

Before delving in, it's important to note that a partnership with Ford resulted in the production of nearly 14,000 Shelby-branded Mustangs between 1965 and 1970. While not the iconic Cobra, (even though some models bore the name Cobra) some of these cars are viewed with nearly the same reverence as the original Shelby line (2). For that reason, they've been included at the start of our list as an honorable mention, as their prices when sold are also impressive.

Honorable Mention: The Shelby Branded Mustangs

1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible

Thesupermat Gt350

By Thesupermat - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45999125

This 1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible is the first of three Mustang-platform Shelby cars on the list. In 2008, the car sold at Barrett Jackson for $742,500. Like many of the cars on the list, its top selling point is its ownership history. Carroll Shelby himself, the brand’s creator, once owned and drove this particular vehicle (3). The car’s hammer price, when adjusted for inflation, comes out to $877,837.

1965 Shelby GT350R


Next on the list and crossing the million dollar threshold (when adjusted) is this 1965 Shelby GT350R, one of only 34 of its type ever built. It sold for $990,000 in 2012, which would be roughly $1,072,000 today. Originally owned by Richard Jordan, this car participated in some race events in the 1970s but had been stored since 1986 when it went up for auction (10).

1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake


This was the most expensive Mustang ever sold when it went for $1.3 million at an auction in 2013 ($1,392,690 million today). Originally built to test high-performance Goodyear tires, this GT500 was equipped with the engine from a Ford GT40, and its original sticker price was higher than even the original Shelby 427s.

Due to its high sticker price, it was never produced for sale, so this is truly a one-of-a-kind car (10).

The Real Deal: Most Expensive Shelby Cobras Ever Sold

1967 Shelby Cobra 427


The numbers covered above are quite respectable, and much in line with some of the more affordable Cobras included here. However, those prices are nothing compared to what the most sought-after and expensive Cobras can command on the collectors market.

At the lower end of the spectrum, this particular Cobra sold for $1,045,000 at an auction this spring - after being heavily promoted as a hidden gem which had been gathering dust in a garage for decades (4). Among its major selling points were the retention of some original features that are often removed in the restoration process - such as factory stickers and badges, and its original etched chassis number.

It is a rare example of a somewhat less-than-perfect Cobra achieving high auction prices, and auctioneer Gooding & Co. noted that it will probably need some careful mechanical and cosmetic attention to reach its full potential (5).

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster

Sold for $935,000 at Barrett Jackson's Scottsdale 2007 sale, this 1966 Shelby Cobra bears Carroll Shelby’s signature on the glove compartment door, underneath the inscription “one of the rarest / CSX3301.”

That auction price would be equal to $1,122,068 today, but more recent attempts to auction this one-of-a-kind car haven’t brought the same prices. It obtained a hammer price of $735,000 ($787,405 today) at a Florida auction in 2013 (6).

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Semi-Competition”

This 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Semi-Competition” is another recent entrant in the Cobra auction record books. Sold by Sotheby’s in January 2018 for $2,947,500, this “Semi-Competition” Cobra is one of only 29 built and offered to the public. It's also one of very few that survived without significant race-related wear and tear (7). It is well-documented and was kept in Australia as a show car for many years before being sold to an American, who had it restored before it was successfully auctioned off this year.

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake


The third 1966 Cobra on this list sold for $5.5 million in 2007, which is equal to roughly $6.6 million today. Promoted by auctioneer Barrett-Jackson as one of only 23 of the 427 competition roadsters ever manufactured, this Cobra began life as a competition racer and was modified to be a street-legal car a year after it was built (8).

It is one of only two Super Snakes ever made, with the other briefly owned by Bill Cosby. The Cosby Super Snake was sold to a collector, who eventually destroyed it by driving over a cliff (8). This accident made this particular vehicle the last surviving Super Snake in existence - which explains its high selling price.

The car was again auctioned in 2015, netting $5.1 million, which was a bit of a step down from its 2007 hammer price (9).

1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe


The second most expensive Cobra ever sold, this car was built by Carroll Shelby to take on the Ferrari racing team in the FIA World Manufacturers Championship. It raced at Daytona, Monza, Spa, and Nurburgring. It finally was able to capture the title at the Manufacturers Championship in 1965, while being driven by racing icon Bob Bondurant. The 2015 Lake Garnett Grand Prix Revival event in Kansas honored the 50th anniversary of this car’s race victory, with a lineup that included a number of showroom-quality Cobras.

At an auction in 2009, this notable racer went under the hammer for $7.25 million, the equivalent of $8,382,676 today (11).

1962 Shelby Cobra 260 CSX2000

Jaydec Csx2000

By Jaydec at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9952757

The first Shelby Cobra ever built sold for $13.75 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2016. It was (and still is) the most expensive American car ever sold at auction, in no small part due to its historic nature. The Sotheby’s listing for that auction details how it was the first Cobra to enter the U.S. - and it didn't even have a motor installed when it first shipped over. The CSX 2000 was collected at the L.A. Airport by Carroll Shelby himself – and taken back to Dean Moon's shop where they put in the 260 cubic inch V-8 engine (12).

Greg Miller, a well-known collector with a number of other valuable Shelby cars in his garage, made the winning bid. This was some years after Carroll Shelby himself rebuffed Miller’s father in an earlier attempt to acquire this car (13). In an interview with classic car magazine Hemmings shortly after the auction, Miller stated his intention to avoid restoration so as to preserve the historic originality of the car.

SOURCES:

Note: all currency conversions done via Google (search “X GBP to USD” or similar)

Note 2: all inflation calculations done via https://www.bls.gov/data/infla...

(1)

https://www.hemmings.com/magaz...

(2)

http://www.thecarsource.com/sh...

(3) - primary data source for sale prices + info

https://www.borro.com/uk/borro...

(4)

https://www.goodingco.com/vehi...

(5)

http://autoweek.com/article/au...

(6)

https://www.sportscarmarket.co...

(7)

https://www.rmsothebys.com/en/...

(8)

https://azure.barrett-jackson....

(9)

https://www.roadandtrack.com/c...

(10)

http://www.mustangandfords.com...

(11)

https://www.mecum.com/news/200...

(12)

https://www.rmsothebys.com/mo1...

(13)

https://www.hemmings.com/blog/...

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