By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of Motostalgia 

Cobra replicas have been on the market for over 30 years, leaving buyers spoiled for choice with DIY kits, complete rollers and even a few dedicated aftermarket parts suppliers. There’s more ways than ever to get into a Cobra these days, and ways to fit most budgets also. But what if there was no budget, and you sought to order up a no-expense-spared car? What would that car look like? While I’m not describing my own situation, I’m fairly certain you’ll agree that this Shelby CSX 7000 continuation car is an appropriate result for a no-holds-barred build.

Those looking for a no-compromise Cobra will probably find themselves at the door of Shelby American. There are plenty of companies these days that are capable of building Cobras equivalent to Shelby today, but few can match the prestige and resale value you get with these continuation cars. Shelby offers four models for the Cobra roadster, the CSX4000-CSX6000 427 S/C, the CSX8000 Slab-side 289 roadster and the CSX7000 289 FIA racer (with an optional 50th anniversary spec available). The choice between the early 289 and later 427-style is a personal one with no wrong answer. Many go for the curvaceous body and big-displacement grunt of the 427, while others prefer the rev-happy small block and nimble figure that helped win the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965. 

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If the slender profile and rev-happy 289 Windsor engine does it for you, then it’s hard to beat a good FIA racer. These cars were some of Shelby’s most serious competitors and were piloted by the best, including legendary drivers Ken Miles, Phil Hill, Bob Johnson and Bob Bondurant. They’re visually unique and instantly recognizable from their special cast wheels, three-post roll bar, under-car exhaust and low-raked windshield.

The 289 FIA roadster seen here is a clean-cut homage to the original, and is definitely the product of a no-compromise Cobra build. One look at the car and its spec sheet reveals this Cobra was built to be as close as possible to the original in form and function. Like Shelby's first FIA racers, the car rides on a 3-inch diameter tube chassis with upper transverse-leaf spring suspension and FIA alloy wheels. But the big-ticket item here is the Cobra’s body. The first buyer bit the bullet and checked the option for aluminum bodywork, which can add $50,000 or more to the cost of a build, but surely puts this car in a different league. 

If you’re going to apply paint to beautiful, hand-shaped bodywork, it better be right, and the Wimbledon white and Guardsman blue doesn’t disappoint. All together, the exterior is flawless and is just about as honest as it gets in a Cobra replica. If you were aiming to fool any onlookers or tire-kickers, here’s your car.

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There aren’t any letdowns in the interior either. The correct assortment of Stewart-Warner gauges are laid out on the dash with the speedometer in front of the passenger, instead of the driver. This was due to the FIA rulebook, which mandated a speedometer be present. To let the FIA inspectors know what Shelby thought of their rulebook, the speedometer was on the opposite side of the cockpit, almost entirely out of sight. 

Powering the Cobra is Ford’s 289 cubic-inch Windsor engine topped with four genuine Weber carburetors, an upgrade that can cost up to $6,000 on its own. There’s nothing glamorous under the hood though, everything is purpose-built for speed and lightness, with only a few practical modern improvements. 

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It’s hard to find any flaws to knock this Shelby on. The car is so honest in construction and appearance that most would probably believe it’s the genuine article. But unlike the real thing, you won’t have to feel guilty for taking this one out for a good flogging on the track or your favorite back road.

This CSX Cobra has been through two caretakers since new, meaning it should sell for a nice discount over the MSRP. So if it’s a no-compromise Cobra on a budget that you’re looking for, check out Motostalgia’s Amelia Island auction on March 10.

Motostalgia Amelia Island Auction 

5:00pm, Saturday March 10, 2018

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