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Shelby 427 Cobra Price, Specs, Photos & Review

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Icons like this don’t come often.

There are few cars in the world like the Shelby Cobra. It’s a car that defined an era of performance and continues to be just as loved today, if not even more than it was in its youth. It has great performance, even by today’s standards, stunningly beautiful classic looks, and most importantly, the Shelby Cobra appeals to a pure, visceral sense of driving pleasure that will always be timeless.

For a car that so perfectly embodies the definition of a driver’s car, it’s almost a shame that the Shelby Cobra is as rare as it is. However, its rarity makes it a beautiful and exclusive piece that is all the more collectible and desirable. With a 0-60 time of fewer than 4 seconds, and a top speed of 160 mph that would be able to keep up with many modern performance cars, rarity and collectibility are far from the only reason people love the Shelby Cobra. It’s one of the greatest performance cars of its day, and the innovations and dedication that went behind making that car as dynamic and powerful as it is are ones that helped the entire industry and world of cars, and especially performance cars go to new heights and dive head first into the future.

The Shelby Cobra has a look that is recognizable just about anywhere. It has classic sports car appeal, and it’s a roadster with timeless proportions that are hard not to love. One great aspect of Shelby Cobra ownership is that the car’s iconic shape is something that even people who have never heard of the Shelby Cobra would recognize and appreciate as a beautiful classic sports car. If you’re looking for an iconic, classic, and legendary car that’s a great investment, a thrill to drive, and has the potential to be the star of a car collection, the Shelby Cobra is hard to beat.

Shelby 427 Cobra Price

If you want a car that is capable of winning the world’s toughest races, the Shelby 427 Cobra price is one of the most affordable. When new in 1966 it was priced well above any other American car. This served to cover the intense engineering costs and keep it away from inexperienced drivers. Today, an unrestored original Shelby 427 Cobra for sale will start at over one million dollars.

A question we often hear is: “How much is a Shelby Cobra, and why?” The biggest determinant is supply versus demand. As these cars get older, inevitably a few will be lost from theft and forces of nature. Because there were only 998 Cobras built by Shelby American, to call them scarce is an understatement.

For a long time, the AC Cobra was priced proportionally to their Big Block brothers. The team delivered 655 AC Cobras riding on leaf springs with Small Block power. At the time of press, the 289 Shelby Cobra price is just shy of one million dollars. AC Cobra prices have stayed under seven figures because of continuation cars, so they will remain in the shadow of the Shelby Cobra 427 price.

When you consider that $7,500 was the car’s price when it was first released, they are a great investment. Most recently, a 1966 Shebly 427 Cobra was sold through Gooding & Company for $1,050,000. That example was chassis CSX 3192 and was auctioned off at their 2022 Amelia Island Auction. This price is a sign of the increasing value that is being found for the rare Shelby Cobra, solidifying its spot as an investment vehicle.

So to answer the aforementioned question, Shelby Cobra original prices were expensive and that limited the supply. Six decades later the Shelby Cobra 427 price represents a car and an automaker that tugs at the heartstrings of all automotive enthusiasts.

427 cobra roadster 7
Source: Mecum Auctions

Shelby 427 Cobra Review

The 427 Cobra began life in England as the AC Ace in 1953. It was initially offered with leaf spring suspension and an anemic straight-six. Carroll Shelby was a racer who was looking to take on the world. Ford supplied their 289 V8 and the combination was christened the 1965 Shelby Cobra.

Small block Cobras are fun, but there was a limit to their power. So after a few experiments with the 390 Big Block, Ford realized the potential of the 427 Shelby Cobra horsepower. Starting from scratch, the chassis was made of 4″ steel tubing instead of 3″. Coil springs replaced the leaves and a massive radiator was used to keep the beast cool.

For a proper Shelby 427 Cobra review, imagine incredible power, sound, heat, and vibration in one package. It turns well for an old car, but you really feel the 600-lb engine as the center of gravity. Being so nose-heavy, plan your maneuvers well in advance, and be ready for adversity. A 5-point harness and a helmet are recommended. Considering the original AC Cobra prices reflect their leaf-spring chassis, the coil-spring design that underpins every 427 Cobra makes it much more confident over broken pavement.

1967 427 cobra 8
Source: Mecum Auctions

Shelby 427 Cobra Specs

Nothing beats the feeling of a 427 Shelby Cobra specs. That is because it has a massive engine while only weighing 2,355 lbs. Depending on differential ratios, the nominal Shelby 427 Cobra top speed is 160 mph. Surprisingly quick for the era, most Shelby 427 Cobra 0-60 is 3.4 seconds.

  • Price: $1,500,000
  • Engine: Ford 427 (7-Liter) V8
  • Transmission: 4-speed Manual
  • Horsepower: 360hp
  • Torque: 419 lb-ft
  • 0-60: 3.4 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 12.2 seconds @ 118 mph
  • Top Speed: 160 mph
1967 427 cobra 11

Shelby 427 Cobra Engine

When purchasing a Shelby Cobra for sale, you receive a capable chassis wrapped around a monster engine. The Shelby 427 Cobra engine was designed for racing and heavy-duty environments. Known as the “Side Oiler” Ford added an oil gallery on the driver’s side to feed the crank bearings first and cam bearings second.

Known as priority oiling, it kept the bottom end cooler than competitors. While the Shelby 427 Cobra competition models used aggressive camshafts, the showroom model was very conservative. It is a hydraulic flat tappet with a 500 lift and only 78 degrees of overlap. This allowed the 427 Cobra mpg to be on-par with other exotics of the era. The engine and its condition can make or break the 427 Shelby Cobra price. So make sure the numbers match those stored in the Shelby Cobra CSX registry.

Perhaps the rarest aspect of the Shelby Cobra 427 engine is that some of them were larger than reported. Considering Ford was supplying the side-oiler 427 to many teams, Shelby American was forced to deliver cars with the larger 428 Cobra Jet V8. Nevertheless, it received Shelby’s custom camshaft along with a carburetor, intake, and a tuned distributor. Considering it is only 1 cubic inch larger, it hasn’t caused much division among those looking for a Shelby 427 Cobra engine for sale.

Shelby 427 Cobra Transmission

Much like most performance cars of the era, the 427 was only available with a manual transmission. Ford’s Top Loader 4-speed is nearly indestructible, and the hydraulic clutch linkage was easy to modulate. Beefy synchros can be felt through the shifter, and the close ratios make it easy to drive without using the clutch. Why can’t cars be this good again? It is doubtful that a modern manual gearbox could withstand the 427 Shelby Cobra horsepower.

Late-model Ford transmissions offer five and six speeds for those who desire closer ratios. Adding one or two overdrive gears to your Shelby 427 Cobra transmission is a stealthy way to make the car more livable on the highway and more fun when driving deep into triple-digit speeds.

Cobra 101: A Brief Breakdown of the Shelby Cobra’s Lineage

427 cobra roadster 4
Source: Mecum Auctions

Shelby 427 Cobra Interior

Aside from adding carpet, the original Cobra interior was carried over from the AC Ace. It offers two leather seats without headrests, a massive wood steering wheel, all necessary gauges, and an ignition switch. A rollover hoop was optional for the driver. Designed for the average Englishman in the early ’50s, it is a tight squeeze for many. An offset pedal box and lack of a roof are common grievances.

Shelby 427 Cobra Brakes

Prototypes of the AC Cobra all had inboard brakes. This offered the lowest unsprung weight possible. It was a costly system, so Carroll chose traditional disc brakes by Girling. Much lighter than drums of the day, it allowed the Ford Shelby Cobra weight to be under 2,400 lbs. Given the Shelby Cobra top speed of 160 mph, it was nice to know you had world-famous brakes at each corner.

Given the size of the original Shelby 427 Cobra brakes, they tend to fade in hot weather. Shelby and his team solved this by changing the entire spindle in the pit lane. Modern metallurgy has improved the original design to the point it is no longer an issue. However, should you wish to add safety, larger disc brakes can be made to fit under the original wheels of your Shelby Cobra.

Shelby 427 Cobra Standout Features

There are many standout features on the Shelby 427 Cobra that make it such a unique sports car. Upfront is the round headlights that are separated by a massive grille. When you see this front end from a distance, you can easily tell that it’s a Cobra. Along the sides are exhaust pipes that the Cobra is known for. When getting out of the car, however, you just have to be careful not to burn yourself on these after a spirited drive. Another standout feature is the muscular arches found over the wheels that give the Cobra a very pronounced silhouette.

Perhaps the most copied car of all time, there are a dozen companies that offer reproductions of the Shelby 427. One reason is that the price of an authentic Shelby AC Cobra is unreachable by the average enthusiast. Every original Cobra has a unique 4-digit code.

First Cobra Ever Heading to RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction

Starting with the first production car “CSX 2000”, every authentic car is known as a CSX Cobra. Carroll Shelby and his team kept incredible records of each car, so validating a Shelby Cobra CSX number is as easy as a phone call. A real Shelby Cobra is worth a fortune in any condition, while Cobra car replicas rise and fall with the market.

carroll shelby personal cobra 8
Source: Mecum Auctions


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