The first-ever Shelby Cobra is expected to break multiple auction records when it goes under the hammer late August at an RM Sotheby’s event held in Monterey, California.
Serial number CSX 2000, formerly the late Carroll Shelby’s personal Cobra, will be offered for sale at Chatham, Ontario-based RM Sotheby’s August 19 and 20 auction, held during Monterey Car Week.
The car, vintage 1962, is the first Shelby Cobra ever built, and, per Shelby’s wishes, has been kept completely original.
It has never before come up for sale, making this auction an historic event. Original Shelby Cobras have tended to easily clear seven-figures prices in the past few years, so, while no estimated sale price has been made public, it is likely CSX 2000 could become one of the most expensive cars sold at auction.
The car’s un-restored state, which imparts a sense of authenticity, is one of the factors that could send its value skyward. A layer of paint can be seen peeling from under the front bumper, and the upholstery and well-worn driver’s seat show signs of spirited driving.
The peeling paint also beckons memories of Shelby’s early days as a shrewd entrepreneur. Before lending his original CSX 2000 Cobra out to the automotive press, Shelby repeatedly painted it a different colour—to fool the press and potential customers into thinking multiple cars existed, and that he was well on his way to series production.
The world thought Shelby had six Cobras in circulation – yellow, red, white and blue examples among them – when only one was in existence–the very Cobra up for auction this August.
Other factors influencing CSX 2000’s final sale price will be its iconic status—the Cobra is one of the most oft-copied classic cars in the hobby, with dozens of kit car companies offering replicas.
That popularity has been spurred in part by the car’s well-known performance reputation and impeccable racing pedigree.
Carroll Shelby’s original recipe for making Cobras was fairly simple, yet included the addition of many advanced technologies that let his creation take multiple race wins.
Starting with a lightweight, British-built AC Ace two-seat sports car, Shelby performed a ‘heart transplant,’ shoehorning a 4.2-litre Ford V8 into the diminutive roadster.
Further modifications to the AC chassis gave Shelby’s ‘Frankenstein’ a four-wheel independent suspension system; lightweight (for the time) wire wheels; a slick-shifting four-speed manual; and disc brakes all around.
In the words of Carroll Shelby himself, the Cobra was designed to “put the Corvettes in the weeds”–and that it did with a great measure of racing success.
As pointed out by RM Sotheby’s, a 1962 road test by Road & Track revealed that Shelby’s original Cobra could run from zero-to–100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, complete a standing quarter-mile run in 13.8 seconds, and go on to reach a top speed of 246 km/h (153 mph).
But what really sets CSX 2000 apart is the fact it is the original Shelby Cobra, a car owned by Shelby since its creation, that never left his care, until his passing in 2012. It’s why Jim King, company historian for Shelby American, refers to CSX 2000 as “the real McCoy of a Cobra.”
(All photos by Darin Schnabel for RM Sotheby’s)