History Of The 1st Shelby Cobra Legendary Car

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carroll-shelby with 2 cobras

This is the story of the man Carroll Shelby who managed to create a car Shelby Cobra that won the minds and hearts of sports car fans all around the world.


Before he starting to race professionally and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Carroll Shelby had a dream to create his own sports cars under his personal name.


But in the early sixties, that dream seemed unattainable. His worsened health condition forced him to stop racing.


In 1961, he received the news that AC Cars from England will stop production of their AC Ace model for the reason the Bristol six-cylinder engines weren’t available anymore.




carroll-shelby with 2 cobras



Аs a true entrepreneur, Shelby realized that a British roadster could be the right choice for a powerful American V8 engine. This was a great opportunity for him to become a constructor, and not just a retired racing car driver.


Extremely soon, he contacted AC Cars and they sent him an engine-less body to his workshop in California.


With help from Ford Motor Company and with a small team of mechanics, the first Shelby Cobra is represented in 1962.

It was powered by Ford’s 260 engine and later with a venerable 289 V8, and in a very short time, it takes its place in the sports car world.


But Shelby had a higher target because he knew that Cobra had more potential.





So, in 1964, Shelby begins working on the Shelby Cobra 427 very extreme version powered by a beastly Ford big-block 7-litre engine with around 450 bhp and over 600 Nm of torque.


To put this kind of power in such an easy car really looked insane. But Shelby was a guy who did not care much about the sanity of his vehicles.


He thought there was no such car with such power and was determined to build a top classical muscle car.


Installing the 427 V8 proved to be harder because it was needed improvements to the chassis and suspension.




shelby cobra kit car



The overall style and design remained identical, but although 289 and 427 Cobras appeared extremely identical, none of the body panels, except for the hood, trunk, and windshield are interchangeable.


Equipped with the monster of an engine and four-speed manual transmission, Shelby Cobra 427 was incredibly fast even by today’s standards.


The 0 to 60 mph time was just over 4 seconds and 0 to 100 mph for incredible 10.3 seconds.
For many years, Cobra 427 was the fastest American car in every way.







These fantastic performances have proved too much for some owners and many Shelby Cobras were crushed because the drivers weren’t used to that level of power and speed.


Because Cobra 427 was a sports car there is not much equipment was installed. The driver has all the necessary instruments that he needs, rather than luxury, and nothing more.


All Cobra 427s were roadsters and there was not the convertible roof, only a bit of canvas with Plexiglas side windows in case of rain.



shelby cobra interior



Lack of protection against weather conditions was a serious security weakness because driving a 427 Cobra on a wet surface at any speed could be fatal.


Cobra 427 had very stiff suspension, and passengers sat very low, with almost no protection from the wind, accompanied by powerful sounds of the mighty V8 engine.


And it’s all part of the magic and beauty of the 427’s.


The original Cobra 427s is one of the most wanted but also the most expensive classic cars. The prices are well over 1 million dollars for a perfect example, but original Cobras can be very difficult to find for sale.







Maintenance costs are not very high because Cobra 427 uses a drivetrain from Ford and spare parts are common and cheap.

Some of the bodywork parts and suspension parts can be very expensive because are very rare and it’s hard to find them for sale.


In the early ’70s, a lot of small companies produced Cobra 427 replicas which have contributed to the increased popularity of the car.


Because the original car was rare and expensive, many fans started making replicas that give the same enjoyment and pleasure for much fewer costs.



shelby cobra



A lot of the replicas have been built from Plexiglas and from many other parts of different cars.


But over the years just a few companies started producing exact clones of Shelby Cobra 427 which are identical in every way.


The original AC is the best known, and there is Shelby American in Las Vegas which still maintains the continuation of the Cobras series.


You can find and buy a cheap Cobra 427 car and personalize it with different engines, transmissions, brakes, and suspensions.






Many replica owners have been installing small block, Chevrolet engines in their Cobras because their engines are cheap and common.


It is estimated that over 60,000 copies of Shelby Cobra have been made over the years.


From 1965 to 1967, the original Shelby Cobra 427 was made in only 348 copies.


260 examples have been produced as streetcars, but Shelby offered a package for owners with racing aspirations with which they could race from time to time.







It is not known how many were destroyed, but the most surviving examples have been accounted for by Shelby historians and clubs.

Shelby Cobra is one of the most famous and most legendary American cars which helped Shelby become more popular as a constructor than a racer.


We love this legendary car Shelby Cobra.

Categories: History


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