The Iconic 1965 Shelby Cobra

The 1965 Cobra could be categorized as a very unique American import. This was the high performance sports car assembled by Carroll Shelby automobile innovator and race car driver. The Shelby Cobra is truly an historic high performance sports car designed for maximum speed. by an internationally famous racer.

1965 Cobra
1965 Cobra

The Cobra chassis was a product from AC, a British special automaker also known as AC Cars Ltd and Auto Carriers Ltd. The Cobra chassis was from the company’s AC Ace model. That’s about the only similarity between the Cobra and the Ace.

Carroll Shelby had a strong working relationship with the Ford Motor Company. This relationship had Shelby installing a Ford V-8 in the Cobra. The first Cobra in 1962 had a Ford 260 horsepower engine inside a 2,100 pound sports car. This combination made for a powerful little car. While the car was a combination AC chassis and Ford engine, the Cobra’s were built under the Shelby name. While the car itself was not a Ford product it did have a Ford V-8 engine and an insignia saying “Powered by Ford”. Good promotion for Ford Motor in the high performance market.

The 1965 Shelby Cobra

The 1965 Shelby Cobra had tremendous power with a Ford big block 427 cubic inch V-8 engine delivering 510 horsepower. This is 510 horsepower in a 2,100 pound car.

Cobra Race Car
Cobra Race Car

To accommodate the big block V-8 several alterations had to be made to the Cobra’s frame. This included a larger tube frame and five inches added to the width. Flared fenders were also added to accommodate the larger wheels.

Three hundred and fifty eight Cobra 427’s were built from 1965 to 1967. About 100 of these had a 355 horsepower engine. The Cobra 427 was a true sports car racer. Some of the original Cobra models produced could get to 100 MPH and then back to zero in about 14 seconds. Truly incredible performance.

The $400,000 Challenge

The 1965 Shelby Cobra competed directly against the high performance Ferrari. One of the most interesting events between these to sports cars occurred in 2011 in a $400,000 Challenge. This was a winner take all and pitted the 1965 Cobra against a 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia.

The challenge between these two legendary high performance cars, one American and the other European, was which would be the fastest on a quarter mile run. This was basically a drag race between the two famous cars and also two friends at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In this particular challenge the 1965 427 Shelby Cobra was about eight tenths of a second faster than the Gerrari 458 Italia.

2012 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Another significant racing event featuring the Shelby Cobra was held in 2012 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in Salinas California. One hundred and sixty nine Cobras were on display at this event which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra. The winner of this featured race was a 1964 Cobra 289. A special exhibit at the California event was the very first Shelby Cobra production model built.

1965 Shelby Cobra cockpit
1965 Shelby Cobra cockpit

Cobra Replicas

The Shelby Cobra was a car in demand. Any sports car enthusiast who wanted the power and performance the Cobra offered wanted to obtain one. As a result there was great demand for Cobra replicas starting in the 1970’s.

Today you’ll find Cobra replica kit cars priced in a range from the high $20,000’s to the low $40,000’s. depending on the exact model and condition. We’ve also seen asking prices for 1965 Cobra 427 replicas in the high $40,000 area. Most Cobras offered today are totally completed but you’ll also likely find a few that need more work. Cobra replica kits were all over the market during the 1970’s meaning there’s enough to choose from.

You may enjoy the two additional AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

The 1955 AC Ace

The 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo

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Shelby Cobra classic racing stripes
Shelby Cobra classic racing stripes

1965 Cobra Factory Five

The 1965 Shelby Cobra featured in this article is a Factory Five replica car. factory Five is a well known manufacturer of quality roadsters and coupes. The company is known for it’s cutting edge technology which produces excellent recreations.

The 1965 Cobra Collector Car

The Shelby Cobra is an iconic American high performance sports car. The originals are some of the most expensive high performance cars of the 1960’s. The highest priced original Shelby Cobras have had auction prices above $1 million.

Shelby Cobra rear
Shelby Cobra rear

The highest priced Cobra’s would be the 427 Competition models. These would typically see prices above the $1 million mark. Lower on the price scale for original Shelby Cobras would be the CSX 4000 and the 289 Cobra. These two models would still be the several hundred thousand dollar range.

The Shelby Cobra’s are iconic American high performance sports cars that have not lost their popularity over the decades. They remain one of most popular collector cars to this day.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)