1967 Shelby Cobra
1967 SHELBY 427 COBRA ROADSTER.
From day one, racing played a vital role in the Shelby Cobra’s development. The small-block Shelby Cobra (AC Cobra in the UK) was an instant sensation on the street and the race track, with the agile little roadsters handily showing the new Corvette Stingray a clean pair of heels in SCCA competition. By the mid-1960s, Shelby was racing the Cobra roadster and special-bodied Daytona Coupe on the world stage, taking on the might of Ferrari in the GT class and coming out on top for the 1965 season. All along, however, the quest for more power weighed heavily on the minds of Carroll Shelby and his right-hand man, Ken Miles. By 1963/1964, the 289 was at the peak of its development, maxing out at 385 reliable horsepower and stay at the sharp end of the field, they knew the Cobra needed a lot more grunt.
Following an uncharacteristic embarrassment at the hands of the Grand Sport Corvettes during the 1963 Nassau Speed Week, Ken Miles retreated to the drawing board. A past drive in a 427-powered NASCAR Galaxie left a deep impression on Miles, and he felt the big-block would be the perfect fit for the lightweight Cobra. A hastily built prototype using 289 suspension was tested at Sebring, and despite woeful handling, it proved to be blisteringly fast in a straight line. Its performance was enough to convince Shelby, Miles, and Ford that the 427 would power the next generation Cobra. A great deal of development followed as the Cobra chassis was wholly reworked to handle the additional weight and power of the big Ford V8. Ford offered the services of its chassis engineers to assist Miles, with the only restriction being the 90-inch wheelbase which formed the basis for all of AC’s body jigs. Chassis tube diameter increased to 4-inches, and the antiquated leaf-spring arrangement tossed out in favor of an all-new fully adjustable coil-spring setup at all four corners. The body was heavily reworked with dramatic flared wheel arches to accommodate the fat rubber required to put the power to the ground. With the new chassis, the 427 Cobra delivered handling that rivaled the small block 289, coupled with astonishing straight-line performance. For decades to come, few cars could touch the 427 Cobra for its near-mythical performance. Even today, the 427 Cobra counts among the greatest sports cars ever built, and they enjoy permanent standing as true automotive icons.
Our featured Cobra is CSX 3341, one of only 343 genuine coil-spring, big-block Cobras produced. A very late production example, this car is among the last 20 cars built by Shelby, and it presents in stunning condition, with a recently-completed restoration by noted Cobra expert Mike McCluskey. The history of this particular chassis is well-documented by the Shelby American Automobile Club. It was sold new to Richard Darnell of South Bend, Indiana by Romy Hammes Ford (also of South Bend) in July of 1967. SAAC registry information lists the original color as Rangoon Red over a black interior, and equipped with a 427 engine with dual-quad intake. After just one year and 1900 miles, Darnell listed the car for sale. A series of owners followed, with documents noting its appearance at the 2nd annual SAAC convention held in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1977. There, it was recorded to show 30,000 miles, fitted with sunburst wheels, under-car exhaust exiting ahead of the rear wheels, and dark jade green paintwork. By the mid-1980s, it reappeared finished in Rangoon Red and with a correct-type replacement 427 engine built by noted Ford guru Jack Roush. In the early 1990s, it had passed through the hands of Mike McCluskey for the first time, where it received several updates including side exhaust, S/C wheel arch lips, and a hood scoop. Eric Bernhard of Entropy Racing installed a factory style 3-point roll bar and updated the suspension and brakes for vintage racing. At that point, the car was repainted in Viking Blue with white stripes. In this configuration, the car raced extensively on the West Coast, appearing multiple times at the Monterey Historics and the Wine Country Classic at Sonoma Raceway throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
The current owner acquired the car from Gary Hunter in approximately 2011. In 2016 he commissioned Mike McCluskey to perform a complete, concours quality restoration and return the car to street specification. Still appearing very fresh, CSX 3341 is an absolutely exquisite example. Mr. McCluskey noted that while some minor chassis tubes were replaced over time, neither body nor chassis showed evidence of crash damage or severe corrosion. His team took great care to preserve the originality while returning the car to its factory street spec. It now presents in absolutely gorgeous condition, with correct under-car exhaust, proper street-spec wide-hip wheel arches, and no roll bar. The dark midnight blue paintwork and unadorned street trim accentuate the beautiful lines, and the quality of the finish is outstanding, with impeccable panel fit and detailing. Like the exterior bodywork, the inner panels are restored to exacting standards, with new foot boxes, inner trunk panels, and fender wells all appearing correct and beautifully finished. The process of the restoration is well-documented in a series of photographs.
Purposeful and straightforward, the two-seat cockpit is all about the business of handling the mighty 427 with no distractions. Once aboard, the seats are quite comfortable, and the controls fall easily to hand. The soft trim consists of period-correct leather, vinyl, and carpet, all in black as original. Smiths instruments are fully restored, and the wheel and shift lever are proper 427 items. Like the body, the interior restoration is impeccably detailed and executed to a very high standard.
Under the bonnet sits the heart and soul of the Cobra legend – Ford’s mighty 427 cubic inch V8. Like the rest of the car, the engine is highly detailed, with an authentic presentation. As part of the restoration, the engine was stripped down, sonic checked, and completely rebuilt with a balanced rotating assembly. Fed by a single 4-bbl carburetor, it runs strong and delivers the kind of breathtaking performance one expects from a big-block Cobra. Information from both the restorer and The Cobra Registry points to CSX 3341 being a cherished car for its entire life. Evidence shows it was never wrecked, neglected or cut up, and the few modifications it did receive to go racing were done so without sacrificing the car’s highly original character. Now fresh from a world-class restoration and equally suited to concours and road events, CSX 3341 will surely impress the most discerning enthusiast.
STOCK NUMBER 6423
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