Very first Shelby Cobra sets auction record for American cars


Carroll Shelby's first-ever Cobra, CSX 2000, set a new record high for an American car when it sold at the RM Sotheby's auction during Monterey Car Week for $13.75 million. The previous record was $11 million for the 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage race car that sold in 2012.

Shelby created what would become a racing and sports car icon in 1962, when he shoehorned a 260-cubic-inch Ford V-8 engine into the sprightly AC Ace. To be fair, calling the CSX 2000 a strictly American car isn't quite true, as the AC Ace was a British car. Then again, the Ford GT40s were built in England as well, so we're really splitting hairs here.

That 260 V-8 was big for its day but subsequent Cobras would get Ford 289s and 427s. Still, the foundation was laid, and the idea of a high-performance roadster was born.

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CSX 2000 quickly established Shelby as a sports car builder, even though the old chicken farmer employed some slight of hand to gain publicity. He sent the car to various magazines for testing, each time painting it a different color to make it look like he had several cars. It worked, and Shelby made a lifelong business of building and modifying cars, always making them hotter. While Shelby passed away in 2012, his company Shelby American is still building "continuation" Cobras today.

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The car is very original. In fact, the driver's seat shows the affect of decades of wear. There's a reason for that. Shelby had an edict: anyone who upgraded the upholstery would be fired.  

How did RM Sotheby's get the commission to sell CSX 2000? Company founder Rob Myers and Shelby were close friends and the pair made an agreement that, eventually, the car would be sold via Myers' auction house.

For more on the Monterey Car Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, head to our dedicated hub.

 
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