- Listed in the SAAC’s Cobra World Registry
- One of two “R”-specification CSX4000-series cars
- Carbon-fiber bodywork; professionally built
- by HRE Motorcars
- Aluminum-head 427 built by NASCAR legend Ernie Elliott
- Documented with MSO copy signed
- by Carroll Shelby
- 427-ci V8 engine
- 4-barrel Holley carburetor
- Estimated 700 hp
- 5-speed manual transmission
|Vehicle:||1965 Shelby Cobra 427 R|
|Years Produced:||1997–2009 (all of which sold as 1965s)|
|Original List Price:||$38,900 base (in kit form with fiberglass body)|
|Tune Up Cost:||Varies, depending on engine option|
|Chassis Number Location:||Stamped in top of X-brace behind the radiator on passenger’s side|
|Engine Number Location:||Cast in the bottom of the block by the oil filter and stamped on the Shelby VIN tag underneath the VIN number (427)|
|Alternatives:||Factory Five Mk 4, Superformance Mk III, Kirkham 427|
This car, Lot 70, sold for $212,800, including buyer’s premium, at the Gooding & Company sale at Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Amelia Island, FL, on March 8, 2019.
I’m about to stick my finger into the proverbial continuation Cobra hornets’ nest.
The age-old debate among Cobra enthusiasts is simply this: Is a continuation car a “real” Shelby Cobra? Guys who don’t own one say no. Guys who do own one say yes.
What is “real”?
The short answer is that, yes, the continuation Cobras are indeed “real” Shelbys in the sense that they do have Shelby Automobiles CSX VIN numbers. They are also memorialized in the official Shelby Registry. They are all authenticated by Shelby and only sold new by authorized Shelby dealers. So from that standpoint, they are indeed “real” Cobras — but with an asterisk.
Where the hornets get stirred up is in the debate over how real they are. While they are born from the same engineering plans as the original cars, and in many regards are actually better than the original cars, they are all built, more or less, to the original owners’ specifications by a third-party shop that’s authorized to build them. Most of them are fiberglass, which just stirs the pot even more, but buyers could opt for carbon fiber or original and quite authentic aluminum bodies.
By the CSX VIN number, our subject car is part of the 4000-series continuation Cobras built starting in the 1990s. These are specified as 427 S/C Cobras. By their own language, these are described as “component vehicles” from Shelby Automobiles, which by the very definition starts to muddy up the waters. Is it a kit car or isn’t it?
From a historical sense, no, these aren’t real Cobras. However, they do try to replicate the aura and spirit of the original cars — and they are certainly very authentic copies.
Think of it this way: When an original piece of art is created, there is only one original piece. When the artist authorizes and produces prints of the original, even if he signs them and limits the quantity, they are still copies of the original — no matter how authentic they try to make them. They will always get that all-too-familiar sigh of disappointment: “Oh, it’s just a print.”
Now that I’ve stuck a pretty big stick in the hornets’ nest and stirred it around for a while, let’s move on.
Pay to play
Continuation cars are usually very well built, refined, and can provide owners with the same driving experience as one of the original cars for a fraction of the cost.
You can still have one built today to your specifications as a CSX6000 427 series (the CSX4000 Series cars ran out of VIN numbers) or CSX7000/8000 series in the 289 FIA or street configuration. You simply need to place an order for a car at one of the many authorized dealers, have the car built (or you can finalize the assembly yourself) and take delivery. Generally speaking, you’ll need to cut a check for well north of $150,000 to get it done.
As I write this, there are a few rolling-chassis continuation cars ready for the owner’s personal touches available for sale. Most of them have a list price in the low $100k range, with the clear understanding that that price does not include a drivetrain. For the less-than-patient buyer, though, an auction sale is a fast-track option to get your hands on a car sooner.
A continuation Shelby on steroids
Our subject car is one of only two built to the terrorizing R specifications. To further its creed, it was assembled by HRE Motorcars of Freeport, NY, in 2004. HRE is very well known as one of the premier builders of the continuation Cobras.
By the build specifications, this is one wicked Cobra. It’s loaded with a 700-hp engine and was hand-assembled in the ultra-flyweight, hand-laid Kevlar, carbon-fiber body — which is incredibly rare due to the hefty price tag that accompanies it.
Bottom line, CSX4007R has simply got to fly. It’ll certainly be scary, especially in the hands of a novice driver, let alone someone who knows what to do with it on a track.
Third time’s a charm
This is the third time that CSX4007R has turned up for public sale. The last two records were both at Mecum sales in 2016. Appearing first at the Mecum Kissimmee sale in 2016, it no-saled with a high parting bid of $325,000. Next up was another swing and a miss at their Monterey sale in 2016, where if failed to change hands at $285,000 (ACC# 6808861).
At this sale, chassis 4007R found a new home, selling for $212,800 against a pre-sale estimate of $200,000–$300,000.
Just as there’s confusion over the legitimacy of a continuation Cobra, there also confusion with how to value them. Every continuation Cobra sold is simply an educated guess with regards to the market value. While it’s safe to assume that you’ll need to cut a check north of $100,000, how much farther north is where the gray area begins.
Obviously, by the failed Mecum sales, trying to fetch a number north of $300,000 was a stretch. Here, a few years later at the Gooding sale, we see a more realistic estimate, which resulted in the car being sold. The bottom line truly comes down to the build, who built it, the value of the components, and the condition.
Similar used continuation examples (not R-spec cars) can be found starting around $130,000 to $150,000. So in this case, I’d say the R specification carried a $75,000 bump in value.
Well bought or well sold?
By the estimate provided by Gooding & Company, we could quickly call the car well bought, as it sold at the lower end of the estimate. However, looking at other like-kind examples for sale in the open market (not R-spec examples), we could easily suggest that CSX4007R was well sold. Clear as mud, right?
As such, the debate continues — and not just the “is it real or is it Memorex” conversation. By my books, I’ll call this a market-correct result for a killer R-spec Shelby continuation build — but given the one-of-two provenance and a few recent auction sales, perhaps even well bought.
(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)