In the late ’60s there just wasn’t anything badder than a 427 Cobra, and the fact that they were rumored to kill an abnormally high percentage of people who dared to drive them only increased the reputation
Although the 289 Cobra was well proven in competition by the mid-1960s, it was becoming clear that something more was needed to stay competitive. Ford’s 289-ci V8 reached its reliability threshold at about 380 or 390 hp, which wasn’t going to be enough power for long.
Although Shelby had been promised a new aluminum-block version of Ford’s 390-ci V8, internal resistance from the NASCAR faction inside Ford forced Shelby to make do with the cast iron 427. Although reliable at 500 hp, the engine was so much heavier that a complete redesign of the Cobra chassis was required to ensure proper handling. Engineered with Ford’s help, the new chassis was five inches wider, with coil springs all around.
One of the most memorable stories about the 427 Cobra surrounds a test that was arranged by Ken Miles for Sports Car Graphic magazine. A few years earlier, Aston Martin had bragged that its racing cars were capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 in less than 30 seconds. Miles had the idea to re-stage the test using the new 427 Cobra. The result, according to SCG editor Jerry Titus, was an astounding 13.2 seconds.
As with all his cars, Carroll Shelby intended to see that the 427 Cobra was a winner on the track, so a competition-spec version was developed. Features included a wider body to accommodate wider wheels and tires, an oil cooler, side exhaust, external fuel filler, front jacking points, roll bar, and a special 42-gallon fuel tank.
The 1966 Shelby 427 on offer here was restored for street use in the late 1980s. The vendor has since conducted a thorough mechanical restoration in order to prepare the car for track use. Work included a rebuilt suspension, engine and drivetrain, braking system, exhaust, and safety equipment. Since completion, the Cobra has been driven at the 2003 Monterey Historics and the 2003 Coronado Festival of Speed.
These cars are brutally fast, and driving one is an exhilarating experience. Very few cars like this remain today, and the best ones-like CSX3014-seldom change hands.