Carroll Shelby’s lifelong personal 427 Cobra for auction

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Shelbys Cobra front side Shelbys Cobra front side
Shelbys Cobra Shelby and Dan Gurney Shelbys Cobra Shelby and Dan Gurney
Shelbys Cobra rear side Shelbys Cobra rear side
Shelbys Cobra front side2 Shelbys Cobra front side2
Shelbys Cobra engine Shelbys Cobra engine
Shelbys Cobra interior Shelbys Cobra interior

Owned since 1966 by Shelby, until his death in 2012; this Cobra represents one of the crown jewels of Shelby American collecting

Mecum Auctions are looking set to start off 2021 with a bang, offering the rare opportunity to purchase Carroll Shelby’s personal lifelong 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 at their Kissimmee auction commencing January 7.


Coded CSX3178, Shelby owned the Cobra ever since it was first assembled in March 1966, until his death in 2012, and represents one of just five 427 Cobras ever produced in Charcoal Grey.


The car was shipped from AC Cars in Surrey on November 16, 1965, coated in primer with a black interior and without driveline, to Shelby American’s LAX facility. The Shelby American build order, titled "Build 427 Street Cobra CSX3178", was opened on January 7 after the New Year.


The build order was closed on March 3, after which the car was delivered to Shelby’s personal residence in Dallas sporting a dual-quad 427 with a four-speed toploader transmission.

Carroll Shelby (right), pictured with American racing driver Dan Gurney (left) and CSX3178.

Over the life of both the vehicle and of Shelby, the car underwent a number of significant revisions.  First in 1972, when Carroll’s good friend and Cobra Specialist Mike McCluskey restored the Cobra in Guardsman Blue with a gold nose.

Later, at some point, Shelby decided the Cobra needed more grunt and fitted an aluminium-head 427 side-oiler and a Ford C6 automatic transmission.


In 2002, the Las Vegas Shelby American outfit repainted Shelby’s Cobra in red.

After Shelby’s passing in 2012, RM Sotheby’s auctioned CSX3178 as part of the Shelby Estate sale in 2016, after which it was purchased by just its second custodian.

The Cobra’s only secondary owner commissioned a concours-grade restoration by leading Cobra specialists Legendary Motor Cars. Shelby’s Cobra was returned to his original vision: Charcoal Grey and its original 427 and four-speed combo, exactly as delivered.


CSX3178 is regarded as the big brother to CSX2000, the very first ever small-block Cobra that Shelby built in a garage over beers with legendary hot rodder Dean Moon. CSX2000 sold for AU$18.9 million at that same 2016 Shelby Estate Sale.

At the time, CSX3178, wearing its then-red paint and non-original engine was sold for a comparatively meagre AU$1.9 million.


While that sounds surprisingly low especially for just a few years ago, collector interest in the Shelby name was actually waning until very recently when 2019's Hollywood blockbuster Ford v Ferrari thrust Shelby - and the previously unsung heroics of Ken Miles - into the spotlight.

With collector interest in all things Shelby enjoying a tremendous resurgence over the past year, and with no published pre-auction estimate, Shelby’s Cobra will be a cornerstone sale of the New Year and will surely be one to watch!

View Shelby’s Cobra in full at


Classic Australian Family Car Value Guide home page

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

Japanese Classic Car Value Guide home page

Recent auction results

Sell your car for free right here


Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here


Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.