Presiding over the union, Carroll Shelby; the Texan for whom speed mattered perhaps above all else. By 1959 Shelby had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in an Aston Martin factory car, reputedly driving with a nitroglycerine capsule under his tongue in case his famously leaky heart valve played up - but his racing career was already over. Four months later, at 36, he retired.
Ford thought so too, and started writing Shelby some cheques to help with the car's development. Less than two years later, the redesigned MkII Cobra appeared with rack and pinion steering - although it was the '65 MkIII, with a stronger chassis, coil springs all-round and the 7.0-litre '427' V8 that provided Shelby American with a bonafide classic.
Factor in the model's low volume production run - just 260 road cars were produced, with fewer than one hundred more intended for competition - not to mention the attrition rate of a car with over 425hp and only four fat radials to keep it on the road, and it's no surprise that original examples are among the most cherished (and expensive) classic purchases that it's possible to make in the States. Second only to their values are the 'continuation' cars, built with official Shelby serial numbers that continue on from where the firm left off in 1967.
"Genuine Shelby Cobras are very rare and desirable," said a spokesman at the time. "We wanted to honour Cobra's unique heritage, while incorporating a few upgrades that Carroll personally approved before his death in 2012. These 50 limited edition cars keep the flame sparked by the race-winning Cobras burning bright. There just isn't anything like a real Shelby Cobra." Of course he was proven immediately correct by the near vertical appreciation the model experienced once clear of the production line. It is on that trajectory that SuperVettura Sunningdale has valued this example, which can be had for £500,000 if you wish to export it or £600,000 if you're paying the VAT.
"The big block Shelby Cobra changed the way the world viewed American manufacturers when Carroll Shelby introduced it in January 1965," said Joe Conway, CEO. "Shelby American's goal was to create the world's first hyper car and the Cobra lived up to its potential."
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