RM Amelia 2015 Preview – 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra May Top $1-Million In Return to Early-Series Buyer Preference

RM Amelia 2015 Preview 1963 Shelby 289 CobraThe million-dollar pre-sale estimate on this 1963 Shelby Cobra is a testament to three things:

— the essential ‘rightness’ of the original concept, design and execution of this Anglo-American mashup

— the value of Shelby Cobra’s continuing to rise, with originals like this sure to be among the highest-value models of all

— and the fact that all those replicas and rip-offs actually reinforce and strengthen the legacy of the Shelby Cobra, but will never touch its overall collector value

1963 Shelby 289 Cobra

RM Auctions

Amelia Island

14 March 2015

Lot 178

1963 Shelby 289 Cobra

$950,000 – $1,150,000

  • Chassis no. CSX 2147

306 bhp, 289 cu. in. Ford OHV V-8 engine with an aluminum intake and Holley carburetor, aluminum Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission, independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs, and tube shock absorbers, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.

  • Formerly owned by Ford Special Projects Director Jacques Passino

  • Original matching-numbers engine; finished in its original colors

The Shelby Cobra combined British handling and finesse with American muscle, and it was the car to have when it was unveiled in 1963. Using the AC Ace as a starting point, Carroll Shelby shoehorned a powerful Ford V-8 engine to replace the Ace’s aging and anemic inline-six. The result was nothing short of spectacular, and it proved to be not just a thrilling street car but also a very competitive racer. At the Cobra’s first outing in Riverside, California, in February 1963, Dave MacDonald handedly put everything on the track in his rearview mirror. Those who saw it in action were immediately smitten.

While the first 75 Cobras to leave Shelby’s California facility were fitted with 260-cubic inch V-8 engines, the cars that would follow received a slightly larger 289-cubic inch engine. The Cobra was quoted at 271 brake horsepower and weighed in at only 2,000 pounds, which was nearly 500 pounds lighter than the Corvette. As a result of the Cobra’s seemingly instant success, Carroll Shelby went from being a well-known racing driver to a household name, paving the way for his Shelby-branded vehicles for years to come.

Photo Credit: Ryan Merrill

©2015 Courtesy of RM Auctions