• With a Holman Moody 427-cubic-inch V-8 and a four-speed manual transmission, this Cobra is the pinnacle of American 1960s performance machinery.
• Cobra production ceased in December 1966, so it is one of the last of a breed.
• The 427s were better sorted than the narrow body cars, although both are highly desirable. This auction on Bring a Trailer will be one to watch for any Cobra fan. It ends on November 14.
There’s an old joke that goes, Q: How do you know if a Cobra is real or a replica? A: It is a replica. One of the most beloved 1960s racing machines is also one of the most copied, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A well-tuned Cobra replica is just the thing to blow out the autumn cobwebs with some V-8 thunder. But here comes the real deal.
Up for auction this week at Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos—is a genuine 1966 Cobra 427 Mk III. Yep, that’s 427, as in cubic inches of displacement, about seven liters of Ford canto muscle in a chassis that weighs just over 2500 pounds. As a friend of mine likes to say, it’s the Big Stove option.
With 10 days to go, bidding is at a very satisfying $950,000. But grab your popcorn, folks, because this is one of those auctions where the dollar value quickly transcends “I can buy a house for that kind of money” and heaven into “This, or a P-51 Mustang.” and a hangar to put it in?”
When Car and Driver road tested the Cobra 427 in 1965. Early Cobras were a handful and a half. “Everyone at Shelby is more than candid in admitting that the handling of the original Cobra was significantly less than optimal.” With a fully independent suspension, the Cobra 427 got that power on the road.
And what a force it was. Clocked through the quarter mile in just 12.2 seconds, this broad-shouldered machine was unmatched by anything other than the big-block Corvettes, and maybe not even them. The Cobra may have been a more resolved product, but it was still snappy and noisy. There’s a reason so many companies will sell you a photocopy of this icon of 1960s performance.
The example for the auction at Bring a Trailer is particularly tasty. Chassis number 3283, it left Shelby American with a tamer 428-cubic-inch V-8, but was treated to performance upgrades almost immediately. Ford’s official racing car contractor, Holman Moody, was called upon for an inline 427 cubic inch engine, equipped with twin four-barrel carburetors. With the exhaust pulled to the rear, rather than side exit, the driver can better hear the induction roar of fuel and air sacrificed on the altar of speed.
It was returned to its original factory shade of dark green in 2013, and there is a brutal elegance to this Cobra. Of course, the subtlety evaporates the moment you start that big V-8, but the green-on-black color treatment pays homage to the original British ACs from which Cobras were born.
For the lucky auction winner with the deepest pockets, this car will provide an unparalleled driving experience. And should you be out and about on a sunny morning, and this Cobra rumbles past you, you might recognize it for what it is. Because statistics say that any Cobra you spot is a replica. But the rights are out there too.
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