My Car Quest

January 31, 2023

This AC Shelby Cobra 427 Has a History

A Comp 427 AC Shelby Cobra sells at Mecum Kissimmee rescued from the dreaded Eye-talians…

by Wallace Wyss –

There is many a twist and turn in the road for some cars. This big block Cobra, CSX3063, has more turns than many. It was auctioned by Mecum in Florida in January 2023 as a “1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster”.

The ad states that a restorer Chuck Gutke, now deceased, said that the car’s original role was as a Ghia show car for someone (though Ford did not yet own Ghia, which built their show cars). It’s even possible AC themselves ordered it, though they ultimately chose a design by Frua, a rival coachbuilder. The Mecum auction ad goes on to say that the Italian body was later removed and the car built out as a Cobra 427 Roadster.

Ghia Cobra

Ford was no doubt impressed with the car but waltzed round trying to buy the more technologically advanced De Tomaso Mangusta, also designed by Ghia, but then rejected it and bought the Pantera (based on seeing a scale model) to import, and then went back later and bought Ghia coachworks and the Ghia name.

The car is particularly valuable because not that many 427 Cobras were Comp cars. And most of them were built right at the beginning of the big block era. The goal of making 100 to get it homologated as a production car was never to be reached after the FIA inspector popped in and counted only 51 cars. That sapped demand because up against prototypes the 427 Cobra was too heavy.

AC Shelby Cobra CSX3063

Many Cobra archaeologists say after its adventure in Italy, AC put its first Cobra body on the car. But Ned Scudder, Cobra registrar for the SAAC club says AC Cars was not making Cobra bodywork anymore when Shelby stopped ordering because at that point in time AC was making the AC 428 with coachwork by Frua. Since the Frua version had a longer wheelbase chassis he expressed doubt that AC would have cut down the long wheelbase to Cobra length.

But it got done, maybe in the states. There’s a picture of the longer-than-Cobra chassis with a Cobra body poised above it. But is it still a real 427 Cobra built by Shelby? I love any excuse to use this line again “Marilyn Monroe in a red dress is the same as Marilyn Monroe in a blue dress is the same as Marilyn Monroe in no dress” meaning it’s still a 427 Cobra regardless of what body (dress) it’s wearing at the time. We like all three Marilyns…

AC Shelby Cobra CSX3063

I think it’s a crying shame that the Italian alternate body was not saved as it showed where the Cobra could have gone. Ironically I think the tail was wretched excess with pizza-pie sized taillights and the nose boring but at least it was the Italians adding their two cents worth. What happened to the Ghia roadster (with lift off hardtop) body? Well, it probably went into the dumpster in the UK and it would cost maybe $200,000 today to make a duplicate in aluminum from scratch. Who would pay for that? And who saved the blueprints? Probably nobody.

I think if Giugiaro had only listed it on his resume (like he did the Mangusta he did for Ghia) it would have been worth more in Ghia clothing than it is now with an AC Cobra body. I can see his design input, particularly in the side vent, lifted off his Maserati Ghibli design, done at Ghia. (He also did the De Tomaso Mangusta coupe and the one off Mangusta spyder while at Ghia) Giugiaro one-offs are prized at auctions (there have been several including his own Ferrari).

The Mecum history includes several time gaps–but referenced paperwork included in the sale documents AC Cars invoiced Ford Motor Credit for this order on June 1, 1965 with invoice no. A7948 and that Ghia removed unneeded substructure, installed a body on the car as a styling exercise and displayed it at the Turin Auto Salon.

When Gutke got it it was later crashed and the car was cut in half following the crash and that’s when Mike McCluskey, a famed Cobra restorer in Los Angeles, bought it in the late 1970s. He sold it to Larry Dubas for Scott Grissom in 1984 and then later it sold to Steve Forristall in 1986. Forristall sold the car in 1989 to Ted Thomas who rebuilt the chassis, including replacement of the damaged rail.

The car then went to Cobra Restorers in Kennesaw, Georgia to begin the rebuild. They sent it to Bruce Kimmons of Kimmons Coachworks in Lake Havasu City, Arizona for completion and installation of a full aluminum body. It finally rolled out into the sunlight in 1993 at SAAC 20 with the words “last comp chassis” written on the nose. It then went to sleep in storage for 14 years, until September 2011 before returning to Cobra Restorers to complete the restoration and a new owner.

At Mecum Kissimmee it sold for $660,000.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, is offering oil portraits of significant Cobras. For a list write malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 

The Other Ghia Cobra

The other Italian-bodied Cobra, a coupe, on chassis CSX3055, is clad with the Giovanni-Savonuzzi designed, Ghia built body originally fitted to a Fiat 8V chassis. Rumors are it belonged when it was still a Fiat to Lady Campbell, wife of the land speed record challenger, John Willment (who built race cars for Ford) and found the discarded body in a junkyard and mated it to a leftover 427 Cobra competition chassis. A Holman-Moody 427 with twin four barrels was installed but Willment lost interest before the project was completed and sold it.

Ghia Cobra

AC Shelby Logo

Ghia Logo

Summary
This AC Shelby Cobra 427 Has a History
Article Name
This AC Shelby Cobra 427 Has a History
Description
There is many a twist and turn in the road for some cars. This big block Cobra, CSX3063, has more turns than many. It was auctioned by Mecum in Florida in January 2023 as a "1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster".
Author

Comments

  1. Trevor Gaunt says

    LUC72 is shown as a red 7 litre AC Cobra on UK government website with straight passes on the annual MOT test with no advisories up to 24th September 2018 (expired 26th September 2019) when the odometer read 15,930 miles. The date of first registration was 24th March 1965 and the vehicle is taxed for use on the UK public highway until 1st July 2023.

  2. Eric Cashdan says

    It’s a bitsa…….

  3. It looks like this Cobra (CSX3063) was seriously degraded in price because of the history of not having the original body and maybe the body not even being made by AC.

    Another 427 Cobra with a cleaner history and original body sold at the same auction for significantly more at $1.43 million. See the link below.

    https://www.mecum.com/lots/FL0123-545206/1966-shelby-427-cobra-roadster/

    • Mike, you’re correct. As CSX 3063 started life as a Ghia show car and was never made as a period Cobra, it’s value was significantly impacted. Thus, even as it is beautifully redone in aluminum Cobra bodywork (not an AC body), it’s value suffered. Would likely be worth more as the one off Ghia show car, which is stunning IMO.

  4. Rob

    Wallace wrote about the AC MA-200 here – https://mycarquest.com/2019/05/the-mystery-cobra-still-confounds-historians-ac-ma200.html

    Note the owner left an informative comment.

  5. Robb Northrup says

    Value is all fine and dandy. But it’s still a Cobra and that means something to the new owner. Forget the heritage, just put the peddle to the metal and enjoy the rocket ride!

    • Jeffrey Gagnon says

      Its a great car, it is as Rob K stated initially a Ghia and not a Cobra. The only shared Cobra attributes would have been the ladder part of the frame “maybe” which was 96″. (Cobra is 90″)
      All the underpinning superstructure would have been GHIA, not Cobra and to really be a Cobra it would have had to have been pushed through SAI in the 60’s to which it had not, there is no evidence of that anywhere.

      SAAC has now taken it out of the registry as it has no connection to the original 60’s VIN to which it was sold as. At SAAC 20 it did say last comp chassis however written by the owner no doubt, will my car become a real Cobra if I write that on it? There were no markings from CSX3063 as I understand on the car before it was re-born in circa 1978-9. All areas where a VIN would be stamped were removed and pictured from when the car was cut in half (two peices), then reborn again after as one. Was this CSX3063 even then?? Was this a cobbled together recreation from two wrecked CSX frames?? We will never know, funny how the stories take on a life of their own with these cars. I say “Premium Price” for a nice car with a long story and some hand waiving attributes at any car show.
      Probably see this in 15 years again listed as the last chassis Cobra… Time may blur the truth and it could yet become a genuine Shelby Cobra…. Maybe even be put back in the Registry….

  6. wallace wyss says

    You reminded me of still another Cobra-chassis-used-for-another car.It’s hard to believe now but there was a company called something like Electric Propulsion Co in Ferndale in the late ’60s, and they ordered six (Bring a Trailer says 8) 427 Cobra chassis to make into electric cars. It’s no coincidence that a Ford engineer was moonlighting for the firm, probably when they asked for a chassis he said sumpthin’ like ‘Well, I know of these chassis just sittin’ there.” Maybe if one of those chassis is found it still has the CSX number on it. Bring a Trailer gives it a different SN and it’s on their website. They say: over $37K has been bid on the chassis by 1-25-22

    This AC Cars coil-spring chassis is one of eight rolling chassis built specially for Electric Fuel Propulsion in Ferndale, Michigan, for use in the construction of proposed experimental battery-electric vehicles. Chassis EFX502 was delivered new to EFP in 1969 but was never completed by the company and was subsequently sold in its chassis-only state. It was then acquired by its current owner in 1977. The chassis was built with a modified design tailored to accommodate the dimensions and weight of a series of batteries while sharing the AC Cobra’s 90” wheelbase and 4″-diameter main tubes. Additional features include wire wheels, Dunlop SP tires, four-wheel independent suspension with coilover shock absorbers, and brake discs at each corner. This AC EFX-series chassis is now offered on dealer consignment in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with a bill of sale.

  7. wallace wyss says

    hassis is now offered on dealer consignment in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with a bill of sale.

     

  8. Jeffrey Gagnon says

    And this too will become a Cobra, then is it worth $600k?
    Maybe so…..

  9. So I guess that means you could buy a AC Frua (complete with CSX chassis) for 200K, have a body made for it and sell it for 600- million?

  10. You mean $600,000? I couldn’t find the SN iistings for AC 428s but I don’t think they started with CSX which means Carroll Shelby Experimental. But Wikipedia describes the A428 frame as:
    “AC Cobra 427 Mark III” four inch (100 mm) tube frame extended by 6 inches (150 mm).
    Front engine, rear drive.

  11. Hey MIE, what you are fearful of is already happening–aging 428 Fruas are being cannibalized for their chassis, which once shortened 6″ in wheelbase, can accommodate a 427 Cobra body. On an AC Owner’s club website I found one such case but they mention this fate awaits other 428 Fruas that are rusty or otherwise undesirable…
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    08, 11:38:40 »
    Hi David

    Both conversions already known and listed thanks in a first draft AC 428 Register I cobbled together late last year, which the Club has since removed to be replaced hopefully with their glossy on-line version sometime soon. [8D] I can attach a copy to an e-mail if you need.

    To bring you up to date….

    1.

    Extracted and copied across from old Register I’ve saved on hard drive :

    CFX 35: Fastback. Automatic. Now 428/ Cobra Conversion.
    Manual. LHD. Trade advert: La Baule, Brittany France.
    Status: Active.
    E-mail received 5/1/08.
    “Dear Sir,
    the car we have for sale is a conversion from an AC Frua 428 to an AC Cobra
    427. The engine is not the original 428 but a 302 that has been fully
    prepared and that devellopps 450 HP. The body is a SC one. The chassis
    number is CFX 35. Aluminium oil and water radiator. Aluminium vapor oil
    Tank. Aluminium water expansion tank. Special laiton 3 discs clutch. Gearbox
    is a toploader close ratio, wheels are original halibrand with hoosier
    tyres.
    Price is 200 000 €uros.
    Sincerly yours,
    Nicolas QUERARD
    PH : 00 33 2 40 24 10 36”

    http://www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/classic-car-page.php/carno/23219

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