Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that this car is titled as a Ford. Please also note the original pistons and connecting rods do not accompany the sale of this vehicle, however, many additional components are available to any interested Buyer to be shipped at Buyer’s expense. For a list of the available components, please inquire with a specialist.
Early Production Example in Original LiveryMatthew Dillingham, Mill Valley, California (acquired new in December 1965)Bob Gaddy, Newman, California (acquired circa March 1967)Philip Kulas, Michigan (acquired circa 1977)Jim Southard, Marietta, Georgia (acquired in 1977)Jerome Morice, New Jersey (acquired circa 1978)Nick Soprano, White Plains, New York (acquired from the above circa 1981)Harold Javetz, Savannah, Georgia (acquired from the above in 1982)Dave Painter, Evansville, Indiana (acquired from the above March 1985)Dr. Richard Morrison, Harnson, Tennessee (acquired from the above in 1989)Cory Gehling, Wisconsin (acquired from the above circa 1991)Chris Cox, Raleigh, North Carolina (acquired mid-1990s)Matthew Prowse, Colorado (acquired from the above circa 1997)Current Owner (acquired in 2001)
SAAC-3 Concours, Pasadena, California, July 1978SAAC-16 Concours, Charlotte, North Carolina, July 1991 (Popular ChoiceAward for 427 Cobras, Third Overall in Popular Choice)Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich, Connecticut, June 2003 (Special Award of Merit)SAAC-37 Concours, Watkins Glen, New York, June 2012 (Bronze Medal)
Following Carroll Shelby’s early small-block/leaf-spring Cobras, the thundering big-block/coil-spring 427 Cobra debuted for 1965 as the new “weapons grade” spearhead of Ford Motor Company’s Total Performance campaign. Developed by renowned Shelby engineer and racing driver Ken Miles, the 427 Cobra was brutally fast, and driving one remains a mind-altering experience today. Tailor-made for the top Sports Car Club of America A-Production racing class, 427 Cobras utterly dominated their opposition wherever they competed. Often sweeping the podium, 427 Cobras were piloted by many of the era’s top drivers. One of them, Dick Smith, took American Road Race of Champions titles in 1965, 1966, and 1967 and set the mark for the fastest production sports car at the 1967 Daytona ARRC at a stunning 198.047 mph.
While the success of the 427 Cobra on American tracks encouraged Shelby to unleash it for international racing, the scrappy Americans could not assemble the required 100 cars required to satisfy FIA homologation requirements and the organization’s inspectors. Since Carroll Shelby had intended to offer a road-going version of the 427 Cobra from the beginning, the car was redeveloped – only ever-so-slightly – for street use, and it became the most formidable sports car available anywhere in America from the showroom floor. Generally recognized by Shelby authorities as Coil-Spring Cobras, the big-block cars were never mass-produced in the literal sense of the term, despite their obvious allure to hard-core driving enthusiasts. According to the Shelby American Automobile Club, production numbered 343 in all, including 260 street roadsters.
Regardless of their form or specification, the 427 Cobra was a mighty racing car and virtually unbeatable on the road, but the hard life claimed many of them early on. Today, it is exceedingly difficult to find a good example in its factory-original configuration with well-documented provenance. The 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra on offer here, chassis CSX3165, marks a notable and immensely desirable exception to the rule.
This early production 427 Cobra, presented in its factory original color scheme, carries a fascinating history exhaustively documented in the Shelby American Automobile Club’s World Registry of Cobras & GT40s from new to the current owner. Invoiced to Shelby American on August 16, 1965, this Cobra was ordered on October 7, 1965, via San Francisco’s S&C Motors by Matthew Dillingham of Mill Valley, California, who was seeking a replacement for his supercharged Jaguar XKE. The Cobra was billed to S&C Motors on December 3, 1965, listing “CSX3165, 1966 427 Cobra, Green/black, $6,145.00.” The pre-delivery service was performed at Hi-Performance Motors, Carroll Shelby’s Southern California dealership, and Dillingham picked up the car there.
In September 1966, following a number of visits to S&C Motors for warranty service, Dillingham advertised CSX3165 for sale in the Bay Area: “1966 427 Cobra. British Racing Green finish. 5,300 miles. Never raced or wrecked. Wide fender flares. Scarce Goodyear Blue Streak R-3s, 1 1.90 and 9.75 x 15 transmit full power. This car is well shaken out, handles beautifully and goes like stink. With the exception of tires, it is stock. Price is open, but should be about $6,750.” By March 1967, the Cobra was owned by a fellow Californian. Subsequently, it was sold to a Michigan resident, still finished in green. In 1977, Georgia collector Jim Southard acquired the Cobra; he had it repainted Guardsman Blue and showed it in 1978 at the SAAC-3 convention in Pasadena, California. Southard advertised CSX3165 for sale in September 1978 in the fast-rising Cobra market, with the car passing to Jerome Morice of New Jersey, then to Nick Soprano in New York, who around 1982 traded it to Harold Javetz of Savannah, Georgia, in exchange for a Ferrari 250 LM.
This Cobra, still configured in street form, carrying Halibrand “Sunburst” wheels and displaying about 34,000 miles, was sold by Javetz in 1985 to Dave Painter of Evansville, Indiana. Mr. Painter had the chassis cleaned and repainted, the body painted black and S/C features added. Dr. Richard Morrison then acquired it, and later sold it to Cory Gehling in Wisconsin. Mr. Gehling further sorted the car and showed it in Charlotte at the SAAC-16 convention, where it garnered Third Place in the popular vote category. By the mid-1990s, collector Chris Cox acquired it, and then another owner held it until January 2001, when the consignor acquired it with the wise counsel of Ned Scudder, the longtime SAAC Cobra Registrar.
Following its purchase, CSX3165 was road-registered in New York, and it has benefited from limited and knowledgeable enjoyment and a program of methodical care and maintenance performed by recognized professionals. During the consignor’s tenure, the Cobra was returned to its proper street configuration and given a bare-metal strip and refinish in its factory-specified green. Both the suspension and the original 427 Ford medium-riser engine were rebuilt by the Shelby experts at Curt Vogt’s Cobra Automotive in Wallingham, Connecticut. During the engine rebuild, the original pistons and connecting rods were replaced, but were retained and accompany CSX3165 at auction.
Regarding the Cobra’s engine, Curt Vogt, a member of the SAAC board of directors, recently stated, “This is a proper 1965 block with a casting date of Oct. 19th, 1964. Everything I remember about your engine led me to believe it was the original engine for your car including these numbers (C5AE-A) on the block…. This 427 low riser/center oiler style of engine is correct for 3100 serial number Cobras.” Importantly, the rugged T-10 four-speed gearbox is believed to be original to the car as well. For enhanced safety, the S/C-style driver’s roll hoop remains fitted, but can be removed and reinstalled as desired.
As offered, CSX3165 is handsome in its factory colors and highly engaging in proper street form, with taut, muscular bodylines that speak for themselves. With so many 427 Cobras lost or seriously damaged in competition or on the streets, it is truly a rare occasion to encounter an original early production 427 Cobra in its proper configuration, retaining its correct engine and gearbox. Accompanied by documents from purchase in 2001 including the New York registration document, dozens of work invoices, copies of SAAC-37 judging sheets, owner’s manual, and tools, CSX3165 is well-known to the Shelby community and blessed with outstanding provenance. Superb throughout, it stands as one of the finest big-block Cobras in existence.