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Shelby 427 Competition Cobra – Car Profile

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra offered at Automobiles of London saleThis 1965 Shelby 427 Competition Cobra (CSX3006) will be offered for sale at RM Auctions and Sotheby’s Automobiles of London auction to be held October 28th, 2009 at Battersea Evolution in London. Its pre-sale estimate is unavailable.

According to the Shelby American World Registry, chassis CSX 3006 was billed to Shelby American on December 31, 1964. The work order was opened on January 25th to build CSX3006 for William G. Freeman of Muncie, Indiana. Upon Freeman’s request, the car was finished in metallic blue, slightly lighter than the team cars, and had gold stripes. It was invoiced to Hi-Performance Motors of Los Angeles with a cost of $9,600, plus $24.86 for a shoulder harness.

Freeman picked the car up at the dealership, and, according to period photos, it was devoid of a Cobra emblem on the nose and was fitted with FIA Halibrand wheels – 6.5 inches wide in front and 8.5 inches in back. The car competed in two races before it was offered for sale in May 1965, as Freeman was offered a racing contract in Europe. Freeman did not sell the car, however, and instead took it with him to France, where it remained in storage, as evidenced by another advertisement in the Competition Press later that year.

Ultimately, an Air Force Captain from Dayton, Ohio purchased the car from Freeman as he was in France at the time. This Captain in turn sold the car to the Chequered Flag of London, England in the summer of 1966. After arriving in England, the car was converted to right-hand drive and refinished in Wimbledon White with a gloss black hood and cowl, before competing in several races that year, including Goodwood (May 1966) and Zeltweg, Austria (October 1966).

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Side Angle

Brands Hatch, 1966

Its biggest success, however, was a win at Brands Hatch in the Ilford 500 (May 1966), driven by co-drivers David Piper and Bob Bondurant. Much like the car itself, the Piper-Bondurant racing duo represented the finest racing talent from England and America. David Piper, who was in his mid-thirties at the time, had already competed in Formula 1 for two seasons and was a veteran sports car driver. Bob Bondurant, whose name has since been associated with the eponymous racing school, had started his racing career a decade earlier and in 1963 joined Shelby’s Cobra team, securing the GT class win at Le Mans. By 1966, he was an internationally recognized racing driver and had served as technical consultant on the epic famed Formula 1 motion picture Grand Prix, directed by John Frankenheimer and starring James Garner. In 1966, the same year he drove this Cobra at Brands Hatch, he also started numerous Grands Prix and finished fourth at Monaco.

According to the June 1966 issue of Motorsport Magazine, the Ilford 500 started in a “torrential downpour” at 2:10 p.m. after a supporting 15-lap Formula 3 race, which Piers Courage won in a Lotus-Ford. Given the inclement weather, the sports car race was limited to 500 miles or six hours, whichever was shorter, and the rolling start was changed to the traditional standing start. Entries that day included everything from the big block Cobra to a Ford GT40 and a Jaguar E-Type.

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Interior Picture

Innes Ireland took the lead at the start with his GT40 and held it for twelve laps, before spinning at Stirling’s Bend. J. Oliver in his E-Type took the lead and staved off the competition until lap 85, when he was replaced by K. Baker, who spun off as well. CSX 3006 eventually took the lead and held it until the end. As David Piper remarked in a recent interview with RM Auctions, “CSX 3006 was extremely well prepared for the race by Graham Warner and the team at Chequered Flag…the Cobras were very reliable cars.”

In fact, Chequered Flag had entered another big block Cobra that day, a coupé driven by Chris Irwin and Roy Pike, which retired after engine trouble on lap 95. Although the terrible weather conditions had evened the field somewhat, Bondurant and Piper were able to harness their big block behemoth in the turns, winning outright with Peter Sutcliffe’s GT40 in second place.

Reflecting on this race, Piper continued, “The seven-litre Cobra was prodigiously quick, especially in a straight line and quite a handful on the bends in the wet which this race was. I’m quite sure this was the first time I ever drove a seven-litre Cobra.” The winning team was awarded a lovely silver plate as well as a set of engraved glasses. Mr. Piper had this trophy proudly displayed on the wall in his English house until it was stolen from his home, only to be rediscovered by his wife in an antiques shop. The dealer gave it to her as a gift after hearing of its theft!

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Left 3/4 Picture

Subsequent History

The car returned to Brands Hatch in August, driven by Chris Irwin, but by this time it had been sold by Chequered Flag to Edwin Butterworth who, according to the Shelby Registry, stored the car at a friend’s house to prevent his parents from discovering it. It is believed the car’s number plate at this time was “NAN 658D” and was later changed to “LOV 1.”

While in Butterworth’s ownership, the car was only raced twice before it was acquired in 1973 by garage owner John Carden of England. Carden offered it for sale in 1977, mistakenly identifying it as CSX 3001. Nevertheless, the car was purchased once more by Chequered Flag and sold to Michael Shoen of Phoenix, Arizona. By 1985, the car was offered for sale once more, having been restored by Geoff Howard of Accurate Restorations, who returned the car to left-hand drive configuration.

It changed hands several times in the U.S. thereafter and was acquired by David Livingston of Seattle, Washington in 1990. Livingston had the car race-prepped by marque specialists Dralle Engineering of California and fared well in vintage racing, finishing first overall in class 8 at Palm Springs that year. It was repainted Guardsman Blue a year later, and cooling vents, which were cut into the hood in the sixties, were re-installed. An appearance followed at SAC-17 in 1992. By the late 1990s, the car was being enjoyed as a fair weather driver by an enthusiast based in New Orleans. A mechanical restoration was conducted by Dralle in 2001 and included a balanced and blueprinted engine rebuild, fresh clutch and hydraulics, as well as attention to the transmission, suspension and brakes. A fresh interior was installed in 2002 before the car was sold the following year to its current owner.

Following its acquisition by this enthusiast, it was sent to renowned restoration facility Legendary Motorcar in Canada and rebuilt to its 1966 race specification, as it was when Bob Bondurant and David Piper got behind the wheel and hammered the competition 427 side-oiler around the turns in the wet at Brands Hatch. In fact, the car’s restoration was even featured on the television series Dream Car Garage, of which tapes will be sent directly to the new owner by the vendor. It was converted once more to right-hand drive and was painted white with a gloss black hood and black side pipes, roll bar and quick-jacks, precisely the way it appeared in its Chequered Flag days. Driven only about 100 miles since its restoration, the car is in perfect working order and ready for a host of different vintage racing events.

With very low production numbers, authentic competition Cobras seldom change hands. This example, with its race-winning history and provenance that includes such great names as David Piper and Bob Bondurant, is certainly one of the best examples of Carroll Shelby’s greatest legacy – the pavement-pounding big block Cobra.

[Source: RM Auctions]