The iconic Shelby Cobra — based on the British-built AC Ace roadster — first left Carroll Shelby’s shop in 1962 with a 4.3-liter, V-8 engine under its hood. It took the Cobra name only a few months to become famous and Carroll quickly turned to making it equally popular on the race track. Although the 4.7-liter version was unbeatable in the U.S. racing scene throughout 1964, Carroll also wanted the Cobra to become competitive in the FIA GT class, which was dominated by Ferrari back in the early 1960s. Thus the Cobra 427 was born, a roadster that featured wider fenders, fatter tires, an upgraded chassis and a massive, 7.0-liter, V-8 engine.

Notwithstanding the fact that it missed homologation for the 1965 racing season, the Cobra 427 went on to capture the SCCA’s covered "A Production" championship. A the same time, its road-legal version rocked the sports car world thanks to its amazingly powerful engine and reduced weight, which combined helped the Cobra obliterate most of its competitors. As the 427 turns 50 years old in January 2015, Shelby American is building 50 new examples, which are dubbed the 50th Anniversary Cobra 427, to commemorate the occasion and bring back the most powerful roadster of the 1960s. Read on for the full details.

Click past the jump to read more about the Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427.

Shelby Cobra 427 Videos

Start-up and Fly-by


Exterior

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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Visually, these continuation Cobra 427s are identical to their original siblings in every little detail, starting with the huge gaping mouth in the front, the muscular rear fenders, the simple windscreen and the rollover hoop behind the driver seat. The side exhaust, a trademark feature of the Cobra 427, is present as well, along with the wide tires and the period-accurate wheels. Only a couple of special "50th Anniversary" gold badges for the hood, sides and the trunk let onlookers know this is a modern-day, continuation-series Cobra and not an original, 1960s car.

Two exterior finishes are available. Customers that opt for the fiber glass body will have their Cobra painted in Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes. Those that select the aluminum body can get the aforementioned blue-and-white combo or a polished-aluminum finish with or without brushed stripes.

Interior

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 High Resolution Interior
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The interior of the 50th Anniversary 427 remains true to the original. The dashboard features the same gauge configuration that features three dials behind the steering wheel and four on the center of the dashboard. The classic knobs and switches are there too, but a quick comparison with the original model reveals there’s an additional button on the modern version. Other than that, there’s the same three-spoke, wood-rimmed steering wheel, AC-branded pedals, long shifter, and simple glove box.

To indicate this is a special model, Shelby added in a "50th Anniversary" logo on the steering gold wheel’s center cap and a matching embroidering on the black floor mats. Another added feature that sets this continuation Cobra apart from its original ancestor is the optional high-quality black leather the seats are wrapped in.

Drivetrain

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Drivetrain
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Since Shelby American doesn’t provide an engine with the 2015 Cobra 427, it’s up to each customer to bolt a drivetrain onto the company’s rolling chassis. With the original Cobra 427 motivated by a Ford-sourced, naturally aspirated, 7.0-liter mill, it’s only appropriate that this continuation Cobra gets a similar powerplant. The best place to buy a modern 7.0-liter is Ford Racing Parts, which sells four different 351-based competition crate engines.

All of them are more powerful than the Cobra’s original powerplant, with the standard Boss 351 blocks delivering up to 535 horsepower and up to 545 pound-feet of twist. Opt for the aluminum crate engine and output increases to 600 horsepower and 558 pound-feet of torque, which should allow the Cobra to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds.

As a refresher, the original Cobra 427 came with 410 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of twist, which was sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox. The roadster reached its top speed at 165 mph.

Chassis, Suspension and Brakes

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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Although it features the same frame and suspension as its ancestor, the 2015 Cobra 427’s vital components have been upgraded to modern standards. The frame is stronger, the suspension has been retuned for improved stability, while the old inboard brakes have been replaced with modern discs that feature two-piston calipers and 11.4-inch rotors on the front and rear.

Prices

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Like most continuation Cobras, the 50th Anniversary 427 doesn’t come cheap. Pricing begins from $119,995 for a fiberglass body and from $179,995 for an aluminum shell. The sticker doesn’t include the engine, which has to be purchased separately. For reference, the aforementioned Ford Racing crate engines cost between $8,995 and $14,995, but customers will also have to source a transmission. All told, a complete Cobra 427 with a brand-new drivetrain will cost at least $135,000.

Shelby American will build only 50 units of the 50th Anniversary 427. The roadster will be delivered as rolling chassis that can be finished by the customer or an authorized dealer. Each car will be documented in the World Registry alongside the original 343 Cobras built by Shelby American in the 1960s. The 2015 Cobra 427 will come with CSX4550 to CSX4599 serial numbers and will come with a 1965 manufacturer statement of origin.

Competition

Caterham Seven 620R

2013 Caterham Seven 620 R High Resolution Exterior
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While it might not be as powerful and menacing as the Shelby Cobra 427, the Caterham Seven works on similar principles and it’s one of the very few automobiles that remained relatively unchanged for several decades. Sure, the modern-day Seven is packed with contemporary technology, but its purpose and appearance are the same. Caterham’s lightweight sports car can be had in many shapes and sizes for the 2015 model year, with the most powerful model being the 620R. Weighing only 1,200 pounds and motivated by a 311-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-banger, the 620R is the quickest road-going Seven ever built thanks to a 0-to-60-mph sprint of only 2.8 seconds. Unfortunately, the 620R isn’t available in the United States.

That doesn’t mean you can’t buy a Seven on this side of the pond, but you’ll have to settle for the less powerful 480 model. Although fitted with the exact same 2.0-liter, Ford Duratec engine, the 480 has only 237 ponies and 151 pound-feet at its disposal. However, with 60 mph coming in only 3.4 seconds, it’s quite fast in its own right. Pricing for the Seven 480 starts at $52,900, but for that price you don’t get a drivetrain, meaning you’ll have to fork an additional $12,950 for the engine and gearbox. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Puritalia 427

2013 Puritalia 427 Exterior
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If you’re looking for a more modern car that still carries classic roadster cues, then the Puritalia 427 is a choice you should consider. Developed by Italian start-up company Puritalia Automobili, the 427 pays homage to the classic body shapes of the iconic roadsters of the 1960s and the Shelby Cobra in particular. Its neo-retro design includes many cues seen on the Cobra, especially up front, but its interior adopts a different theme and features a navigation system, a feature you cannot get on the Cobra 427.

Although its "427" badge suggests there’s a 7.0-liter V-8 under the hood, the Puritalia is actually powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 sourced from the Ford Mustang GT. A naturally aspirated version makes 445 horsepower and 390 pound-feet, while the supercharged option churns 605 ponies and 472 pound-feet. Granted, the Puritalia 427 is arguably the most exciting neo-retro roadster to come alive in the 21st century, but there are two downsides to it as of December 2014. Puritalia has yet to commence production as it’s still gathering preorders to finance the project, while the sticker the Italians are asking for it is pretty steep at €180,000 plus taxes, which converts to nearly $220,000 as of 12/31/2014. Suddenly, the 2015 Cobra 427 seems quite affordable.

Conclusion

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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With only 31 examples built for road use, the Cobra 427 S/C is one of the most valuable Cobras nowadays, with an original, well-maintained example able to fetch more than $1.5 million. Aside from being expensive, 427s are also hard to find, as not a lot of owners are willing to part with their road-legal muscle racer. And this is where the 2015 Cobra 427 comes in by providing Cobra enthusiasts with the chance to buy one of Shelby’s most iconic designs for less than $200,000. Sure, that’s still expensive with race-bred sports cars like the Dodge Viper and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 around, but the Cobra 427 name comes with one of the most exciting automotive stories ever told attached to it.

  • Leave it
    • Drivetrain not included in the package
    • Not exactly affordable
    • Not as valuable as the original 427

Press Release

Shelby American, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carroll Shelby International Inc. (CSBI:PK) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the big block Cobra by offering 50 limited edition versions of the iconic roadster. Each continuation Cobra will be painted Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes, equipped with a premium black leather interior and other special touches. The 50th Anniversary 427 Shelby Cobra will debut at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., beginning January 13, 2015.

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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“The big block Shelby Cobra changed the way the world viewed American manufacturers when Carroll Shelby introduced it in January 1965,” said Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “While the small block cars were successful, the all new FE-powered Cobra took everything to the extreme. Far more powerful and sophisticated, the big block Cobra represented the bold American spirit. Shelby American’s goal was to create the world’s first hyper car and the Cobra lived up to its potential.”

Shelby American built the big block Cobras specifically to conquer all other sports cars, both American-made and European. With an all new coil spring independent suspension, larger passenger compartment, upgraded brakes, wider track, fatter tires and a big block Ford engine, the Cobra rocked the world. In its first year of production, the big block Cobra captured the SCCA’s coveted “A Production” championship. The Cobras also ran rampant in sanctioned drag racing series nationwide.

“The 427 Cobra is the purest expression of Carroll Shelby’s vision of a performance car,” said Akos J. Feher, Shelby American Vice President of Operations. “He believed in combining big horsepower with inspired engineering. The big block Cobra featured an all new coil over suspension that would allow the lightweight frame to handle a powerful American big block engine. The car just exudes masculinity. The Cobra’s ‘no holds barred’ attitude is still part of the DNA of every car we build today.”

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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The anniversary Shelby Cobras are component vehicles that can be finished by a customer or an authorized dealer. Each car is built to order and delivered as a rolling chassis, less drive train, with a 1965 MSO. The 427 Shelby Cobras retain everything from the authentic style suspension to the graceful body lines, but are upgraded to contemporary standards. Shelby American uses the same leather that one would find in high end cars, modern brake discs, a stronger frame and the bodies are available in either aluminum or fiberglass.

The 50th Anniversary Editions (serial numbers CSX4500 to CSX4599) have some unique differences. Special badges adorn the exterior and interior. Premium materials are used on the seats, carpets and dash. A 23 gallon racing style fuel tank, powder coated frame, racing brakes and custom gauges are standard. The paint/stripe schemes are unique and a special optional engine package is being developed by the Shelby Engine Company.

“Genuine Shelby Cobras are very rare and desirable,” said Gary Patterson, Shelby American Vice President of Strategic Sales and Media Relations. “We wanted to honor Cobra’s unique heritage, while incorporating a few upgrades that Carroll personally approved before his death in 2012. These 50 limited edition cars keep the flame sparked by the race-winning Cobras burning bright. There just isn’t anything like a real Shelby Cobra.”

2015 Shelby 50th Anniversary Cobra 427 Exterior
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The 50th Anniversary 427 Cobra will begin at $119,995 for a fiberglass or $179,995 for an aluminum bodied car, without drive train. Each will be documented in the ‘World Registry’ alongside the original 343 built by Shelby American in the 1960s. Cobras can be purchased through one of Shelby American’s dealers. Information about the cars can be found at http://www.shelbyamerican.com/50th427cobra.asp or by calling (702) 942-7325.

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