So you want to buy a Cobra?

A Brief Overview
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Certainly, few cars are as iconic or desirable than a Cobra. And, to be sure, the reasons for owning a Cobra can span the gamut.

Some want them for the raw power and torque. Nothing quite focuses your hands on the wheel like a short wheelbase and 500 horsepower. Still others want a Cobra in the garage simply to be the coolest guy in the neighborhood. But whatever the rationale, the reasons guys want Cobras, extends into the thousands. Here at Specialty Sales Classics, we've sold quite a few gentlemen their first Cobra. On the other hand, there are cases where we haven't sold a Cobra; because frankly, Cobra ownership and stewardship is not for everybody. This is because the Cobra is really a race car, capable of being driven on the street.

So, if you want a Cobra, read on. Because understanding how these incredible machines came to be, and what it takes to drive and maintain one safely, will inform whether or not you need a Cobra, or maybe something that shakes the pavement just a little less?

A Little History

What we know as the Cobra was really the brainchild of Carroll Shelby, an American automotive designer who originally wrote to the British manufacturer AC Cars, asking if they would build him a car modified to accept a V8 engine. AC agreed, provided Shelby could source a suitable engine to fit into the now iconic, and familiar aluminum body. Interestingly enough he approached Chevrolet, but they said no, because they didn't want additional competition for their Corvette. But when he went to Ford, they happened to have a brand new engine which could be used for Shelby new machine, Ford's new lightweight, thin-wall cast small block V8, tuned for high performance. Over time, Shelby tried several different Ford engine configurations in the car; eventually settling on a small block 289 V8 as well as a big block 427 V8 version. And they were amazing, both in look and performance. In fact, it was the performance that built the Cobra reputation. They don't just look fast, they are fast. But remember, these were race cars, and through their development they suffered through the issues which can arise when you cram a large motor into a small chassis. Some of those issues have been alleviated in later cars, and even in some of the vast number of replica Cobras which have become common these days. But the Cobra will always remain at heart a race car. And that is why you need to prepare yourself if you intend to own one, or drive one.

The Cobra Market

Today, if you're in the market for a genuine Shelby Cobra, you'll have some interesting options. They will generally span between an original 1963 260V8 to a 1967 427SC with the big block engine, all the way to a modern fiberglass replica or kit car you can build yourself. The difference? Somewhere north of a million dollars!

While the high water mark in Cobra prices occurred back in 2006, the demand today is still incredible. The very best 427 Cobras are probably worth more than $2 million.

Small-block Cobras are significantly cheaper than their big-block brethren, but even those prices are on the rise. Some enthusiasts can remember when people were surprised that a 289 Cobra sold for $250,000. Now they're selling for twice that and there are people actively seeking them for their collections.

Then, there are also Cobras known as continuation cars, built by Shelby American. The beauty of the continuation Cobras being sold is that they allow aspiring Cobra owners to own a Shelby Cobra at a fraction of the price of an original.

So, if you are still a determined Cobra owner, check your budget and get back to your favorite Specialty Sales Classics Rep. We can show you a real Cobra in the $3,000,000 neighborhood, or we'll tempt you with a replica which looks and drives incredibly, for less than $100,000. But either way, don't expect a stereo. With those side pipes, you wouldn't hear it anyway.

Remember, Specialty Sales Classics always has a supply of Cobras in stock at their various showrooms. Click here to search the inventory.