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The Only Unrestored Shelby Cobra FIA Roadster in Existence Is a Perfect Time Capsule

Long before he was commissioned to build beefed-up Mustangs and the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40, Carroll Shelby decided to stuff big V8 engines in the British-made AC Ace. The result was named the Shelby Cobra and turned out to be a fantastic idea.
1964 Shebly Cobra FIA Roadster 6 photos
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Not only an extremely potent and appealing sports car for the road, but the Cobra was also a tremendous racer. It was entered in more than 500 events and scored overall and class victories on just about any important race track out there. And in 1965, it helped Ford defeat Ferrari in the World Sportcars Championship.

Chassis no. CSX2345, one of only five FIA-spec Cobras ever built, is the car that brought Ford about 60% of its championship points. Recently featured on Petersen Automotive Museum's YouTube channel, this race-winning roadster survived for almost 60 years as an unrestored time capsule.

This feat is perhaps more impressive than its results on the race track. That's because race cars rarely made it in one piece at the end of a racing season back in the day. Amazingly enough, this Cobra survived both the 1964 and 1965 championships almost unscathed.

And it's the only one that soldiered on unrestored, still wearing the tires it had when Bob Bondurant raced it for the last time in June 1965. What's more, it's one of only two FIA-spec Cobras that have survived. Yup, the other three were destroyed beyond repair in the 1960s.

So what made this Cobra so fast on the race track? Well, the 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V8 under the hood was good for 385 horsepower back in the day, but it was the power-to-weight ratio that made the Cobra quicker than some prototypes of the era. These cars were light.

And of course, the fact that it was driven by some of the best drivers of the decade, including Bob Bondurant, Phil Hill, and Roy Salvadori, also helped.

Now residing in the Shelby American collection in Boulder, Colorado, this Cobra is perhaps worth more than $15 million, which would make it the most expensive of its kind should it go under the hammer. But it's very unlikely that this race car will cross the block anytime soon, so we may never find out.

Now go check out the video below to learn more about it. And make sure you watch until the end because there's a special treat of the V8 burble variety at the 9:20-minute mark.

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