’65 Shelby Cobra 427 Prototype at Russo and Steele

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Doing various photography work for Russo and Steele, one of the premiere automobile auctions in the country, I get to be around and photograph a large number of amazing cars.  A perfect example of that is this very special ’65 Shelby Cobra 427 I recently shot for their upcoming Scottsdale auction (January 18-22nd, 2011).  Over the past few years I’ve come to really appreciate the earlier, smaller displacement Cobras over the later and more brash cars.  However, seeing and, maybe more importantly, hearing this made me realize that I’ve actually just grown a little tired of all of the Cobra 427 recreations out there.  Being around the real deal again quickly made me remember what makes them so great.  What follows is Russo and Steele’s press release for this car:

This 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 CSX3127 Changed Automotive History by Paving the Way for the Production of All 427 Street Cobras.

This original, 427 Cobra was fourth of just 260 original 427 Street Cobras produced by Shelby and specifically used as Shelby’s PR test Vehicle.

Scottsdale, Arizona (October 27, 2011) – This original 427 Cobra built at Shelby American in 1965 was the fourth of just 260 original 427 Street Cobras produced by Shelby. While most Cobras were shipped by boat to the States, the importance of 3127 is demonstrated by the fact that it was not only shipped by air, but also delivered to Shelby in bare aluminum rather than painted.  In fact, this statement is not just conjecture, but fact, as found in factory records obtained from AC Cars Limited that show chassis number 3127 is listed on their invoice as “Prototype Mk.II Road Car, Unpainted, Black Leather,” was completed (without being painted) and shipped to Shelby American in Los Angeles by air.

Why the special treatment? This particular 427 Cobra CSX3127 served as Shelby’s test vehicle to gauge customer response to the 427 Street cars. Shelby American records indicate 3127 was completed by them on September 9th, 1965, after which it was also used as Shelby’s demonstrator and public relations car.

As with all Carroll Shelby’s PR cars, he made sure that they were seen with the right people behind the wheel.  However, this particular 427 Cobra found itself at the center of Hollywood when it was loaned to celebrities and movie studios, such as Universal Studios and Paramount Studios. In fact, Astronaut Scott Carpenter was loaned 3127 in May of 1966, when his personal 427 Cobra (3230) was being painted by Shelby American. After Carpenter returned 3127 it was again loaned to Robert Cophier, a high level Ford executive. Shelby American continued using 3127 for similar duties until May 26, 1967 when it was sold to its first owner, Gregory Peabody. Mr. Peabody kept the car until May of 1980, when he sold it with just 19,000 miles to Sloan Krister. Six years later Krister sold the car to United Artists, who bestowed the automobile to actor Sylvester Stallone upon completion of the movie “Cobra” as a gift. Stallone later sold 3127 to producer Jeff Mohr.

In 1996 John Zinsmeyer purchased 3127 from Mohr and contracted noted Cobra restorer, Mike McCluskey to perform a concours level restoration. CSX 3127 was eventually passed to John Sinders in 2001 and later sold to prominent Cobra authority, Colin Comer in 2005. Comer applied the stunning black paint it retains today as well as thoroughly sorted the car mechanically.

Since CSX 3127’s introduction to the public it has been featured on the 1989 Mac Tools calendar; in The Shelby American magazine #56; featured and track tested on Spike TV’s hit show “MuscleCar” in 2006; was shown at the ISCA’s World of Wheels show in 2006 where it won Outstanding Engine, Outstanding Restored, and Best of Show; and has completed the Copperstate 1000 road rally twice (2006 and 2008), both times without skipping a beat for the entire 1000 miles.

Although few Cobras have survived and are now highly coveted by collectors worldwide, none can rival the unique Prototype designation, noteworthy and celebrity ownership history, historical significance with detail in authenticity, quality of restoration and attention to detail, all culminating to establish CSX 3127 as one of the few elite collectable pieces of Shelby American automotive history. The high profile exposure and the overwhelmingly positive public reaction given to 3127 changed automotive history by greatly abetting to the creation of a marketplace for the 427 Street Cobra. If it were not for this particular 427 Cobra and the hype surrounding it today, we may not have had 427 Street Cobras; unquestionably one of the most iconic vehicles of our time.

In addition to this 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra CSX 3127 Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions 12th Annual Scottsdale Auction will offer over 700 of the highest quality collector automobiles. Once again featuring an “all-encompassing environment” in which all the event elements including the main auction block, vehicle staging, vendors, sponsors and all the amenities that Russo and Steele is uniquely known for will be held. Experience Russo and Steele first hand this January 18-22, 2012; located at the intersection of the Loop 101 Freeway and Scottsdale Road in North Scottsdale.