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Here’s What Makes The 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 So Special

Carroll Shelby is greatly remembered as the most influential American automotive designer, known for building a plethora of legendary cars. With his fierce passion and dedication, Carroll’s work made a huge contribution to the automotive world. Before he left the international racing scene, Carroll had the pleasure of driving some of the fastest and most expensive cars. Even today, Carroll’s legacy shines through some of his greatest creations, as well as brands like Ford and Dodge.

This sports car legacy started with the Cobra CSX 2000. This Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 was the very first Cobra ever produced. The credit goes to the man himself, Carroll Shelby, and his crew, who assembled the automobile in a modest Californian garage. After its incredible inception, the Cobra CSX 2000 served as the model for the Shelby American brand.

In addition to popularizing Shelby’s skills, the CSX 2000 also helped pave the way for today’s high-performance cars like the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. Overall, the Shelby Cobra CSX is a car that changed the course of the auto industry, and will always remain relevant.

Here’s why the 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 is a special build.

The 1962 Cobra CSX 2000 Was An Exclusive Breed Owned By Carroll Shelby Himself

1962-shelby-cobra-csx-2000-exterior rear-angle
RM Sotheby’s

Unlike other cars that were massively dished out to the public, there was only one Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 ever made. And this model belonged to Carroll Shelby himself. Upon its completion, Shelby showed the car off at different Motoring press venues, where it also served as a testing and development car.

The amusing aspect is that Shelby misled the public into believing that Cobra production was booming while, in reality, there was only one Cobra in existence at the time—the CSX 2000. For the first seven months of its existence, he changed the paint to create the appearance of multiple vehicles, which helped pull off the ruse. Carroll Shelby certainly had a sense of humor.

After spending decades wowing the crowd – even after Shelby’s passing, the Cobra CSX 2000 was finally auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s in Monterey in August 2016, where it went for a whopping $13,750,000, breaking the record for an American car sold at auction. The previous record-holder was the 1968 Ford GT40, which sold for just $11 million in 2012.

RELATED: How Much A Shelby Cobra 289 Dragonsnake Classic Muscle Car Costs Today

Attractive And Simplistic Exterior

1962 Shelby Cobra CSX 2000
RM Sotheby’s

Making its debut at the 1962 New York Auto Show in April, the Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 flaunted a stylish, yet familiar look, as it got built using the chassis and body of the British-designed AC Ace sports car. Shelby only made other fewer adjustments when building the Cobra, like the engine. But, in terms of appearance, the Cobra and the AC Ace are pretty much identical. With the Ford engine tucked underneath that hood, the Cobra was simply an AC Ace that passed for a much more potent and quick vehicle.

Like the AC Ace, the Shelby Cobra’s styling features a large front end, with “bug-eye” headlights, smaller circular lights used as parking and turn signals, as well as protruding wheel arches. We love how the frown-like grille blends in well with the two frame posts.

Above the wheels, the Cobra had the same proportions. What makes the Cobra unique – aside from the engine, of course – is the special front hood.

The interior of the Cobra took the AC Ace’s simplistic approach. Still, featured inside the Cobra was the steering wheel with metal spokes and a round knob shifter that sat in the center of the tunnel next to the hand brake lever.

The 1962 Shelby Cobra Carried Ford’s 260 HP V8

RM Sotheby’s

By the early 1960s, the AC Ace’s 2.0-liter inline-six engine, which could only muster 100 horsepower, was absurdly antiquated. Carroll Shelby’s suggestion to employ Ford’s 260 HiPo V8 engine is sometimes credited with saving AC from bankruptcy, but in reality, development had already begun on the Ace’s successor, which would have used Ford’s 2.6-liter Zephyr engine. However, the AC Ace Shelby used to build the Cobra had already undergone significant modifications to accommodate the Zephyr engine.

So, the 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 carries a Ford V8 with 260 cubic inches. Producing 260 horsepower, the engine features a genuine blue paint on the valve covers, as well as the enormous filter perched atop the carburetor. It’s crazy when you think of how much elbow grease went into fitting this massive engine into the AC’s engine compartment.

RELATED: Diesel Power: A Volkswagen Golf TDI Takes On An AC Shelby Cobra In A Competitive Drag Race

The 1962 Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 Could Achieve A 0-60 MPH Sprint In 4.2 Seconds

RM Sotheby’s

Thanks to Ford’s mighty V8 engine, as well as the lightweight aluminum build, the Shelby Cobra has an impressive performance, accelerating from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. On a longer strip, the Shelby Cobra CSX 2000 could run a quarter-mile in 13.08 seconds at 112 mph, before topping out at a 153 mph peak speed. While this was an impressive leap back in the early ’60s, it might not seem like a lot by today’s standards, especially with modern American muscle cars churning out up to 700 horsepower and sprinting to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds.

But, all in all, without this car, we would’ve never known Cobra, and without that, the GT40 wouldn’t have been in existence, along with Shelby American as a whole.

Sources: RM Sotheby’s, Shelby


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