This early Cobra is very different from later examples and modern replicars. There's a 260-cubic-inch V8 under that hood instead of a 289 or fire-breathing 427, and this Cobra rides on skinny little cross-ply tires in place of fat, grippy radials. But the most remarkable thing is just how much of the AC Ace is still visible despite Shelby's modifications. The taillights, for example, are from Lucas (which means they probably don't work), and they bear the designation "Made in England." The knock-off center lug on the wire wheels also bear AC's logo.
Like so many prestigious vehicles that cross the auction block, it's CSX2000's history that makes it distinctive. Besides being the first Shelby Cobra ever built, it spent its entire life under the ownership of Carroll Shelby himself. Shelby also used the car for development and testing, as well as media loans. According to RM Sotheby's, Road & Track rushed this original Cobra to 60 in just 4.2 seconds – that's fast today, but in 1962, it was unbelievable in a road car – and took it up to 153 miles per hour. Shelby even used the CSX2000 as a promotional tool, painting it different colors to convince the public that production was well underway.
The CSX2000 is completely unrestored, but after so many years of use we expected its body to show more signs of wear. The paint shows obvious signs of damage with significant chips and nicks throughout. Ignore the body's flaws, though, and the blue finish looks good and shiny. There are signs of wear on the Ford Blue valve covers and a lovely patina on the CSX2000 chassis identification badge. The interior is a disaster of worn and torn leather, but we the original Cobra's new owner leaves the car's look as-is. Those tears aren't pretty, but they're part of this car's impressive history.
The Carroll Hall Shelby Trust is selling CSX2000 because that's what Shelby the man dictated before he died. "Carroll and Rob Myers discussed Cobra #1 many times, and they were good friends. Their agreement that Rob would offer the car for Carroll's Trust, after he was gone, was a very emotional one for both of them," Joe Conway, one of the co-trustees for the Shelby Trust alongside Neil Cummings, told RM Sotheby's. "Neil Cummings and I are now simply carrying out Carroll's wishes, with no disrespect meant to the other individuals who meant so much to Carroll and did so much for his business and his Foundation over the years."
RM Sotheby's will auction off CSX2000 alongside a number of other historically significant Shelby Cobras during its Monterey auctions, on August 19 and 20.