The 100th Shelby Cobra Is Up for Auction This Week at Monterey 

Bought, raced, abandoned and restored, this 289 Cobra Roadster is the real deal

1963 Shelby 289 Cobra
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra — the 100th production Cobra.
Mecum Auctions

It’s time once again for Monterey Car Week, a glitzy celebration of cars where some of the most rare and expensive automobiles are up for auction. There are plenty of amazing cars going onto the block this year, including this original 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra Roadster. 

The Shelby Cobra is an often replicated car which makes the originals particularly special finds. According to the serial number, this 1963 model is believed to be the 100th production Cobra to roll out of Shelby American. 

Like many of the cars making their way to Monterey, this Cobra’s been on a long personal journey over the years. Starting off as an order from a Ford dealer in Washington, the Cobra was Delivered from Shelby American with a black-on-black spec on painted wire wheels. It houses a Ford-sourced 289 CI V8 engine married to a four-speed manual gearbox. 

Three years later, the Cobra was traded in by the original owner to a used car dealership in Seattle, when a man appropriately named Mr. Streets purchased it. Streets discovered that the gearbox had been fitted with an aftermarket bellhousing and 4.56 gears which, when used in sports cars, provide better acceleration. It seemed to indicate that, before the trade-in, the original owner used the Cobra in drag racing. “Race it on Sunday, sell it on Monday,” as the saying goes. 

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Streets took the Shelby to Canada where it was sold in 1975. Records indicate that by 1978, the Cobra had collected around 27,800 miles when it was parked in a barn with a blown engine and forgotten. 

In 1982, the Shelby was rediscovered by a Calgary resident with ties to a local Ford dealership, who rebuilt the engine, repainted the exterior and replaced the surely rotting old interior before auctioning it off in 1985. After bouncing owners a few more times, it was purchased by its current owner who has been the Cobra’s caretaker for 15 years. 

In its current state, the Shelby Cobra doesn’t look too far from its original specifications, save from a bit of wear. The seats are also swapped out from another Cobra when that one was prepped for racing. This Cobra also comes with a gaggle of original equipment like weather gear to close up the top, a tool kit and a jack. 

Underneath, some parts have been either rebuilt or replaced, but it’s mostly a complete original and expected to sell for about $1 million at Monterey. If you’re eager to scoop up the 100th Shelby Cobra, it’s being auctioned off by Mecum Auctions this week, along with a number of other bonafide classics.

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