October 24, 2021

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Shelby’s Shelby Sells for $5.9m at Mecum Kissimmee

CSX3178 — Shelby's personal 427 Cobra. Image: Mecum Auctions

Carroll Shelby’s Cobras are highly valued in the collector world, but only a few of these cars were owned by the man himself. CSX3178 is one of those cars, and it just sold to a new owner at the Kissimmee auction for $5,940,000, including buyer’s premium.

If you’ve been following Cobra prices, you know that’s a big price for a 427 car — they tend to trade for roughly half that or less depending on configuration and history. That said, this car is special, as it spent its entire life with Carroll Shelby as his own personal 427.

Legendary Motorcar Company restored CSX3178 to 1965 specifications — as Shelby built it. Image: Mecum Auctions

During Shelby’s ownership, the car changed numerous times. It was originally gray with a 4-speed and a 428. It was painted Guardsman Blue with a gold nose stripe in 1972, and at some point it was fitted with a 427 side-oiler and an automatic. Later it was painted red — but that’s all par for the course for the man who originally set out to build exactly what he wanted in a sports car. Did you really think he’d leave it alone? 

After Shelby’s death, his estate sold this car at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016. There, as lot 119 and done up in red, it made $1,375,000. Today’s price represents quite a boost in value over that number, but the car has changed, too.

CSX3178 as it appeared in 2016, prior to its current restoration. Image by Darin Schnabel ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Here at Kissimmee, CSX3178 was restored to how it was delivered to Shelby in 1966, complete with one-of-five charcoal paint and the 4-speed manual.

What’s behind this price? The car is unrepeatable, and I think Shelby’s legacy has only grown stronger since his death, and since the release of “Ford v. Ferrari.” The constant reminder of our own mortality in the COVID-19 era might have something to do with it, too. You only live once, and if you want the best, you go for it. Two bidders did just that here.

Will this be a continuing trend? We’ll have more in Linkage #002. In the meantime, check out the video of the moment the car found its new owner: