Britain’s AC Cars was already producing its little Cobra model when it shipped a chassis over to the U.S. back in February 1962, modified to take a big American V-8. It was bound for Carroll Shelby, a former Army Air Force pilot, race driver and automotive designer convinced he could beat his European competition at their own game.
Working out of a small shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, Shelby and his team managed to shoehorn in a 260 cubic-inch engine lifted from a Ford Fairlane. It marked the birth of the legendary Shelby Cobra. In the coming years, Shelby would offer two even bigger engines: Ford’s 289 and 427 cubic-inch V-8s. But until his death in 2012, the legendary Texan entrepreneur kept that first Cobra for himself.
Now, four years after his death at the age of 89, the original Shelby Cobra, chassis number CSX 2000, is going up for auction, and auction house RM Sotheby’s is predicting it could set an all-time record for an American automobile.