It’s been 50 years since Carroll Shelby introduced the Ford-powered FIA Cobra and, to commemorate the occasion, Shelby American is releasing a limited edition continuation of the car, held to be among the most important in American racing history.
Authentic (and undeniably cool) features such as the period FIA livery, black original-style wheels with knock-off hubs, and widened front and rear wings have all been retained, while integral components have been upgraded to contemporary standards in the name of safety and performance – the brakes and chassis, for example.
Offered with either a glassfibre or a slightly lighter aluminium body, each of the 50 ‘Viking Blue’ 289 FIAs – internally dubbed the CSX7000 – will be delivered as a rolling chassis. Choice of powertrain is up to you, though we’d stay true to the original and plump for a 289 Ford unit ourselves, with which the car weighs a mere 952kg or, in other words, the lightest Cobra ever built. Incidentally, each car is fitted with a complete side-exit exhaust system for the Ford V8.
Dropping a powerful American engine into a small, lightweight chassis was a stroke of genius on Shelby’s part, allowing his small Southern Californian shop to take the fight directly to the likes of Ferrari, Jaguar and Chevrolet, across two different continents. The tried-and-tested formula has been imitated by manufacturers the world over ever since.
Prices start at $94,995 for a glassfibre car, while the aluminium body will set you back $159,995. An iconic shape, a distinctive noise, incredible power-to-weight and exploitable, dynamic handling – the 289 Cobra is every bit as enticing today as it was back in 1964. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, each car will also be documented in Shelby American’s ‘World Registry’, so there will be a notable absence of critics when it comes to authenticity. The Cobra legacy is safely intact; long may it continue.
Photos: Shelby American